Bologna, soon

Dec 11th, 2014, 07:34 PM
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Join Date: Oct 2014
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Bologna, soon

I will be based in Bologna for 8 days in Late December/earlyJanuary and would love to hear your recommendations. I posted earlier and got some good tips from Sandralist, dfourh and leely2. Also LowCountryIslander's trip report is terrific and I've picked up other tips from the archives, but if anyone has anything fresh to add, I'm listening.

Since my original post I've cut out the three nights in Rome, (and changed my hotel in Bologna) though I'm still going to Venice for four nights. A few years ago I went to Modena, Castelvetro and Vignola, and was enchanted by the region. This seems like a good opportunity, and Bologna is a great train hub, making day trips easy.

I plan to go to Florence, where I've been a few times but NEED to go to the Uffizzi. I'm also thinking about Ravenna, Ferrara, Faenza and Parma, though maybe not all four. I think four day trips total will be enough. That will still give me three full days to putter around Bologna. I will be spending a lot of time at the food markets!

Restaurants I've noted as appealing are Gianni, Sergehi, and dal Biassanot, I have several others too, but if you have a favorite, I'd love to hear it.

I'll be staying at the Hotel Novecento.
flwrjen is offline  
Dec 12th, 2014, 01:02 AM
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Personally, for an 8 day stay in Bologna I would prefer to have an apartment with a kitchen. The very best eating in Bologna is out of the markets, and many of the pasta dishes that one pays for in restaurants are easily made at home. You just literally boil water, and the fresh pasta shops often sell better pasta than is available at the restaurants. Another problem with so much restaurant eating beyond the price and the long hours sitting there is that it is easy to end up eating too much food and not enough vegetables.

If you are going to eat in restaurants, then Gianni e Ciccio deserves a spot on the list, as does All'Osteria Bottega for Bolognese classics. Around the corner from Serghei and Dal Biassonot is the slightly cheaper La Mariposa which is fine if you only want an appetizer and pasta (skip their secondi.) Although it is a hike from your hotel, Do Maro does good Sicilian seafood dishes at an attractive price. All these places need a reservation. I am not crazy about Clorofilla, but if you need lighter, vegetable meals, that is the best option near your hotel.

Whether you are eating in restaurants or doing some cooking, be sure to take advantage of the opportunity to go beyond the most famous pasta dishes and try the less famous ones. Passatelli in brodo is a great winter dish, as is tagliatelle with mushrooms and a curly small pasta known as gramigna that is served with crumbled sausage and a bit of cream. You can often places serving pumpkin stuffed ravioli in winter, plus truffle and mushroom secondi (try da Nello at Montegrappa for that). Turkey and rabbit are often better main courses than other Bolognese secondi. There is a restaurant called Osteria Romagnola (hard to find) that serves an excellent beef braised in white wine (not cheap). Caffe Terzi makes a memorable cappuccino.

Ravenna deserves to be at the very top of your day trip list. In fact, I would suggest nicking one night off Bologna and heading to Ravenna for a night to give yourself a chance to see everything without rushing and enjoy a seafood stew (brodetto). You can go from Ravenna to Venice.

Many of the sights in Parma close in the afternoon, and most of the shops close Thursday afternoon and all day Sunday, so be sure to have a plan going to Parma. It is a very beautiful small city.
sandralist is offline  
Dec 12th, 2014, 01:19 AM
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Some other restaurant options: Da Nicola for pizza, Trattoria Twinside for lighter meals and beer if you are a fan, Le Stanze for the cocktail hour.

This isn't a bad list for informal low-cost eating except I would take Orso off it, and perhaps Trattoria Anna Maria as well, and E'Cucina has a new address (can't remember what it is).

Correction to my post above is that La Mariposa probably doesn't need a reservation, but Da Nicola and Twinside might, especially on weekends. If you go to Le Stanze, hang on to your receipt after you pay. You will need to show it at the door when you leave.
sandralist is offline  
Dec 12th, 2014, 06:55 AM
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One of the most memorable places in Bologna ( not a restaurant ) was
Sanctuary of the Madonna di San Luca.
We took a taxi to the top and walk down the incredible potrtici. Great views .,_Bologna
danon is offline  
Dec 12th, 2014, 06:57 AM
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danon is offline  
Dec 12th, 2014, 07:15 AM
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Sandralist--thank you for your suggestions and tips. When I changed my plans and cut Rome out of the trip I thought about getting an apartment, however I will be on my own then (my son will be taking a class and staying elsewhere) and think I'd be more comfortable in a hotel.

All'Osteria Bottega was on my list already, and I will add Giampi e Ciccio and La Mariposa. (I never want a secondi!) as well as the other places you mention. I appreciate the detail you go into, such as the less famous specialties.When I am on my own I will be less likely to go to restaurants and more likely to get a picnic, dine on ciccetti or something similar--I can't imagine so many heavy restaurant meals. Also, I'm glad to have a pizza recommendation.

I like your suggestion of staying over in Ravenna, and thanks for letting me know about Parma.

Danon: I am really looking forward to seeing the Sanctuary. With all the food I will be eating I may have to walk up as well as down!
flwrjen is offline  
Dec 12th, 2014, 09:09 AM
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You can also get a bus up to the Santuario. Worth asking your hotel.

If you don't feel like a large lunch by yourself, keep your eye out for quality restaurants offering a daily lunch menu at fixed price of 10 that is usually a very substantial soup or pasta, with bread and wine. They usually post it in the window.

If you plan to "picnic" -- which you can also easily do in your hotel room -- some optimal places to buy cold cuts and cheeses are Simoni (in the historic market area) and Bruno e Franco, which is on the via Oberdan and which can feel a bit less intimidating than busy Simoni. It also sells nice things like a ball of steamed spinach, or a portion of three types of cooked mushrooms, or lentil salad, and other prepared foods in small quantities. If you tell vendors "porzione per uno" they will give an appropriately sized single serving, vacuum packed, no problem. You can also buy small jars of "mustard" -- spicy pickled fruits -- to eat with your cheese and meats at a shop called Melega in the historic market. You can also find beautiful fresh pears in the markets in winter (the huge "Abate" pears are special) plus wonderful dried fruits and nuts. I wish there was a great bakery in Bologna but I can't think of one. Not much call for one given how much pasta people eat. So they are all about equal.

Some secondi at some restaurants are worth skipping some other course to eat. Grilled mortadella at Da Gianni, and turkey thighs at Serghei. The very few special sweets worth eating in Bologna are pastries filled with dark Bolognese mostarda (sometimes the best ones look like little sugared ravioli), chocolates from Roccati in the historic market, and candied chestnuts (sold individually) at Atti & Figli. You'll probably see Sicilian oranges and grapes and they are delicious.

Can be a good idea to save your airline cutlery from your flight over, because none of the stores in Bologna include plastic knives and forks when you take food away, and finding stores that sell them is a weirdly near-impossible quest.

Have a nice time. There are always many students and teachers and visitors in Bologna who are eating alone in restaurants and cafes, reading or writing or with their electronic devices, so needn't worry about fitting in.
sandralist is offline  
Dec 12th, 2014, 09:15 AM
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Spell check converted the Italian "mostarda" into mustard. But what you want from Melega is "mostarda"
sandralist is offline  
Dec 12th, 2014, 11:33 AM
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Go to Ravenna from Bologna--it is spectacular. We recommend renting car for a day over train because one of best churches is just outside of Ravenna and the train running from Bologna to Ravenna is not the greatest.
cmstraf is offline  
Dec 12th, 2014, 11:45 AM
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If you like picnics ( and walking) there are a number of lovely parks near the city

We enjoyed Villa Ghigi and ,closer to town, Giardini Margherita.
danon is offline  
Dec 12th, 2014, 02:13 PM
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In winter in Bologna, if you can't sit outside to picnic, you can buy food at the markets and take it to Osteria del Sole, which is several centuries old and has communal tables where you are welcome to sit and eat the food you bought elsewhere, so long as you buy a glass of wine from the establishment.
sandralist is offline  
Dec 12th, 2014, 07:11 PM
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Sandralist: Thank you so much for taking the time to write all that--it's exactly what I need! I really appreciate it. Cutting and pasting now.
flwrjen is offline  
Dec 13th, 2014, 11:22 AM
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I second the Twinside recommendation. And also I had wished I had enough time to overnight in Ravenna because my day trip was a little rushed. Admittedly I am not an early riser, but you will have fewer daylight hours than I did in July.

Have a great trip! Please let the board know how it goes if you have time.
Leely2 is offline  
Dec 13th, 2014, 12:53 PM
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I was in Bologna a few months ago and I'm drawing a blank as to names of restaurants, except one called Osteria La Traviata which we really enjoyed.
Another vote to visit San Luca, as suggested by Danon. We took a cab up and walked back (its all downhill).

Highly recommend a visit to Parma, I fell in love with it! The Battistero is a jewel, dont miss it! There we had lunch at a really nice restaurant that had been recommended by a Fodorite, La Forchetta. Its around the corner from the Battistero.

cruiseluv is offline  

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