Two Days and 10,000 Calories in Bologna.

Let’s go back to Italy, shall we? The travelogue left off after our four days in Firenze, but the trip went on: we boarded a Trenitalia for a brief visit to bustling, historic Bologna, site of the oldest university in the western world and a cultural crossroads that dates back to 1000 B.C. It is also a city celebrated for its great food, no small feat when you consider that the entire country is one big carnival of calories.

eagle bologna

Detail in the Palazzo Comunale, city of Bologna: the eagle of the Archbishop Gerolamo Sauli, 1550-1559

We only stayed two days, just long enough to see the towers and have a few spectacular meals.

tower bologna

One of the two remaining medieval towers built in Bologna between the 12th and 13th centuries.

We had one rainy afternoon for a quick tour the city.  We hope to return and dig deeper someday.

santa stefano bologna

The Calvary Niche in the Church of the Holy Sephulcre, Bologna.

When you wander the narrow, winding streets, you quickly realize that it’s all about food in Bologna.

salumeria window bologna

Salumerias everywhere in Bologna!

il pane famoso bologna

And bakeries!

another salumeria bologna

And more salumerias!

Thanks to some very knowledgeable folks on Chowhound we had a few unforgettable meals. We arrived a bit early for lunch at All’Osteria Bottega, and while we were happy to wait on a bench outside, the proprietress took pity on us and waved us in, offering pane e vino to sustain us while we waited for il pranzo. She spoke almost no English but kindness somehow translates well in any language.

proprietor osteria bottega

We enjoyed a warm welcome at All’ Osteria Bottega.

antipasti all osteria bottega bologna

First, there was antipasti…

CE pasta osteria bottega

The CE’s favorite tagliatelle of the trip was at All’ Osteria Bottega.

torta de riso bologna osteria bottega

…and the torta di riso a degli addobbi were amazing!

Dinner that evening was at the famed I Caracci Ristorante in the Grand Hotel Majestic Gia Baglioni. It would be worth dining there for the sixteenth century frescoes alone, but the food and the service were equally memorable:

i caracci ceiling bologna

The ceiling fresco at I Caracci depicts the Fall of Phaeton and the Four Seasons.

CE I Caracci Bologna

The CE at I Caracci: you can dress him up but you can’t really take him out…

i caracci amuse bouche

We began with an amuse bouche of goat cheese with basil and olive oil.

polpettine soup i caracci

Zuppa with polpettine is a speciality in Bologna.

pork belly i caracci

Pork belly perfection.

dessert i caracci

I don’t know what it was called, but dessert involved strawberries and it was divine.

cookies i caracci

And in Italy, there always seems to be dessert after dessert.

For our second lunch in Bologna, we went a bit further afield. Betting on another Chowhound recommendation, we balked a bit when after a longish cab ride we arrived at the outwardly unprepossessing Osteria Broccaindosso. Again, it appeared we were a bit early – 12:30  may be the official opening time for lunch but in Bologna, the cognoscenti do not seem to show up earlier than 1 p.m.

No one spoke English. We took a seat, noting nervously that the place looked kind of like the interior of a Pizza Hut. The CE asked “Are you sure about this?”  Just as I began to ponder our exit, we heard a deep voice behind us proclaim a loud “Buongiorno!” and the show was on.  No need to consult the menu; just put yourself in the capable, brawny hands of the restaurant owner and you will enjoy one of the best meals of your life:

Broccaindosso menu Bologna

The menu is simple, straightforward and best ignored – let the owner decide what you’re eating.

Broccaindosso bread meat

Simple but fantastic.

polpettine broccaindosso

More zuppa.

tagliatelle broccaindosso

The tagliatelle rivals that of All’ Osteria Bottega, if that is possible.

We were completely sated after our pasta course, but our new friend would not let us leave without dessert. He presented us with a vat of zabaglione large enough to serve a tribe of Etruscans. And then (never mind that it was 1:30 in the afternoon) he authoritatively set down a bottle of grappa with a gesture that conveyed “Drink as much as you want, it’s on me.” Oh, and don’t forget: after dessert comes dessert: this time an apricot tart.

zabagione broccaindoss

Zabaglione at Osteria Broccaindosso

me and owner broccaindosso

This is the guy: I would return to Bologna again just to have another meal served by our generous, hospitable host at Osteria Broccaindosso.

We were really too full to have dinner that evening, but we kept our reservation at Trattoria da Gianni where I nibbled half-heartedly at some ambrosial cheese and the CE rose to the challenge with a heavenly serving of artichoke lasagna. Our lovely waitress surprised us with chilled glasses of housemade grappa after our meal.

crop trattoria gianni

Once back in the states we ran into some friends who had once lived in Bologna for several months. Their first question was whether we had been “comped” with food or drink during our stay. And as we recounted the incredible generosity we experienced, our friends nodded, smiling, and said “That means they liked you.” We liked them, too! We’ll be back, Bologna!






About polloplayer

Empty nester searching for meaning of life through the occasional chicken epiphany.
This entry was posted in Big Fun, Gastronomy, Travel and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to Two Days and 10,000 Calories in Bologna.

  1. So happy to read about your experiences in Bologna. We’ll be there for three nights in May, first visit, although we’ve been to Italy many times. We love the Val d’Orcia, and tend to always spend most of our time there.

  2. Katherine says:

    i always leave this blog wanting to read more books and eat more food. 😉

  3. Tammy kronen says:

    Love this Post!

    Tammy Kronen Kronen’s Kitchen and Events 805.259.8902


  4. The tagliatelle and the goat cheese in olive oil made my mouth water! Even though I’m home in Ohio, I’ll be having Italian tonight!

  5. dizzyguy says:

    The phood photos are simply amazing, congrats CCL! Also, they are very effective at reminding me of the near impossibly divine meals we had there, one right after the other. But the hospitality of the people involved with the food was a big part of the experience as well. All calories consumed there were worth every inch put on the waistline. Would love to barrel back to Bologna before being barred…….

  6. Debra Kolkka says:

    I love Bologna and try to go often. The food shops are incredible.

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