Blog post n°100: Back in Bologna!

I wasn't quite sure what to post to celebrate the 100th post for this blog -- should it be one of our favorite recipes, some sort of elegant and impressive cake recipe, a roundup of the most popular recipes so far? In the end, I decided however that this milestone post should be dedicated to Bologna, a city that is, as we say in Italian, "la mia citta' nel cuore," or rather "the city in my heart." Bologna is the place where I first fell in love with Italy, learned how to make lasagne alla bolognese, and of course where Gloria and I met and became friends. Without Bologna then, there would be no Pancakes & Biscotti!

Bologna, 2009

Bologna, 2015

Between work, traveling to other countries, and life in general, it had been two years since our last trip to Bologna (!!!) so my sister Alexandra and I were long overdue for a visit and were super excited to see Gloria. And as if spending a couple of days in Bologna wasn't exciting enough, we were also joined by our friend Steve (from Luxemborg, living in Berlin) who studied in Bologna with us as well. He brought along three of his friends from Switzerland and Germany, who were lovely. 

Reunited with Steve!!!

New friends!!!

Here are some highlights of the trip:

We chose to eat at Osteria dell'Orsa for our first meal in Bologna -- thankfully it is one of Steve's favorite restaurants too. Orsa is famous for its tagliatelle al ragu' (one of the most famous bolognese dishes there is) and my lunch of choice. They also make great tortellini and cotolette, and have a menu with specials that change daily. One of the specials the day we ate there was ravioli with butter and sage, which a few of our dining companions ordered and were extremely happy with. As much as I love my amatriciana, I must admit it was nice to eat some bolognese dishes again just for a chance of pace! 

 Tagliatelle al ragu'!


Ahhh, Il Banco del Pane -- this was a place that was particularly nostalgic for me, as it was where my sister, Gloria, and I would go routinely after class to get a slice of their famous tenerina, or flourless chocolate cake, which is literally one of the best things I've ever eaten. The owners were nice enough to give us the cake on the house when they heard we had been regulars, and even threw in a free brownie to sample. 


Another place that I was happy to visit again was the Tigellino, where I could get another Northern specialty, tigelle. Tigelle kind of remind me of English muffins in shape and size, but have a flavor and texture similar to piadina. Once they are baked they can be split open and filled with a variety of ingredients. We chose salame with ricotta and honey and ragu' as our fillings. Delish!


In between all the eating we were doing, it was nice to walk around the city and take in all of its characteristic sights again.

 Bologna is known for its portici, or the porticos that line most all of the city and are not only pretty, but extremely useful if the weather is rainy.  


We stopped by Piazza Maggiore to say hello to Nettuno as well!

And enjoyed the sunshine near the San Petronio Basilica.

In addition to visiting our favorite places in the city, we also discovered a few new ones, including Bar Senza Nome. This bar has a cool vibe with lots of interesting art on the walls and a loft with seating, plus great drinks. The most interesting part about this  bar though is that it is owned and operated by the deaf. Many of the bar tenders and waiters are deaf, and those who are hearing know how to sign. If you are a hearing customer and do not know how to sign, you are provided with a piece of paper on which to write your messages. Not surprisingly, this bar was a gathering place for the deaf community in Bologna, many of which were there with their whole families. I had never heard of a place like this anywhere, and am sorry to have only discovered it now -- there is something really beautiful and intricate about signing, and it was so cool to observe. I promised myself next time I go back I will learn a few signs to use!

A few reflections post trip

1.) Bologna is SUCH a calm city compared to Rome. As much as I love Rome, it was a breath of fresh air. There are far less people and things are overall less chaotic.

2.) Unlike Rome, transportation is not a problem in Bologna -- we didn't take one bus the whole time we were there, and there is no subway as the city is small. For example, going out on a Friday night in Rome means keeping in mind what time the subway closes and the buses stop running, waiting for aforementioned unreliable public transportation, and choosing what neighborhood you want to go out in. In Bologna on the other hand we were able to go to dinner and reach home after a short walk, or go to bars and pubs at night, all on foot. Life here is just easier. 

3.) The Bolognese accent, which at one point was the only one I knew, now seems almost foreign to my ears, which have grown accustomed to the Roman accent (Americans: think New York accent vs Texas accent). I must admit I prefer the bolognese one and it was lovely to hear it again.

It was overall a great couple of days, and I'm so happy we found the time to go back to this wonderful city. If all goes well we should be planning another trip for this June!

One last image to leave you with: the famous Torre Asinelli at night. Gorgeous!

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