Discovering enchanting places right near our home is always a pleasant surprise and Bologna and its surroundings were one of those discoveries for me. That happened at BlogInBo, the 3-day Emilian event for real Italian tourists.
BlogInBo: discovering Bologna and its surroundings
Dozza, an open-air museum
We set out from the hills of Bologna in search of some fresh air in the scorching days of late June, and we do so from one of the most beautiful villages in Italy, Dozza, with its unique little houses with their colourful murals that an enlightened mayor in 1960 had planned to make the village an open-air museum.
With time passing, brushstroke after brushstroke, Dozza has become a small work of art. Every step captures the gaze, and it is also worth taking the time to visit the Rocca Sforzesca that houses the Museum and, for food and wine lovers, the Regional Enoteca of Emilia Romagna for tastings and purchases.
In the evening, Dozza transforms into a nativity scene, dotted with the lights of the small restaurants, many of which also offer gluten-free options, considering that the lion’s share is taken up by local deli meats and Bolognese meat sauce (asking for a gluten-free pasta seems to be a feasible undertaking!).
Bologna the Learned
The history of Bologna’s university permeates the streets, buildings, statues and faces of the many students who crowd the porticoes, cheerfully huddled around elegantly-dressed friends with the ever-present laurel wreath marking new horizons.
As we walk along Via D’Azeglio, the street of the famous illuminations, we hear humming of the most popular verses of the songs of Raffaella Carrà, a beloved Bolognese who died recently. And the same happens as we pass in front of the house of another local artist who made Italian song unique, Lucio Dalla, whose traces and memories come up in various corners of the city.
Passing medieval courtyards, towers and squares, we then enter the heart of the Learned: theArchiginnasio. Here we find the Municipal Library with its inaccessible treasures and an imposing Anatomical Theatre that inspires both reverence and imagination!
It is no coincidence that such a place of science and medicine arose in Bologna in the mid-1600s. Its purpose was keeping under control the activities that previously had been carried out secretly, in private homes, by physicians whose dissection activities walked the fine line between science and witchcraft.
And without ever having to give up the pleasant embrace of the 38 km of arcades, we immerse ourselves in the maze of market streets with their deli shops, stores, trattorias and osterias: a riot of fresh pasta and deli meats that are absolute proof that the second adjective historically linked to Bologna has not been undermined by new food fashions.
Bologna the Fat
A stop at the historic workshops of Tamburini and Simoni to shop for good food because since 1465 at theOsteria del Sole you can only buy wine: definitely an invitation to honour all the good things on the way to Vicolo Ranocchi.
The Osteria del Sole is the meeting point of local people, it is the place where social classes disappear and bottles of Sangiovese from Romagna and the most expensive French champagne are sold in equal numbers. It is the place where the greatest personalities of cinema and sport have stopped to taste the pink mortadella whose unmistakable aroma is more insidious than Ulysses’ Sirens.
So, despite all the good intentions to resist temptation and indulge in just one slice, we end up satisfied and satiated, ready for a stop at the coffee shop for the last treat for the senses: an espresso from Terzi where we try a new, intoxicating coffee blend.
From earth to heaven
Never have the 498 steps of the Torre degli Asinelli been so invoked to walk off the sumptuous lunch! The keyword: punctuality, because the Tower must be climbed strictly with a reservation and at the appointed time, so to organise your activities in the best possible way, stop by at the offices of Bologna Welcome and Extra Bo in Piazza Maggiore where you can find all the information, buy tickets and book access and visits.
In addition to the view of the city from its highest point, the Tower offers us a few refreshing raindrops and the desire to continue enjoying the sky above Bologna by reaching the city’s other symbol, the monument that announces to all the approach into Bologna: the Sanctuary of the Madonna di San Luca.
Refreshing excursion with the little train to admire the succession of arches that, with their 3,796m, form the longest portico in the world and reach the Sanctuary, allowing pilgrims to be sheltered from the weather and heat. Among the bright green trees of the Colle della Guardia, the warm orange of the Basilica stands out even more imposing against the backdrop of a postcard-perfect turquoise sky.
Bologna and surroundings it’s egg pasta
I have no idea how many times I have made egg pasta, nor how many times I have taught how to make it in my life, yet I could not resist the temptation to take part in the Tortelloni and Tagliatelle making course held by the fabulous Monica and Barbara from Tryandtaste in Monteveglio, about half an hour’s drive from Bologna.
Do you know what I love about fresh pasta? That each family has its own version of each dish, an extra or less ingredient that makes their tortellone simply unique. So from my rolling-pin companions I learnt not only how to seal the pasta the Bologna way, but also how to flavour the filling with parsley and a pinch of garlic, a forbidden ingredient for the Bertinelli’s home-made fillings.
With rolling pins and pasta cutters, the cutting boards are soon filled with the most inviting and pot-bellied Tortelloni and soft nests of Tagliatelle, which, while we take photos and videos, are already waiting for us, seasoned and fragrant on the work table masterfully transformed into a simple but sumptuous banquet: Butter Tortelloni, sage and Parmesan cheese authentic meat sauce Tagliatelle.
You do know I was well trained to deal with Bologna’s culinary exertions, and yet, every time I eat a good meat sauce my palate is always amazed as if it were the first time I tasted that recipe! And perhaps there is a reason for this because, in Bologna every one has a own version of the sauce using a different cut of beef or pork, adding more or less tomato purée or paste, the much-debated glass of milk, you name it: to each his own meat sauce! Mine? I’m going to tell you shortly here on the blog pages.
The good and the beautiful that are good for the environment
As in all self-respecting shows, our BlogInBo could only end with a grand finale, this time in the rolling hills of the Regional Park of the Abbey of Monteveglio, surrounded by the vineyards of the organic winery of the Corte d’Aibo farmhouse.
It was in this corner of paradise that in 1989 Antonio Capelli and Mario Pirondini took over 35 hectares of land to give life to their avant-garde project of creating an organic farm. Today it is complemented by a splendid cellar where the wines rest for part of their life in buried clay amphorae that allow the grapes to preserve all their goodness until the skilful knowledge of the winemakers assembles them into the magical combinations of Corte d’Aibo’s 14 labels.
The pleasure of fresh sparkling Pignoletto gives us relief from the heat of lunchtime, accompanied by a crouton served with the summer truffle of this land full of surprises: the truffle that the Appennino Food Group searches with the help of the lagotto dogs in the surroundings of Savigno, the little-known home of this underground treasure.
Then, a glass of Rugiada, a still white wine with no added sulphites, which combines the fragrant Malvasia di Candia with the slightly bitter touch of Grechetto Gentile, leads us to the final climax: the tasting of Franceschini’s artisan mortadella which could only be called Opera.
Definitely a work of art: made only from the finest Italian pork, stuffed into natural casings, hand-tied, slowly stewed and free of preservatives, flavourings and allergens – in short, to be enjoyed to the last bite and with eyes closed so as not to miss even the most hidden aroma.
Here at Corte d’Aibo I would love to stop and admire the sunset behind the neat rows of vines because I am sure it is a breathtaking spectacle, but the schedules of each of our BlogInBo companions oblige us to say goodbye to this land and to our new friends. I feel I can say that it will not be long before I return to retrace the path I have trodden because beautiful, good and healthy things should be shared, Ilaria’s word.