Our post-lunch wanderings brought us to Piazza Maggiore, a bustling square, surrounded by shops, restaurants, and beautiful buildings. While there we learned we could climb up to the terrace of the Basilica di San Petronio. We had to pay 3 euros each and basically sign our lives away before we were allowed to climb up, and as we started the ascent, we realized we were climbing construction scaffolding. It's amazing what we tourists will pay to do!
We did get some lovely views of Piazza Maggiore and the Neptune Fountain (Fontana di Nettuno), as well as two distant, leaning towers (Le Due Torri), to which we headed next. One of the towers (the Garisenda) was shortened in 1360 for safety reasons. The other (Asinelli) is open to the public, and for a few euros you can climb the 498 steps to the top.
I won't say we didn't wonder if this one should have been closed for safety reasons too, as we climbed the old stairs that are just attached to the walls, with no posts or beams supporting them underneath.
We stopped for breathtaking views of Bologna along the way (and to catch our breath, let's be honest here.)
And we eventually successfully made it to the top. I may be smiling in this picture, but I have to admit my calves were shaking!
From up here, there were even more expansive views and we enjoyed them while we rested and prepared ourselves for the trek back down.
|That facade to the left is in front of Basilica di San Petronio, where we climbed to the terrace earlier.|
|The base of the tower|
Tired out from all the sightseeing and stair climbing, we went back to the hotel to rest up for a little bit. I was really getting into the Italian life style of an afternoon nap.
Later we decided to try Ristorante da Nello for dinner. We arrived just in time to beat the line of people who would soon show up and managed to snag a small table by the entrance to the outside area -- even though we didn't have a reservation. This was great for people watching. (Speaking of, in the midst of our dinner, we heard a bunch of cheering and commotion, and when our waiter saw our quizzical looks, he explained that J Lo was there. We didn't see her, but it was funny to think we were sitting in a restaurant in Bologna and J Lo was down the street.)
As with lunch, we had slow and not super attentive but still friendly service. Jeff ordered the house white, and I had the house red. The house wines are typically good and cheap, and I definitely recommend getting them anywhere in Italy (advice we were given several times before our trip).
We started with thinly sliced prosciutto and melon and a bowl of tortellini in brodo. I had heard that this was a Bolognese specialty and really wanted to try it. Little did I know it would be so good that Jeff and I would be fighting over the bowl. The broth was incredibly well flavored and the fresh pasta was unbeatable. I hope to re-create this dish at home one of these days.
Jeff got another Bolognese specialty: tagliatelle Bolognese. It was awesome. Again there was amazing fresh pasta, plus a super-flavorful sauce with tender meat.
I had strette alle melanzane (listed among the chef's selections of the day), a thin pasta with mouthwatering, silky eggplant chunks and a glimpse of tomato sauce. Topped with Parmigiano-Reggiano, it was just perfect.
By the second half of our meal, both our wine and water glasses had run dry, and our waiter took no notice. When he brought over dessert menus, we decided to pass, fearing how long it might take to get those desserts, and instead sought out what every tourist in Italy seeks out: gelato.
We came across Grom, a name I'd heard thrown around in conversations about the best gelato in Italy, so we went in to try it out. The gelateria is known for using seasonal, local ingredients.
Jeff got lemon sorbet, and I got the baci (chocolate and hazelnut). This was our first stop at a gelato shop during the trip, so besides gelatos we'd had incorporated in desserts at restaurants in Venice, we had nothing to compare these with. We just knew they were delicious. Mine was especially creamy and smooth, and I could really taste the hazelnuts in it. It was just the right thing to end our first night in Bologna with.
Next up: Day 4 -- Bologna (Morning/Afternoon)