How to Spend a Weekend in Bologna

Thursday, June 11th, 2015

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Bologna is fantastic. Italy is lovely. Living abroad is brilliant. It’s a wonderful experience. Everyone should try it at least once in their life. Believe it or not though, sometimes you just want to spend time with someone who understands exactly what you’re saying and brings you bags of Dairy Milk Giant Buttons.

In mid-May, Hannah, possibly my oldest friend, came out to visit in Bologna. We spent a pasta, pizza, and prosecco fuelled three days playing tourist in my new(ish) city. It was wonderful.

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We started every day with orange juice (far too hot, and late, for cappuccinos) and apple cake at my favourite bar, Caffè del Mercato. Apparently, it’s one of the best  in Bologna. All I know is that the staff are the friendliest waiters I have ever come across, that their torta di mela is delicious, and that they sell glasses of perfect prosecco for 5€.

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We wandered around for half an hour or so before heading straight for lunch at Eataly (the website is in Italian).

Determined that Hannah should try as many of Bologna’s traditional dishes as possible while she was here, I ordered two giant bowls of tagliatielli al ragù and two glasses of San Giovese.

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Ragù is spag bol’s sexier, sultrier older sister. Apparently after the Second World War, the Allied troops who’d helped liberate Italy arrived in Bologna and loved ragù so much that when they got home they asked their wives and chefs in Italian restaurants to make them ‘spaghetti alla Bolognese.’ Unfortunately, it’s so good I doubt I’ll ever look at spag bol in the same way again.

Just look at it:

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Version 2

After lunch we wandered down to my favourite church in Bologna, the Sette Chiese or Basilica Santuario Santo Stefano.

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According to legend the first of the seven churches began in the 4th century AD, which was rebuilt in the 12th century,  and the oldest parts standing today were built on top of a temple to the goddess Isis in the 5th century AD.

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Over the centuries, chapels and churches have been added or taken down. Today the two courtyards and the chapels that lead off from them are one of the most peaceful places in the city.

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Blouse: Zara, Jeans: Gap, Bag: Furla

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Just out of shot were some schoolgirls arranging the pot plants for a more aesthetically pleasing Instagram shot. Girls after my own heart.

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We sat in the second courtyard for a while, soaking the warmth into our bones, before we decided it was about cool enough to climb the 498 steps of the Torre Asinelli.

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“I’m going to try going down this bit backwards. Oh no, I think this may actually be worse!”

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We then rewarded ourselves with gelato (crema and raspberry here) before heading home for a nap and takeaway pizza for dinner.

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Day 2 started even later and with aching legs. After a very slow breakfast we headed back into the centre of town and wandered around for a bit, including heading back past Sette Chiese. Then we headed to another of Bologna’s churches, the Basilica San Domenico, where I failed to take any photos. I’m a terrible blogger, I know, here’s another photo of gelato (almond and crema) to make up for it:

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Suitably peckish we headed to lunch where, again, I failed to take any photos except of Hannah’s chocolate and hazelnut pudding.

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After lunch we walked through the University Quarter to the Museo Palazzo Poggi and passed the afternoon feeling a little sick after wandering through the anatomy and obstetrics galleries, where I didn’t take any pictures that wouldn’t make even the most hardened surgeon feel a bit queasy.

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Exhausted after another day of walking we headed home, stopping to get food and wine for dinner on the way.


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About Abby

IMG_0866 Reader. Writer. Kitchen Witch. Taking on the world armed with a wooden spoon. Licking cake bowls since 1992.

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