Bologna Travel Guide
One of the reasons travelers and tourists flock to Italy each and every year is for the food. Obviously there’s pizza, pasta, and plenty of other warm and savory dishes, but when it comes to dessert there’s really only option on our menu—gelato. Thankfully there’s now a shrine dedicated to the cousin of ice cream, just one of Italy’s national treasures.
The Carpigiani Gelato Museum is now open for business. Exhibits reveal the history of gelato, like from where it came and how it got to where it is today. There’s over 10,000 images showing the evolution and history, and there's even twenty different original machines. Tools of the trade, videos, and other multimedia displays round out the offerings, so you’re definitely getting the full gelato experience.
It;s hard when you're based in America to remember just how easy (and lovely) it is to travel by train in Europe. It's quick, it's simple, it's well priced and, in Italy, where we were last week, you have lots of options to choose from.
Normally in Italy, we try to catch the Eurostar trains, which are superquick and awesomely serviced. For our route last weekend - Bologna to Chiusi-Chianciano Terme, the closest station to the magical Val d'Orcia, aka textbook Tuscany - the only options were Intercity or local trains. We chose the Intercity and scored an incredible deal on the journey: EUR31 for two people in first class for the 2hr45min journey, thanks to a buy-one-get-one-free deal on Saturday train travel.
You know how Christmas decorations can somehow seem a little tacky? (Yes, Oxford Street and Regent Street in London, looking at you.) Well, over in Italy, everything's done a little more classily.
In Bologna this weekend, the first thing we noticed was just how touchingly lovely the Christmas decorations are. A massive Christmas tree in the main Piazza Maggiore, by the statue of Neptune. Classy white lights dripping down the main shopping street, Via Indipendenza, and little icicle-like streams in the smaller streets.
And then there was the Garisenda towerone of Bologna's twin towerswhich was all lit up from top to bottom, looking all glitzy yet restrained. Perfectly done, Bologna, perfectly done.
We really wanna try one of those learning holidays in 2008. But rather than our previous suggestion of learning Indian head massage, we're salivating over a recent NYT report on making tortellini in Bologna. A hearty plate of self-made tortellini topped with at-the-origin Bolognese sauce certainly makes for an appetizing destination.
The course in question is held at the Fattoria Corte Roeli convent and run by graphic designer-turned-cooking teacher Leonardo Iacono, and while you make your tortellini you'll also be discovering some of the fine old rules that govern the process. For example, when you're making the dough that creates the pockets of tortellini, it
should be rolled thin enough that you can see San Luca, Bologna's hilltop church, through it.
And yes, it sounds like that's as tricky as it sounds. Folding attractive-looking tortellini is another great challenge, but fortunately they still taste the same even if they're not perfect. Just don't tell anybody in Bologna we said that.
[Photo: Florian Seiffert]