Treats in Bologna

This item appears on page 14 of the November 2011 issue.

During my 2011 trip to northern Italy, I stayed in Bologna the nights of May 6-7 at Nuovo Hotel del Porto (Via del Porto 6 [Piazza Maggiore], 40122 Bologna, Italy; phone +39 051 247926). I had to keep asking directions to find it, but it was within walking distance of both the train station and the Old Town.

José, the Spanish receptionist (who also spoke English and Italian), was kind enough to e-mail my husband for me to let him know I had arrived safely.

My room (No. 312) was in a quiet location and had a double bed and a modern bathroom with a large window that opened. The price was right: €68 (near $91) per night.

Le Due Torri — Bologna, Italy. Photo: Hill

I spent the next day around Piazza Santo Stefano, which contains four of seven original churches dating back to the 10th to 13th centuries; Piazza Maggiore, the historic center of the city, and the Mercato di Mezzo (Food District).

Bologna was famous for its many towers, but of the nearly 200 that were built only 21 remain. Le Due Torri (The Two Towers) are the city’s most striking landmarks, and the shorter one, like the Tower of Pisa, is decidedly leaning. You can climb 500 narrow wooden steps up to the top (320 feet) of one of Le Due for a spectacular view of Bologna.

When I was there, two panting and sweating teenage girls emerged from the tower after completing the climb. When I asked if they thought it was worth it, they emphatically said, “No!”

In the food district, Tamburini (via Caprarie, 1 - 40124 Bologna; phone +39 051 234726), a salumeria (cold cut shop), had been recommended for lunch. I don’t eat much salami or cheese, but it was a wonderful place to see and just people-watch.

I ordered trout and veggies from the small cafeteria portion of the store, then shared a table with an Italian couple. We watched as deli items were removed from the huge cases, sliced, beautifully arranged on large round plates and whisked off to individual patrons.

While eyeing the bakery section, I was offered un assagino (a taste) and ended up purchasing some delicious fruit-filled cookies.

When I finally left, all the outside tables were filled with locals enjoying the sunshine as well as their salumeria plates plus beer or wine. Tamburini was obviously quite an institution.

Later, for a second treat, I came across Gelateria Gianni (via San Vitale 2a; phone 051 233008), easily spotted on a corner just a few steps beyond the two towers. Prominently displayed were two trophies for their chocolate gelato, so I combined a serving of that with pistachio. Wow! It was worth every penny (€3, about $4).

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