Tues 30th July.
BOLOGNA and the search for a good Bolognese.
I slipped out of bed, hopped in the shower and went to the nearest café for breakfast. I made a loose plan for the day that didn’t include museums or tours. I wanted to see more of the city by foot, eat well, cycle to the top of a hill Luca told me about, eat more and watch Fitzcaraldo at the open cinema.
Delighted to be off the bike and have a full day in Bologna at the pace of walking. After a few hours of getting lost in various parts of the city, I went for lunch, no easy task given the amount of good restaurants and tourist traps available in any Italian city.
I found a place called ‘Roberto’s’, which was a winner for me based on the fond experience I had of a humble place in San Sebastien by the same name. I saw a Bolognese on the menu and would get to experience the dish in the place of its origin. What came out, looked and tasted like it came from a can with dry spaghetti underneath. I had now had my second bad Italian meal and was amazed that the standards could be so low from what seemed like a decent Italian eatery in Bologna. I was still on the lookout for a decent Bolognese to secure my meagre food of origin mission.
I had some more ice cream from one of many excellent gelato shops and was beginning to discover a love of stracciatella, not that I knew exactly what it was. I went back to the room, then went out on the bike to find this legendary hill Luca had dared me to climb nearby.
He had described it as a long, steep beast that lasted a long time and separated the boys from the men. Given what I was doing, I was in the best condition I could imagine, so had to try it out. Once again Luca was right, it went on and on, up and around, steep and winding to the left and right with panoramic views. The was a road for cars and bikes, with a historic structure housing a walkway that went all the way to the top for people to do the hill by foot. It took about forty minutes to climb and the views at the top didn’t disappoint. You could see in all directions for miles. It always strikes me as strange when you’re among a city, then in a short time your high above it and you realise it’s system of buildings and roads and just a small part of its surroundings. There was also a very beautiful building with a dome roof that I think might have been a church.
The sun was setting and I needed to eat before the film. I shot back down the hill and went back to the restaurant I visited yesterday, ‘Il Moro’. I was torn between rectifying the Bolognese mishap from earlier, or getting the chef special of wild mushrooms and a white wine sauce. I went for the chef special, and although it was amazing, I will always regret not having a Bolognese there. While there I was sat near some American tourists who needed the entire (fairly self-explanatory) menu explaining. I felt for the waiter.
I dropped the bike back at the B&B, picked up a few German beers to honour the film-maker’s work I was about to see and went to open cinema to watch the feature. The film about one eccentric man’s vision and boundless ambition.
It was certainly a special experience watching a film like this, outdoors, with an Italian audience. Again I felt like I had stumbled across a jewel and the most of Europe came alive in the summer. Unlike most England. On the walk back through the city at night I felt a strong connection to the place, like a slotted in easily and could’ve been living there for a few months.