Rick Stein, the renowned Cornish chef turned TV Gourmet-Traveller has been responsible for many of our destination choices recently. It was his influence that fuelled our desire to visit the food capital of Italy and is one of the reasons we head off to Mexico in the next few weeks.
Before you start to think that we know him personally, we don’t. It is his TV programs that have ignited a thought or fanned the flame on an already burning desire to visit somewhere new.
The city of Bologna certainly made for a delicious destination choice. It’s reputation is well founded – Bologna is a foodie adventure playground. Food aside, there were so many memorable moments – the beautiful medieval city is bustling with excitement – the towers and porticos that define the city made it unique and very, very special.
Since the Middle Ages Bologna has been affectionately known by three nicknames:
La Grassa (The Fat One)
The country’s most famous ragu sauce is named after the city, but did you know that many of Italy’s most important and truly iconic ingredients are produced within 35km of the city walls including Parmigiano-Reggiano, Prosciutto de Parma and the world renowned Balsamic Vinegar of Modena.
They say people of this region talk more about, eat more and care more about food than anywhere else in Italy. We did too while here! I am reliably informed that La Grassa relates to the size of the Mortadella Sausages rather than the waistlines!
La Dotta (The Learned)
Bologna is home to the world’s oldest university, founded in 1088 and still occupying some of the medieval and Renaissance buildings within the city walls. Mozart and Rossini were both students here ; the old palazzo building is still home to the music college. As was literally just behind our apartment we were privileged to enjoythe most amazing music floating through the windows during practice times.
La Rossa (The Red)
This nickname relates to the terra-cotta coloured buildings, which glow red in the sunlight. The left-wing, revolutionary tendencies are sometimes referred as La Rossa too. And I did hear a cheeky comment that it could relate to the abundance of red wine produces around the region.
We had so much fun discovering the many difference sides to the wonderful city that is Bologna. We climbed medieval towers (some leaning precariously), enjoyed picnics in medieval bars and spend ages trying to find the best gelato. Finding the mortadella men proved a little easier. Finding Spaghetti Bolognese proved impossible. Why? Well we will share all these tips and more over the next few posts.