Sunday, October 20, 2013

Experiencing Homemade Italian Cusine and Bologna

Grass and Hay Stacks of Pasta 
The flour coated my hands as I kneaded the dough that would soon be cut into thin strips for tagliatelle.  I had created a well for the egg to rest in as I incorporated flour into the bright orange yolk (in Italy there are pasta eggs and flour meant especially for making pasta), and was now kneading more flour into the egg until it reached the consistency of play-dough.  Then with light pressure and a rolling pin, my balls of dough began to take shape as a thin semi-rectangular sheets perfect for creating tagliatelle, green and traditional yellow.  While the pasta sheets were drying, meat for a traditional Bolognese ragu began to simmer temptingly on the stove, and prosciutto crudo with tomato sauce simmered as well, the aroma making me even hungrier.  Three hours from the start time, I sat down to consume the thin noodles with the tender meat and delicious sauce, all the more gratifying because of my hard work.

I had arrived in Bologna at 1:30 in the afternoon for a pasta making course with the Taste of Italy cooking company (  I could not have asked for a better teacher than Alex for the cooking lesson; she knew how to adjust the lesson to my skill level and kept me entertained with stories throughout.  She also went above and beyond her duty by walking me to the Hotel Panorama where I was staying in Bologna and helping me check-in, giving me a brief tour of Bologna at night along the way. I would highly recommend Taste of Italy to anyone interested in learning to cook authentic fresh Italian pasta.

Statue of Neptune in Piazza Maggiore
After Alex left me at the hotel which was only three blocks from Piazza Maggiore I went to explore Bologna.  Bologna is a city that comes alive at night.  It is bustling with people and a variety of trattorias, pizzerias, and bars open, including a raw bar that Alex showed me.  Alex had told me that it is impossible to get lost in Bologna due to the way the streets are laid out, and I found she was right when I wandered around looking for a gelateria; no matter which way I turned I always ended up somewhere I knew.  After exploring the area thoroughly and finally locating my gelato, two types of chocolate, I headed back to the hotel in order to get enough sleep to climb the 500 steps of the Torre degli Asinelli.  For the price of 40 euros a night, I was incredibly close to the main piazza and had a beautiful panoramic view of the city as the hotel's name suggests. 

At 8am the next morning I awoke ready to explore the tourist sites of Bologna and was out the door by 9am.  One of my first stops was the famous open food market on Via delle Pescherie Vecchie and Via Drapperie.  Fresh vegetables of every variety filled the vendors stalls with bursts of color and an array of texture.  While in storefront windows fresh cuts of meat in shades of red as well as tantalizing fresh rolls beckoned to passerby.  My next stop was the Basilica di San Petronio, which remained elegant even its enormity, and the tableau in the center was hypnotizing in its beauty. Unfortunately I could not take photos and the postcards did not do it justice.  Then I visited the Salaborsa library where ancient Roman ruins can be seen through the floor, while the ruins were small, the library itself was impressive and an architectural work of art.  

Torre degli Asinelli
The Torre degli Asinelli is one of the most well-known sites in Bologna and Bologna's tallest tower.  Despite my fear of heights I was determined to reach the top. Upon entering the tower I realized that the 500 steps were narrow, wooden steps with gaps between each step and that throughout the journey up I would be able to see almost all the way down immediately to my right.  After contemplating this for a few minutes, I realized that I would be unable to reach the top.  As disappointed as I was in myself for not completing the trip up, I realized it is important to know what your limits are.  Instead I climbed the scaffold of the Basilica di San Petronio and was able to get a somewhat lower but still beautiful panoramic view of the city, and from there also got a bird's eye view of the band Rumba de Bodas playing.

Before lunch I visited the church of San Domenico where some of Michelangelo's works are held. Unfortunately I was unable to locate his sculptures in the church until after that portion of the church was closed.  However I managed to get pictures of that part of the church without even realizing that is where they were! (I think they need to add a better sign!).  For lunch I went to the Trattoria Anna Maria for a delicious small lunch of tortellini with butter and sage sauce where I meant to finish my trip to Bologna.  However I stayed awhile longer wandering around the city, seeing the park and some of the non-touristy sites, so I did not arrive back into Pesaro until 10:30pm last night where my adventures continued.  To be described at a later date!

Where Michelangelo's sculptures are held

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