Bologna, Ravenna and Venice plus a bit of food and wine
19.05.2013 - 27.05.2013 19 °C
It was with great excitement that I saw Sue’s smiling and enthusiastic face at Bologna Airport in May. It was lovely to catch-up on all the Sydney news after a year away.
An action-packed week was planned with a tour of Bologna, cooking class, regional food tour, and trips to Ravenna and Venice amongst the activities organised. On day one we took Sue on a tour of Bologna including her first true taste of Italian coffee and a brioche con crema at Gamberini (the oldest bakery in Bologna). This was followed by a visit to the Archiginnasio - a 16th century building commissioned by Pope Pius IV including a fascinating anatomical theatre. A walk up to the top of San Luca and then lunch at Trattoria Fantoni may have left our guest with a slightly swirling head with all the stimuli!
Once again we enjoyed fantastic dinner at Drogheria della Rosa, where the gregarious owner Emanuele took a bit of a shine to Sue presenting her with a free bottle of red.
It was a foodie week, and Wednesday we undertook a pasta making course at La Vecchia Scuola Bolognese. Making fettuccine, tortolloni and tortellini was hard work, but at the end we could enjoy the fruits of our labour and mangiamo (eat) the fine fare that we had produced.
Thursday morning was an early start at 7am - we were waiting outside the apartment to be picked up by our limo service for the start of our 'Taste of Italy' Tour. This tour commenced with an insight into the production of the beautiful Parmigiano-Reggiano. Sue and I put on our special outfits for the day and then entered into the factory looking very glamorous!
The production of the cheese is extremely skilled with fresh milk coming in daily from approved cows, and only one man qualified to lift and cut the cheese from the amazing copper pots. The cheese is certainly beautiful and it was amazing to see the work and care that goes into the production.
Following the cheese factory we went to the balsamic vinegar factory - or aceto balsamico. The balsamico is aged from one to twenty five years in special barrels called batterias. Each year the basilico is moved from the bigger barrels down to the smaller, and these are stored in the attic to allow for variations in temperature and certain bacterias to play their part.
These vinegars are certainly far superior to the average bottle that you buy in the supermarket, and a taste-test with strawberries and ice cream (believe it or not) certainly delighted the tour group.
Our final destination was the prosciutto factory, and then a five-course lunch at a local trattoria. Our local tour guide kept us entertained with stories and jokes, and we were finally rolled back into the car in a food-filled stupor for the trip home. Not even room for one little wafer at the end!
Lunch and Prosciutto
On Friday we took the train to Ravenna so Sue could see the beautiful frescoes, and we also undertook a bit of shopping (thanks Sue for my beautiful birthday bag). As if we hadn’t eaten enough food the day before, we 'had' to enjoy a delicious lunch in another local trattoria. That night we picked up Sue’s friend Annerose from the airport ready for our girls' weekend in Venice.
Up early we packed Dan and the kids off for their weekend in Le Marche with friends from the school. Sue, Annerose and I then had a quick tour of Bologna altough heavy rain limited our tourist possibilities. Catching the train to Venice (12 euro each – thanks Italo) we arrived and found our way via traghetto to our accommodation. Leaving our bags in the room, our first stop was prosecco and pizza to celebrate my birthday. A bit of a rest and then dinner at a local restaurant (fortunately we stumbled onto a good one ranked high on TripAdvisor). Following dinner we wandered through the streets and into St Mark's Square, although heavy rain ensured we were rather damp on our return.
Venice - Day 1
Sunday morning we had booked a two-hour walking and gondola tour. This was a terrific way to see the sights and hidden streets away from the maddening tourist crowds.
Walking tour and Gondola
Following our tour we found a great little spot for lunch. This provided the fuel for the rest of the day where walked many of the streets and saw lots of sights. Dinner topped off the day (again by chance we found one of the top-rated restaurants in Venice), and we then caught a ferry back late at night to our accommodation.
Sue and Annerose departed early for their trip back to Germany, and I caught the ferry to Murano - the famous island that produces most of the Venetian glass. It was lovely wandering the streets and taking in the sights, plus it wasn’t too overrun with tourists in the morning. An action-packed week, but I think Sue certainly experienced the tastes and sights of Italy.