We wandered through the porticos of Bologna, their archways illuminated by the light escaping from the bars and restaurants. At 10:00 in the evening, the city was far more alive with activity than during the sleepy hours of the afternoon when my girlfriends and I had first come out to explore the city and have our first of what I believe will be many mouth-watering meals in this city. We paused to look at menus as we passed, no particular destination in mind, knowing that each place would be more delicious than the last. Turning down one street, we saw two restaurants with terraces filled with people. The name of one caught my attention and when I saw the 10E prix fixe menu, I realized that it was a place a friend had recommended to me. Done.
I love that the hostess and waiters spoke to us completely in Italian, even though it was clear that we did not understand more than a few words of what they were saying. The terrace was filled, did we want to eat inside? If you can’t have a seat outside, the next best option is one with a view into the kitchen. Ariana and I couldn’t stop watching the chef plate the pasta and other dishes, pausing to take a huge swig of his Peroni.
We made friends with the waiter in our broken Spanish-Italian mixture of language….understanding a few words of the specials that he described to us. We knew that we had ordered some kind of pasta with meat for the first dish; he started to describe the options for the second course and then just smiled and said “Andiamo con il carne! ….with big Italian hand gestures, of course. Did we want vino? Of course. Rosso o bianco? Rosso! Andiamo con il vino!
The dinner was delicious, every bite of food, from the pasta to the veal to the lemon sorbet for dessert simply melted in our mouths. Welcome to Bologna, the culinary capital of Italy, where everything is cooked with flavor, with feeling, con amore. When we finally asked for the check, the waiter babbled on and on, and the only word that we caught was “casa”. On the house? What? Not possible. We might have made friends with the waiter, but couldn’t believe that anything was on the house. After he finally led us to the front, we realized he was saying “cassa”. Pay at the cash register in front. Hah. Ooops. Guess we still need to practice our Italian a bit more.
After that we made our way back through the streets of the city, which were still buzzing with people outside socializing, eating, drinking, living life toward the direction of the Piazza Maggiore, where an outdoor film festival is being held all week. Half of the city must have been gathered into the Piazza, which is surrounded by gorgeous architecture that sweeps you back in time. We pulled out the bottle of Sangiovese that we had picked up from the grocery store and joined the rest of the city in watching an old silent German film, that was being accompanied by a full orchestra. The dramatic notes of the orchestra, the buzz of the crowd, the taste of the wine…Benvenuto in Italia.