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  • Writer's pictureJane Thompson Hasenmueller

JANEGOes Bologna to Bari

Our third stop on our grand tour of Italy, was Bologna, food capital of the country, and I can understand why…omg deliciousness. Though the weather was cold our first day, it didn’t compare to the downpour of rain on our second day, but that didn’t stop us from our Secret Food Tour with Claire. Raincoats, umbrellas, GO!

We met up with Claire and the other ten in the group. She took us first to a stop to have the traditional pastry/cookie, a small piece of crust pinched up with a jam filling. People have them with tea, or for Sunday family dinners, they buy a pie size one and have for dessert. Next, we went to a pasta laboratory. Here the ladies make tortellini all day long.

We then went to a deli and were shown different pastas, meats, cheeses.

At each stop, our guide Claire was picking up bags. She then took us to the oldest bar in Bologna. Here you can bring your own food, but you must buy a drink. She ordered our wine, a Lambrusco, the only wine in Italy that was so so, but here she opened all the bags and the big group had a meat tasting, but being vegetarian, Steve and I had our own special tasting and it was delicious.

That gooey looking cheese is Stracciatella, a soft cheese from the Apulia region (where we happen to be now and I’ll write about soon, because I’m in food heaven here) with which the fig paired perfect.There were crackers from the bakery, and it was all delicious. We thought the bartender was especially adorable.

Our next stop was a balsamic tasting. I am crazy for balsamic. I put it on salads, on fruits, and even ice cream when I have a good one. I’ve stashed away a bottle in my bag and then Steve surprised me with the 12 year old in the picture below. So excited to try them both at home.

After the tasting, we went to lunch and had a vegetarian ravioli and an excellent wine. Claire knew so much about Bologna and all the food secrets of the region. If you’re ever here you must book the tour with her. She is lovely.

As for sites to see, it really is more of a foodie wandering town. However, the porticos are fascinating, especially the one that stretches 2.9 miles to the Sanctuary of the Madonna of San Luca. Our second day, the rain was more of a drizzle, so we took the tourist train (yes, one of those tourist “trains” that is not a train at all, but we did hear some interesting things about the city on our issued headphones) to the top of the mountain to see the sanctuary. Everything was covered in fog, but still beautiful.

An interesting place. We climbed to the top of the tower for the view of the city and countryside, but were thwarted with the fog. We then made our way back to the city via the portico. That first picture on the blog today is at the top of the portico just as we began our descent. The sun came out here and there along the way giving us some nice views. We eventually found a caffé and bellied up to the bar like a proper Italian and had our espresso.

The cup is random, that was not the name of the caffé. As we came back to town, we went in search of a place we wanted to stop for lunch, but they turned out to be fully booked. She recommended a place back towards our hotel and we were not disappointed. They were fully booked, but he took pity on us and a table happened to be clearing as we arrived in their tiny upstairs space and he gave it to us.

Just to the left of that man are three tables. We were on the middle one and had to sit on the same side of table together because it was cleverly arranged where there were benches on each side that could make a table of four, and then the middle table could be for two.

My pasta in pesto Genovese was amazing. Ahhhhh, Bologna. I’d definitely come again and foodie out on your beautiful dishes and delis. Goodbye Bologna, till we meet again. Next stop, Bari, a five and 1/2 train ride, but no need to despair…

A train ride means the chance for a picnic, so we loaded up at a deli with cheeses, semi-dried tomatoes, artichokes, peppers, and olives, threw in some bread the deli kindly cut in half for us, and we were happy campers eating our sandwiches, drinking our wine, and looking out at the beautiful countryside of Italy.

Next stop Bari and then on to Matera. I can’t wait to show you Matera, once known as the shame of Italy. Never heard of it? Think opening scenes of No Time to Die or Mel Gibson’s The Passion of Christ and you have seen bits of Matera. Ciao!

Peace and Joy,


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