The quadrilateral is an area in Bologna where cured meats, salami, mortadella, prosciutto, Bolognan sausages hang in the window along with various sizes of cheese. Round , plump tomatoes and other fresh produce were being sold by the local shops. This is what Bologna is all about the food, if you asked an Italian where the best food is they would proudly say their own region but if you really pushed them they would confess ‘Bologna’.
Pasta and cheese from Quadrilateral
What’s not to love about Bologna’s food, a city which goes by the nickname La Grassa or The Fat one. The city has invented , tortellini, lasagna and their most infamous dish al ragu otherwise known as bolognaise sauce but here it is not eaten with spaghetti but with tagliatelle, flat long ribbons similar to fettucine.
Bolognan’s are proud of their cuisine so when checking into your hotel, in our case the Metropolitan,take advantage of their hospitality by telling them that this visit is purely for the pleasure of food, food and more food. However don’t you dare make the mistake that I happened to do by using the words spaghetti Bolognaise. The lady at the front desk playfully scorned me for using such words before telling us about the exquisite restaurants of Da Bertino and Da Nello.
Da Nello has been serving delicious traditional Bolognan food since 1948. You can find it located on Via Montegrappa which is the first little alley off the main street before entering the magnificent Piazza Maggliore which is flanked by the worlds fifth largest Bascilica. Adjacent to the Basilica is the small square Piazza Del Nettuno which gets its name from the explicit bronze statue sculptured by Giambologna in 1566. Beneath the muscled sea-god, four cherubs represent the winds and four buxom sirens, water sprouting from every nipple, symbolise the four known continents of the pre Oceania world.
Statue of Neptune
Da Nello’s from the outside looked like a small mom and pops establishment with products hanging in the front window. It gave the impression that it would be a small restaurant, upon opening the door I was surprised to see two expansive rooms separated by wood panelled arch ways, white table cloths covered the table while pictures of famous celebrities adorned the walls. Da Nello definitely lived up to expectations filling our table with orders of lasagna, tagliatelle al ragu and tortellini. We were all happy to share between us the taste of Bologna cooking.
Tagliatelle al ragu and lasagna
This was what the city was about for us food, sure you could always visit the churches, climb the tower of Le Due Torre, the city’s symbols. The taller of the Torre Degli Asinallii is 97.6 metres high and leans 1.3 metres off vertical. Its 498 steps is not for any vertigo sufferers. Once up on top of the tower you can see why the city is also known as La Rossa, the Big Red , the panorama views of sunburnt red and pale orange terracotta tiles on the medieval buildings.
Le Due Torre
Of course there’s also Bologna’s University, the world’s oldest founded in 1088. Another moniker La Dotta(The Learned One) refers to this. Bologna a mixture of old and new, a city strewn in graffiti, left-wing political posters,news pinned along the streets. A city that few foreigners visit but Italian tourists gather in the streets. A city that Italians believe to be one of the most beautiful in all of Italy only behind Venice.
It is the food though that has my focus, my full attention. The one meal that we have been wanting to eat since first wandering the streets under some of the cities unique covered arcades (Portici) is Bolliti Misto. Bollito Misto, a classic Northern Italian stew is gently simmered for 2-3 hours in an aromatic vegetable broth. The receptionist of the hotel had recommended Da Bertino to enjoy this experience. Da Bertino was far from the tourist area, clearly located in an area of town where only locals would be.
The waiter came to us wearing a white long sleeved shirt, grey vest with a fork in one hand and a carving knife in the other, the Bolliti Misto sat on a silver tray. The waiter sliced the meat, juice flowed from the pink tenderised beef. It was served with a dollop of creamy mashed potato and salsa verde, a green sauce of olive oil, vinegar flavoured with parsley, garlic and mustard. My taste buds were on full alert, the meat tasting like silverside was delicious but once dipped into the smooth salsa verde it was fantastic, truly a meal I will remember.
There are many reasons for people to travel and if your someone who travels for food then Bologna should be high on your list. What is not to like about a city that goes by the moniker ‘the Fat One.’