On the Road: Florence and Bologna

Yesterday, we took the train from Rome to Florence. I have to say that I am a huge fan of train travel over here. You get an assigned seat, the trains are super fast and they leave and arrive exactly on time.

After we dropped our bags at the hotel, we spent some time just wandering, and I pointed out a lot of jewelry that Chester could buy me in the expensive stores that line the winding streets. We also visited the Uffizi Gallery, which holds the art collection of the Medici family. The collection mostly consists of religious art (I am officially on Baby Jesus overload at this point) but also includes several more well known paintings such as The Birth of Venus by Botticelli.

It’s truly a beautiful city and I doubt that my cell phone photos will do it justice, but here are just a couple:

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Ponte Vecchio

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Duomo

Today, we took another short train ride to Bologna, 30 minutes from Florence. It’s a really charming city, with lots of arcaded passageways, medieval architecture and good shopping. Our guidebook described it as one of Italy’s hidden gems, and I guess it must be, because it was not at all packed with tourists.

What makes this city pretty amazing is the food, though, and that’s the main reason we wanted to visit (are you shocked?). Among other things, Bologna is the birthplace of tortellini, Bolognese sauce, and mortadella.

We sampled everything we could, starting with a stop at Tamburini, which has been selling meats, cheeses and other delicacies since 1932:

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Clockwise from the top: Bresaola (dried beef), Prosciutto, Mortadella, Provolone, and Fontina cheese; Salami in the center

We had lunch at Osteria dei Poeti, a restaurant off the beaten path. The meat filled tortellini were not as thick as the versions of this pasta I’ve had here at home and the broth was flavorful without being too salty. A couple of spoonfuls of Pecorino Romano enhanced the flavor. The tagliatelle featured a hearty ragu, which stood up well to the slightly chewy pasty.

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Oh, and in case you were wondering, they have Dr. Seuss over here:

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Ciao for now!

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