Bologna – The Birthplace of Oscar Mayer?

Despite the economy, Americans are still traveling to Europe. If you are one of those lucky ones this summer, let me suggest a destination. (This is a blog post classic from four years ago.)

Okay, so Bologna is not the birthplace of Oscar Mayer (Bavaria, Germany, holds that honor.) But this beautiful city, affectionately referred to as La Grassa (the fat one) is noted by the Italians to have the best cuisine in all of Italy. I wouldn’t disagree. Red PearsI ate a memorable lunch at Diana, a restaurant that boasts it’s own wine label and balsamic vinegar. I guess you already know by its name that the bolognese sauce was utter perfection, as was the dolce (dessert), a red pear poached in a liqueur you can’t get outside Italy.

DSCN1239The town’s open air food markets there have their very own street, an entire pedestrian walkway dedicated to artful displays of the most beautiful fruits and vegetables you can imagine. Lychee nuts nudged up against plums, purple artichokes rubbing leaves with frisee’ lettuces. And the tomatoes! Your nonno (grandpa) would be proud to grow these in his garden.

DSCN1238Bologna boasts the oldest university in Italy, so the younger part of its population keeps the town quite liberally bent and lively. Still there is no mistaking the medieval influence on its architecture. If you are a fan of the mini-series The Borgias, much there will look familiar. If you’re taking the kiddies, you might want to sidestep the Piazza Maggiore – naughty doesn’t begin to cover the subjects of the statues there. Moving along. The city invented porticoes with arcades to shelter it’s people from the elements. Lovely, graceful spaces to enjoy even on a sunny day. I guess umbrellas came later.

Well, I hope you consider Bologna if you are planning a trip to Italy this summer. If you can’t make it, I’d suggest an Oscar Mayer baloney sandwich. Satisfying in its own way.

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