A Layover In Bologna, Italy
Everyone had to go to the nearest city from Gatteo a Mare to catch their flights back to the United States. Bologna happened to be the closest main city and was more of a layover than a sightseeing experience for us. It was convenient for Adam and I, since we were staying in Italy for another month and a half and had to pick up our rental car at the airport anyways.
Wheels On the Bus Go Round and Round
We left Gatteo a Mare and headed to Bologna by bus – it fit exactly all fourteen of us! The drive was fairly quick, it took no more than an hour and a half. I have been on a lot of buses before and this one was quite comfortable because of its space, seats and privacy. It is always fun when you have such a large family you can rent a bus all to yourselves!
Piazza Maggiore – Bologna’s City Center
After we checked into our hotel, we decided to walk to Bologna’s central square to see some of the city’s sights and to find dinner. The sun started to set as we were walking to the piazza and shadows started covering the tops of the buildings, creating a very beautiful setting. The central square in Bologna is called, Piazza Maggiore, and is surrounded by the city’s basilica and former administrative buildings.
The San Petronio Basilica is one of the more unique basilicas we have seen in Italy because of its brick architecture and unfinished facade. It is the largest church built by bricks and the tenth largest church in the world by volume. In our opinion, the unfinished facade really brings more character to the basilica than if it was finished, which is why we find it so unique.
In the center of Piazza Maggiore was a giant white screen with several red chairs facing it. We learned that every year Bologna hosts the Cinema Ritrovato festival. This festival is dedicated to restoring and rediscovering iconic movies, as well as little-known films during the silent movie period. The silent movies are accompanied by live music composers and musicians. The festival is always held in late June to early July, showing and has a section of four hundred films from all around the world. Last year when we visited, they were celebrating their 30th anniversary! It was a shame no movie were being shown the night we visited.
The second building that really captured our eyes was the Palazzo Re Enzo, Bologna’s heart and prestigious symbol of the city. If we were to do this day all over again, I would have wanted to arrive in Bologna earlier to be able to visit inside this palace because it looks beautiful and rich in history.
A Classic Bologna Dinner – Bolognese and Bolognese
Since this was my family’s last day together it was really all about enjoying each other’s company one last time in Italy. What better way to spend our last few hours together than over dinner and drinks!? We ended up dining outside at a restaurant in the Piazza Maggiore. We had the wonderful view of the piazza, basilica and all of its surrounding buildings. For dinner we had to enjoy Bologna’s famous bolognese sauce with everything! So, we had tagliatelle pasta with bolognese ragu and Emilia Romagna’s traditional lasagna verdi alla bolognese.
Everyone knows the classic lasagna, but do you know about the lasagna verdi? Lasagna verdi alla bolognese is Bologna’s classic lasagna made with spinach pasta, hence the verdi “green”. It is also made with their classic bolognese ragu and béchamel sauce layered between the spinach sheets. This lasagna was hands down the best we have ever had. My Aunt Sue, was lucky to learn from my stepdad’s mom and she too makes amazing lasagna verdi alla bolognese for the holidays. Is it Christmas yet? We could use some lasagna verdi alla bolognese right about now!
We all said most of our goodbyes to everyone that evening because everyone had a very early start the next day to catch their flights. The goodbyes lasted for at least an hour – typical of an Italian family. It was a wonderful trip that we will remember forever and are excited to plan the next family vacation!
Driven by Passion
We took a taxi to the airport with my cousin Angela and her fiancé, Josh. While they went to catch their flight, we went to pick up our rental car from Maggiore. We have rented cars at airports many times, but this was a different experience entirely. We understood that we were in Italy, but it was a little bit of a cultural shock. Details were not given to us, they just handed us our keys and wanted us on our way, but we annoyed them with our questions anyways because we wanted to make sure we knew all of the rules and restrictions. Once we felt comfortable we were on our way to find our rental car for the month. Lo and behold, we met our little FIAT! It was the smallest car we had ever driven and was our main mode of transportation for the remainder of our trip in Italy.
So, in our little FIAT we started our drive out of Bologna and towards Modena! Bologna was a nice relaxing layover that we hope to revisit and explore more thoroughly next time.