And by "we" I mean, the Iaciofano Family - not Montell Jordan and his crew - but when traveling with Mom, things are always a tad "gangsta" in a sense, so the reference has some relevance. You see, Mom owns and operates her own culinary cooking/travel business to Italy, so when she dials up an itinerary for the fam with all of her connections and contacts, it gets pretty effing filthy. (See definition 2)
Last week, the whole foursome (Mom, Dad, Elana, and myself) followed Mom through Bologna, Verona, and Lake Como - in that order. It was an absolutely wonderful experience, with each destination having its strong points in terms of exploration, sights, shopping and food.
The first stop was Bologna which, in comparison with Verona, was the slightly grittier, international, more substantial of the two major cities. With the University of Bologna right in town, the city is slightly dominated by young, interesting looking creatures overflowing into the piazzas and supplying energy throughout the entire town. It's a 10 out of 10 from a people watching perspective. From an architectural standpoint, I found it simply amazing; everywhere you walked, there were marvelous old archways lining the streets like the one above. In addition to its usefulness during a passing rain shower, the thousands of columns and covered marbled sidewalks really injected some "this place must have been really sick back in the day" type imagery.
Eataly in Bologna (one of its seven Italian locations) - which had little, if any, in common with the one in Manhattan. It was a smaller (like many things in terms of an Italy vs US size comparison), modern deli serving fresh panini's and espresso, but not much else. Still, the locals weren't scared of it. I had to take this picture but don't be fooled, Bologna had plenty of homegrown, boutique delis and salumerias of its own.
Of the meals we had, our dinner on our final night at Pappagallo - which was almost like a quaint medieval church inside and out - was definitely the highlight. For a primi, I had Lasagna Bolognese (I mean, how could I not?) which featured a crispy, golden crust, and meaty, warm delicious center. I was not disappointed whatsoever. I also stole some of Mom's artfully homemade tortellini in a pesto sauce with butter and sage.
But the main event was the dinner - the "Veal Bolognese for Two" - a pounded, breaded veal chop with melted cheese and prosciutto on top. Salty and satisfying as all hell, this sucker had me and dad administering an NJ fist pump between every fourth bite or so. Just a bad ass, serious meal for men on a mission. The veal was purely white, with a perfectly toasted exterior and mouth watering aftertaste. The cheese and meat was like sprinkling crack on your frosted flakes - perhaps overkill, and yet irresistably amazing. As an added bonus, our server cut the chop at the table.
Not to be forgotten were the scrumptious zucchini fries - moist, cracking, salty. Ooph, was that a meal.
And when the meal was complete, I sampled some gelato from what I concluded was probably one of the top 3 greatest gelatos I have ever experienced. No lie. This little storefront seen above was serving up some of the best gelato I've had.
Bologna was truly a marvelous, beautiful city and I feel like I only scratched the surface, but something told me that the better part of the trip lied ahead. Onto Verona the Iaciofanos went. Stay tuned for more information on the remainder of the voyage...