BOLOGNA, Italy – Saying that Italians have a PASSION for food is an understatement. But particularly for the inhabitants of Bologna, where a stroll through its city square beneath its block upon block of centuries old porticos (there are 39 kilometers of these arched porticos) there’s a Trattoria to suit even the most discerning palate…or should I say sense of smell? It is not easy to resist the fragrant mortadella, a plate of small tortellini or tagliatelle Bolognese, all “made from scratch”.

Besides having the oldest university in Europe, and the most towers of any city (I highly recommend climbing one of these towers to get the best perspective of this bustling university town), Bologna is renowned for its culinary legacy, even earning the nickname “The Food Capital of Italy.” So, when the ESCAPESEEKER film team arrived in Bologna last summer to begin filming our “La Dolce Vita” episode, we couldn’t pass up the opportunity for me to learn the art of making truly authentic Bolognese delicacies from PASQUALE FALANGA, the renowned Executive Chef of the Carracci restaurant, located at the 5-star Grand Hotel Baglioni, which is not only worth a visit for its exquisite cuisine–but you’ll also get the chance to admire the magnificent frescoes by Bologna’s painters (one of whom the restaurant is named).

Take a look at the photo montage below, created by our famed ESCAPESEEKER still photographer, Chad Buchanan. I never knew learning to make pasta could be this much fun. I must warn you–you’ll suddenly feel your hunger pangs setting in…no worries, if you want to taste our Chef’s excellent Bolognese style dishes, just book a table at the Carracci. Better yet, book a stay at the Grand Hotel Bologna, and I’m sure the Resident Manager, Tiberio Biondi, would gladly arrange a private cooking lesson for you too! Just go to: http://www.baglionihotels.com/pages/eng_hp_bologna.jsp

Please Note: Be sure you turn off the “Music Playlist” located on the right column before you begin to view the photo montage.

By the way, don’t tell anyone, but BOLOGNA is Italy’s best kept secret! Our entire ESCAPESEEKER team agreed that it was the most “authentic” Italian city–totally unspoiled by the usual bus-loads of tourist you normally encounter in other widely visited destinations. By ‘authentic’ we mean most of the extremely welcoming people we met in Bologna where actually from Bolgona! At first glance and you’re likely to think, “Wow, this is one old city!” But do not let its facade fool you. Did you know that Bologna is the first city in Europe (maybe the world) to be totally wi-fi capable? Yes, you can set up your lap top in the middle of the city square and get cyber connected instantly. You can surf the net all you want! How absolutely cool and thoroughly modern is that?

But never mind that lap top–I recommend you take a nice stroll under Bologna’s famous porticos and discover one of these traditional trattorias, where you’ll find a welcoming and country-style atmosphere. You’ll likely appreciate the local restaurant manager’s affable manners: Belle Arti, not far from the Municipal Theatre, the memorable Boni and the famous Meloncello, next to the Arch going towards the Sanctuary of Saint Lucas; these are just a few trattorias definitely worth experiencing.

There’s also Al Caminetto d’Oro, only a few steps away from Piazza XVIII Agosto, where you can savour sausages and Bermuda grass, the famous handmade tortellinis and boiled homemade meatballs.

Being Italy’s ‘Food Capital’, of course, Bologna’s not only about trattorias–there are excellent restaurants too. In addition to the elegant Carracci I metioned earlier, there are others, well-known for their menus that are said to be linked to crucial historical events in town. For instance, along Via Indipendenza you can’t miss the massive window displays of the DianaBolognese, boiled and roast meat, fried mixed meat and the traditional rice cake and ice cream, which makes for a sweet ending to an excellent Bolognese dinner.

Bologna’s huge university student population makes it a lively place, especially in the weekends. We captured this lively ambiance on film as we dined beneath the stars, listening to up-and-coming musical artist from the University of Bologna perform. Clearly, Bologna is steep in history as well as talents! (Stay tuned to KOCE-TV where ESCAPESEEKER joins its Fall line-up of new programs. You’ll get an opportunity to view ESCAPESEEKER’s La Dolce Vita, Italian episode, in its entirety.)

As much as we want to keep Bologna a secret so it can retain its Italian ‘authenticity’–it is definitely worthy of being put on your list of places to visit the next time you are in Italy! Bologna’s food and wine legacy comes from the past and is tightly linked to its history. People say, for instance, that a piece of tortellini was made by a cook who had seen Venus’ navel–he was so fascinated and mesmerized by the sight of it that he decided to recreate what he saw using his art of making food!

PS: If you suddenly find yourself over-eating, don’t worry. You can always burn those calories by jogging up to the Basilica overlooking the city…and with the 39 miles of porticos, you’ll be protected the entire time! 🙂

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