Monday, October 3, 2011

Bologna - Trattoria da Gianni

It was our last morning in Tuscany. The family woke up to a gorgeous basket of buttery home made croissants and more good old black coffee, although it was just the parents that indulged in the latter.

Before leaving, I had to make sure I took some pictures of Podere San Giusto, so that we had a reminder of the gorgeous accommodation we stayed in. Aren't the grounds just luscious? And flowers so beautifully tended to, even in the colder part of spring...

I had spent the mornings we had here going for runs, just outside the property, which is again, just lovely. There are just fields of olive trees and well, a couple of noisy farm guard dogs as well which would spook me now and again....waah....

And of course, one last picture with our lovely host who brought up croissants and coffee, made dinner, waited up for us when we arrived late at 10pm on our first night, Adriano the farmer.

I've seen on that PSG is not currently taking bookings, and I certainly hope that's not because they have closed down. If you are interested in going to Tuscany, please let me know and I'd be more than happy to pass on their email...!

And after patting the sleepy cat, it was on our way towards Northern Italy.

However, since this was to be one of our shorter drives, I think it was just 4 hours, we figured the natural course of action would be to make a pit stop along the way. And we decided to stop in Bologna.

Bologna is a gorgeous and fairly low key city. But for being low key, it is also absolutely steeped in history, being home to the oldest university in the world, the University of Bologna, which was founded in 1808.

It's famous for it's many towers and length porticoes, gateways and arcades. It's gorgeous to walk around, as the downtown area is really well preserved. It takes you away from the hustle and bustle of a modern city and puts you back in time a little with cobblestone pathways and a mix of stone, brick and painted dusty red buildings.

And yes, although Pisa is famous for it's leaning tower....what little people know, is that Bologna has two leaning towers! Although I suppose since they are not a lovely blisteringly white, or ornate, they're not as amazing to look at unfortunately...I still thought they were pretty cool though. Can you imagine building something that tall on a slant? Apparently the foundations are 10m deep!

We were getting a bit hungry so we ducked into a little cafe, that seemed to have a great fondness for Al Pacino, to get a little nibble. We all naturally decided we needed a 'ragu' or 'bolognese' dish in Bologna and got some lasagne to share.

Cheesy, tomato-y, with nice soft pasta sheets. Mmhmm.

However, Dad decreed the place not suitable enough for lunch, so we up and left to go find somewhere else...

After a couple of random turns, a couple of squares and statues later, we find ourselves following some other couples, walking through yet another archway into a small, hidden alley with Trattoria da Gianni situated in it. The people we had followed had stopped to take pictures in front of the gateway and the restaurant, so we figured it had to be worth while...

It is apparently quite well known by the locals and tourists alike and is also an advocate of the 'slow food' movement, with happy little snail stickers on the window proclaiming it.

It was quite neat inside and although we had no booking, we were able to get a table straight away in the clean but rustic surroundings. The restaurant was surprisingly quite full....although I'm pretty sure we were the only Asians there!

We were presented with an array of different breads, warm and fluffy, the green coloured one caught my eye as mum and I tried to figure out what was in it. Pesto? Spinach? Something to try at home?

Mum ordered a simple and clean chicken with beans and potatoes. Not the most exciting of the dishes, but the chicken was well cooked, tender and but overall a bit bland otherwise.

We ordered for my brother a gnocchi, I think it was from the special board, with ricotta and tartufati. Tim's gnocchi, although a little anemic in presentation, although I tend to find that fairly common in most gnocchi's, was absolutely lovely. Creamy, dense and well flavoured.

Dad continued on the path of bolognese, or more accurately 'ragu' and ordered the tagliatale with ragu. I thought it was just gorgeous how it was presented, with the almost golden ribbons of pasta, crowned with a little bit of delicious smelling ragu. How I long to see more pasta 'bolognese' like this, not drowned in tomato sauce! Dad enjoyed his dish.

I think I must have been feeling a wee bit full after the lasagne (I know, bad fatty!) and went for a simple, but hearty onion soup. Nothing to boast about, but rustic and enjoyable. Nothing I love like a good onion soup.

To finish, because we didn't get to have our caramel flan in Barcelona, we decided we would have one here. Although not silky smooth, there was a coarseness to it I quite liked, made it really feel like it was made in nonna's kitchen and full of love. Sweet, but not overly so, it was a nice little treat to finish our lazy lunch with.

Overall? Lovely relaxed ambiance and lovely hearty, easy going food.

We ended our little pit stop in Bologna with a couple more obligatory tourist style pictures before continuing the drive to Padova....would I suggest people stop by Bologna? Absolutely, I honestly wouldn't have minded more time and more information to explore a little more of the city.

Yes I abuse my brother. Who doesn't?

Trattoria da Gianni
Via Clavature 18, Bologna, Italy

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