Friday, December 7, 2012

Milan 2012: Day 12, Bologna

Churches in Europe are always under some kind of restoration because they are so old and the San Petronio Basilica on Piazza Maggiore, Bologna was covered in a printed cloth screen. We checked it out anyway.

The Gothic San Petronio Basilica was intentionally made plain and unimpressive to bring people to focus on God, not man.

The sombre holy atmosphere of traditional churches always brings me to my knees (my Catholic upbringing conditioned me to enjoy kneeling) more than the rah!rah!rah! of charismatic churches.


Bologna's other nickname is La Dotta (The Learned) because The University Of Bologna (Dante studied here!), is the oldest university in Europe. Established in 1088 (924 years ago!), this university is technically the world's oldest too, older than University of Al-Karaouine, Morocco (founded 859, by a woman!) or Al-Azhar University, Egypt (founded 970) because the term 'university' was first coined at its creation. The said universities in Morocco and Egypt didnt start out as universities; their ranking as a university came later.

What is the other nickname for Bologna? Hint: look at the buildings.





Yes, the buildings are all in shades of brick terra cotta. Here's a beautiful aerial photo of the city I grabbed from here:

The church is on the left of the square.

Bologna's three nicknames are "La Grossa, La Dotta, La Rossa"!--The Fat (for the food), The Learned (for the oldest university), The Red (for the red buildings and for being the birthplace of Italy's leftist politics).

All the dogs of Bologna were out that day!

It was time to get back to Milan to go on to Lake Como but we didn't want to leave Bologna! One more night, we agreed, and we'll cut off one shopping day in Milan. So what did we do with the stolen time? We took it slow, eating ice creams and snacking on street food like pastries and coffee. We also ended up shopping.

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Yi had a good meal at Osteria Dell 'Orsa on her previous trip to Bologna so we went there for dinner. The queue was long but we got a table within 15 minutes because a table for two was easier to secure.

The main courses were incredibly simple and few. Prices were cheap. We asked for a bigger menu but this was it. Nothing looked appealing to me.

We were both disappointed. Where's the meat?! Yi had eaten a delicious mixed cured meat and squacquerone plate previously but what came was a bowl of  squacquerone and fried bread. Her pasta al forno was not better than any we could've eaten in Malaysia.

My  ravioli al zucca in butter was too oily and boring after a few bites. We couldn't believe it, this was Bologna and the restaurant seemed very popular.

A pair of handsome Swiss lovers were seated near us and after their main dish, they had another order which came and which they returned and it came back, same except for the addition of walnuts. They looked at us and we all burst out laughing. I think we weren't the only disappointed diners that night. 

Dissatisfied, I asked for the menu again. Turned out that we should've ordered the last item, the affettato misto which everybody else was having. Ah well.


I decided after this that I had enough of osterias and trattorias. I missed modern plating, new twists on traditional dishes, the kind of food that has evolved in countries such as Australia. I must say that of all the countries I've visited, Australia's restaurants are up there, with great choices of different cuisines, excellent quality and masterchefsmanship. However, Australia is more expensive than even Europe (excluding Scandinavian countries and Switzerland) and I'd rather stay home and clean my fridge (quoting Rick Steves) than go somewhere where there's nothing much to see or do. When my friend pulled her daughter out from Australia to England for studies and said that Europe offers much more exposure and depth for a young person, I argued otherwise. Now that I've been to many parts of Europe, I tell my kids, please go to Europe! Australia is great when you are middle-aged and settled but when young, please go to Europe, to where great ancient civilisations, movements, cultures, economies, traditions and ideologies started, and be inspired.  I know, shoot me.


Becky said...

I've certainly enjoyed your trip to Europe! Thanks for sharing! Your beautiful pictures make me feel like I'm almost right there!

Anonymous said...

Terry!!!...if I was in Italy you would have been my guest at home, in Prato! ..and I'm sure you would have liked my mum's food a lot!!
I'm glad you enjoy Italy. I don't like Milan a lot: too expensive, too busy, too "snob", too smoggy, but the cathedral is wonderful, you're right!!

Anonymous said...

Amen to what you said about Europe being culturally richer than Australia & the best for savouring the experiences!!! 100% agreed.

terri@adailyobsession said...

Becky: u r welcome:)
Laubao: oh, i would love to eat our mom's food! One day, one day, i will make it to florence again:)
I dint find Milan smoggy, maybe bc it was cold. Yi did point out tt Milanese r more reserved, not as openly friendly as other Italians.
Anon: europe is awesome!

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