June 27, 2014

Summer in Bologna

The weather's been unexpectedly mild. Mostly cool at night but warm and sometimes muggy during the day. But hey, who is complaining with all the wonderful things to do at night.

Just grab a nice gelato (from one of my favorite places) and head on to one of these events one evening.

There is the Slow Food market that takes place every Wednesday evening in Piazzetta Pasolini (Cinema Lumière), in via Azzo Gardino street in the Giardino Klemlen. You can buy your fruit, vegetables, organic bread and baked goods, cheeses, eggs... but you can also buy handcrafted beer, wine, enjoy cooked seafood and listen to music. Its a great way to spend some time with friends and enjoy the warm weather. For more info click here, please remember its on Wednesday evening (not on Monday).

Then there's the free evening movie in the main square: Piazza Maggiore shown in the original language with subtitles. For the complete schedule, check the Bologna Welcome site here.

There are numerous, mostly free, concerts that take place in town, for every age group and pocket. Check the Bologna Be' site.

June 25, 2014

The Best Gelato in Bologna

Italian gelato, now that is an interesting subject!

Some of my favorite shops (All with lactose free, vegan and gluten free options) are:

Stefino's (now Galleria 49), for its fabulous almond Sicilian granita and its Cream with a hint of lemon zest ice cream.

Cremeria Scirocco in Via Barelli 1/C, Bologna, BO 40138.
fabulous and unusual flavors, all rigorously made with high quality and natural ingredients.

Gelatauro on via San Vitale
Any of their chocolate flavors (chocolate with hot pepper, chocolate laced with orange) or creamy nutty  flavours are fabulous.

Sorbetteria Castiglione, in Via Castiglione 44 for its fabulous dark chocolate and cassata Siciliana flavors.

The Sorbetteria has expanded and now has 2 outposts on Via Murri 81 and in Via Saragozza 83 (on the way up or back from San Luca).

Other famous gelaterie (although these are fattier and/or sweeter than my tastebuds like)  that many swear by can be found at:

Cremeria Funivia, Piazza Cavour 1

Cremerie Sette Chiese, Via Santo Stefano 14 - lovely flavors, but a bit too sweet for me but could be perfect for you!

Gelateria Islanda, Via Saragozza 65

Grom On via d'Azeglio

PS don't abide by any of the lists you see out there, do your own research and decide for yourself!

Another article on Gelato in Bologna:

March 27, 2014

Edible Books Festival in Bologna

The International Edible Books Festival 2014 will take place in Bologna, Italy on April 1st. Every participant will present an edible "book", or something that represents a literary work in some way and includes words. In other words, a book to eat!

Several local chefs will present their edible books/works of art. Taste of Italy will present a cooked Bolognese lasagna (fresh pasta, Bolognese ragù, Parmigiano cheese and home made Bechamel sauce). The text on the lasagna reads: Spaghetti Bolognese does not exist. The idea came about to destroy the myth that Bolognese ragu' is served with spaghetti. Never! With spaghetti, the ragu' stays in the bottom of the dish. In Bologna we serve our namesake sauce with fresh noodles, tagliatelle, which holds the ragù so you actually get to eat the pasta with the sauce.

The highest bidder will take a one of a kind, edible piece of art home, just in time for dinner! All proceeds will go to help the Ruffilli Library in Bologna, Italy.

More details as to how this event came to be and why its held on April 1st can be found at

To participate in the event, Just follow the following link: Hope to see you there!

January 31, 2014

The Girl With the Pearl Earring in Bologna: A Report

Reported on February 9th.
What an impressive exhibition! This small exhibition has 36 fabulous paintings from Holland's Golden Age. There are examples from Dutch masters such as Rembrandt (4), Frans Hals, Ter Borch, Claesz, Van Goyen, Van Honthorst, Hobbema, Coorte, Van Ruisdael and Steen.

Exhibited are Vermeer's first first painting: Diana and her nymphs as well as Rembrandt's last work. Then there is Fabritius' beautiful Goldfinch. The master' s paintings demonstrate their mastery in painting light, fabric, skin, tiny details (see Steen's Girl with Oysters) and mastery in depicting gold ornate jewelry (see Hal's Portrait of Aletta Hanemans). All quite impressive.

Turns out that Vermeer's enigmatic The Girl with the Pearl Earring, painted in 1665, is not considered a portrait but was meant as a painting of an oriental girl. In fact, the painting's original title was the Girl With the Turban. 

File:Johannes Vermeer (1632-1675) - The Girl With The Pearl Earring (1665).jpg
The Girl With the Pearl Earring, Johannes Vermeer (1665) 
I liked that most of the paintings were organized by theme in different rooms:  Portraits, Everyday life of ordinary people, still lives, the girl with pearl earring. The rooms were not numbered so you enter a main room with portraits, at the end go left to see the "everyday life" and later walk through the main room with portraits to see the still lives and from there you go to see "the girl." Listening to the audio guide was helpful and helped me avoid straining my eyes in the dark rooms.

Take your time going through because once you leave the last room with the Girl with the Pearl Earring you can't turn around. This is not written down anywhere and I witnessed a couple furiously fighting with the woman guarding the exit. The word exit "uscita" was posted outside the last room, not just inside the last room. So one would see it when it was too late. Plus the last room is incredibly dark, so be prepared or turn on your audio guide and skip reading.

Before you enter the exhibition, you must drop off your coat, purse and any other large items at the FREE deposit area. Then you can pick up audio guides. The shop is in the same area and I must say didn't have much of interest. I usually like to purchase the catalog but was disappointed with the printed quality of several favorite paintings in the book. I ended up purchasing postcards.

Another no-no is that none of the text by the paintings or about the period o the walls are in any language other than Italian. Big mistake! Not sure if the audio guides are available in English, please inquire. Considering that this is the only stop in Europe, the curator should have expected visitors from different parts of Europe (who don't speak Italian). That said, the paintings speak for themselves.
After touring the world for a year, this and 36 other paintings from Holland's Golden Age will be on exhibit in Bologna, the exhibit's only European stop from February 8th through May 25th, 2014 in Bologna's beautiful museum Palazzo Fava, via Manzoni 2.  The museum has organized another exhibition, Around Vermeer, with 25 contemporary Italian artists exhibiting works inspired by Vermeer. The Italian artists include Guccione, Sarnari, Raciti and Forgioli. This 2nd exhibit is on the floor above the main exhibition. No extra payment is necessary to view the second exhibit.
Tickets can be purchased here or directly at Palazzo Fava.
Linea d’Ombra
 tel. +39 0422 3095
fax +39 0422 309777

January 28, 2014

Jan 29 -31st : The Days of the Blackbird

Photo by Andreas Trepte,

I giorni della merla, "the days of the blackbird" refers to January 29th, 30th and 31st, and are supposed to be the coldest days of the year.

It is curious how this old Italian saying is still widely used in the local media and among Italian citizens, especially when we are close to the end of January. Will the giorni della merla be as cold as they are famously known for? This is what everyone seems wonder about, while they wait for the weatherman to make his predictions for this period. When the weatherman announces dropping temperatures and this year, snow, people seem to remember the legend that the nonni told them as children.

There are a couple of legends which explain why these 3 days are referred to as "the days of the blackbird"1.  
The first legend says that blackbirds (called merli in plural which makes no reference to their color) were once white. January consisted of 28 days while February had 31 days. Apparently one of these birds started chirping happily on January 28th, happy that cold January was finally over. January was so angry at the bird's behavior that it asked to borrow 3 days from February in which it unleashed snow, wind, freezing temperatures and rain. The bird hid in a chimney and when it came out it was black from the smoke. Blackbirds have been born black ever since.

A simpler version of this legends states that a female white bird, a merla, and her chicks hid in the chimney during the coldest days of January to stay warm and when they came out they were black from the smoke.

According to the legend, if the "days of the merla" are cold, the spring will be nice; if the 3 days are mild then spring will be late.

Note: Wikipedia, Giorni della Merla