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Rome: There are no puns. Also, Bologna: Don’t ask for Spaghetti
Categories: Photo Set, Travel

Before I start this post, I should point out that my travel friend, Alican, and I, are not the best with preparation. I will back this up by mentioning that my previous post has been updated with a little story that I forgot to mention: missing the last bus and trains back from Monaco to Nice, and having to hitch hike.

Exported-Blog_bdqr-001We landed in Rome Leonardo da Vinci-Fiumicino Airport, about a 45-1hr train ride outside of Rome city center. Now, that’s an hour-or-so if you don’t miss the transfer, which we did. So our 1 hour journey turned in to a 2.5hr mess, but we made it out alive, and arrived at out Hostel- something that starts with a V. It was nothing special, so I’m not going to talk too much about it, other than to say the back alley was kind of nice looking. Late-night dinner that evening was pasta at a restaurant of the Hostel’s recommendation- again, not impressive, and not worth remembering the name of. I snapped a photo, but both it and the meal were underwhelming. Frankly, I was disappointed for our first few hours in Italy, but we dismissed it as a tourist mistake.

In Rome, it seems that you can NOT walk 20 meters without passing some historical landmark, or some incredibly intricate romantic-era architecture, a fact that we quickly learned the following morning, as we journeyed to the Roman Forum in the sweltering 35+ degree heat. A nice little pro-tip we got from a fellow traveler was to hit the Forum first, then use the same ticket for the Coliseum, since you get to go through the ‘ticket holders’ line rather than the insanely long ‘purchase tickets’ line. If you’re ever in Rome, do the same; the Forum has pretty much no line whatsoever. Also, the audio guide, while not as fancy as that in the Louvre, is very helpful, and really makes the experience a whole lot better. One between two people is sufficient.

Exported-Blog_bdqr-017We spent a solid 3 hours in the Forum, and then after a brief 30 minute absolute downpour, we made our way to the Coliseum for another hour. We decided against the audio guide for the Coliseum, but I’ll admit it was still breathtaking to stand in.

Unfortunately for us, Rome (and, it seems, all of Italy) suffers from the same tragic “restaurants are closed between 4 and 7ish pm” affliction that southern France and Monaco do, and so when our long day of sightseeing was coming to a wrap, we ended up having to settle for overpriced tourist food, again, despite a recommendation from a local about a restaurant nearby, which was closed.

The evening was relatively relaxed- we met a pair of girls our age from Australia near the Spanish steps, and the four of us ended up following a pub-crawl to a cool bar by the water, where they were playing some surprisingly decent House music. After that, aimless wandering around the city lead to my sorrowful discovery that Rome is MUCH more beautiful at night, and that because I didn’t have my D-SLR with me, I couldn’t capture any of it. Pro tip 2: If you have a camera, and are in Rome, definitely don’t leave it at your ho(s)tel when you go out for evening drinks, you will hugely regret it!

Day 1.5: On to Bologna!

While our initial intention was to take a bus from Rome to Bologna, we opted to pay just under double the price to get there in under half the time via the train, which had INTERNET! I know, reddit all the way. Thrilling stuff, and highly recommended if you ever have to do a similar commute. That’s pro-tip number 3… gosh, this article is just chock-full of them!

Exported-Blog_bdqr-037Bologna is a very nice little town. Surrounded by 12 gates dating back to the middle ages (that for some reason I never took a photo of…), it is known for its phenomenal food, and other things, but mostly the food thing. One of those other things is the porticoes, or covered walkways, that wind through the city. Now, while we were there, there was no rain whatsoever, and Wikipedia doesn’t seem to state is as much of a rainy city, so I’m going to go ahead and say these would be much more useful in Vancouver, which DOES get a lot of rain… That said, they are beautiful, and the shade is kind of nice, I guess… But I must say, they make for some great photo scenery!

Naturally, hearing about this foodiness of the town, the first thing we did when we got off the train was stop somewhere for eats. The Pizza place across from the central station in Bologna is probably not the best in town- granted, it looked closer to a chain or franchise than a ma-n-pa place, but the pizza we had there was our first solidly good meal in Italy! A spicy salami for Alican, and I had a cheese, greens and tomatoes pie. We did the half-n-half thing, so we both got half of each, and they were both phenomenal (mine was better :p)

Exported-Blog_bdqr-038-2Dinner that evening was at a wonderful little place called Osteria Dell’Orsa. We got there near closing time, after having checked into our Air BnB, but the staff were still super friendly, and helped us select two delicious dishes. Pro tip number the-one-after-the-last-one: don’t ask for Spaghetti Bolognese, not only is it super touristy, but it’s not actually from here. I ended up with going  with some sort of Macaroni of which the name I cannot recall (if you recognize it in the photos, please leave a comment!), and Alican got the real version of what Spaghetti Bolognese is actually supposed to be- Tagliatelle with ragù: wide, flat noodles, and a tomato-based meat sauce. Both were delicious, and very inexpensive. Highly recommend this place!

The next day was spent walking around the city- while there isn’t as much to see as in Rome, there is still quite a bit, including the apparently well known Two Towers– one of which is crooked… Yeah, I don’t know what’s up with Italians and improperly constructed towers… We also spent some time tracking down well dressed Italians and taking photos of them (to appear in a separate and soon-coming section here on BeCultured.ca as a sidebar), as well as just wandering through the city, and did a bit of shopping.

Exported-Blog_bdqr-044That evening, we hit up a different restaurant for dinner, again at the recommendation of The Guardian, Trattoria Danio, where Mr. Danio himself helped us select our meals, and ensured we were taken care of in every way. The food at Trattoria Danio was, without a doubt, some of the best Italian food I have ever had; hands down. Phenomenal pasta, with a great second course of dry braised short ribs. Delicious, and so filling that we had to take a 40 minute detour on our walk home to aid in digestion. I must apologize now for the lackluster photos of this and the previous meals- they were taken on my camera-phone, and while Nokia has released some excellent new devices, my old Lumia 900 just can’t keep up with the quality of my D-SLR (A Nikon D7000, in case you care).

Well, that was Italy! Short, but good food, and good sights! I will certainly have to return back for some shopping (drool-city, I tell yah… those clothes… my god).

 

Coming up next: Bodrum, Turkey! Or maybe the Greek Islands… Depends which I get to editing first…

 

But first…

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