I hadn't been to Bologna since my first extended trip to Italy in 1996. A lot of my friends have told me how beautiful it is and I remember having quite fond memories of my visit. We were trying to think of a place to go that wasn't far from Florence and since my sister and her family have already visited a lot of Tuscany other times, Rome, Cinque Terre, and Venice, so we decided to go to Emilia-Romagna for a small change.
We took the Eurostar to Bologna and arrived an hour later. We waited in line to take a taxi to go to Piazza Maggiore. I didn't do any research beforehand, so we bought a small guidebook at the train station to figure out where we should go.
The first thing we did was visit the Basilica di San Petronio. I was impressed with how big and bright it is and found out that it's one of the biggest in the world.
Afterwards we walked behind the church and shopped a little bit. I was impressed with their little enclosed mercato (market) where they were selling fresh fruits and vegetables. It made me miss my mercato a little bit.
At one of the shops, we asked where we could go for lunch and the man suggested a restaurant around the corner. I told the waiter that I wanted us to eat some of the specialità bolognesi (specialities in Bologna) as I did see a few specialità toscane that I didn't want to eat. We ended up eating tagliatelle al ragù (tagliatelle with meat sauce), which was very good. I also ordered a semifreddo alla fragola con una salsa di aceto balsamico (strawberry semifreddo with a balsamic vinegar sauce), which was absolutely delicious.
Unlike Florence, most shops in Bologna close between 1.30 and 3.30, so we window shopped and walked around a bit. We sat in front of the Basilica di San Petronio and I took a picture of one of the buildings in the piazza. We wanted to go to the Archeological museum, but it was closed by the time we got there. As soon as the shops opened, we walked toward the train station and checked out all the shops along the way.
We were a bit tired from our day trip that we decided to change our tickets and go back to Florence early. We got lucky and only had to wait about 15 minutes before our train arrived.
I took the bus back to my apartment and had dinner while my sister and her family went out to eat again. I did like Bologna, but I couldn't live there. For me, there is only Florence.
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