Category Archives: Italy

Bologna, Italy

On Thanksgiving Day, we (myself, Kevin, and our friend) found ourselves in what many consider to be the “food capital of Italy.”  Happy Thanksgiving to us.


Parmigiano-Reggiano...yes, please.

Bologna is the capital city of the rich, food-producing region of Emilia-Romagna. In addition to its famous Bolognese sauce, lasagna, tortellini, balsamic vinegar, prosciutto, mortadella, and Parmigiano-Reggiano (my favorite cheese) are some of the foods that originated in this region.  You must try everything.  This city is definitely a foodie destination which makes it all the more difficult to leave here feeling slim.


Bologna-famous for its porticos (arcades).

Bologna Portico

Besides the food, Bologna is also known for its miles of porticos (arcades), its striking medieval architecture, and as the home of the oldest university in the Western world—The University of Bologna, founded in 1088.  Now that’s old.

Piazza Maggiore

Piazza Maggiore

Piazza Maggiore

Piazza Maggiore

Piazza Maggiore is the main square in Bologna and considered the heart of the city.  It is lined with Gothic and Romanesque style buildings, including the Basilica of Saint Petronio (Basilica di San Petronio).

Bascilica di San Petronio

Bascilica of Saint Petronio

Dedicated to the city’s patron saint, the Basilica of Saint Petronio is the fifth largest in the world.  Construction began around 1390 and continued for several centuries, but the façade remains unfinished (hence, the scaffolding).

Fountain of Neptune

Fountain of Neptune

Located in Piazza Nettuno is the impressive Fountain of Neptune (Fontana di Nettuno).  Sculpted by Giambologna and completed in the mid-1560s, the bronze, muscled figure of Neptune (god of water and sea in Roman mythology) stands high above his lactating nymphs.

Fountain of Neptune

It is said that at a certain angle, one can see just how “well-endowed” the powerful Neptune really is.  (Cheeky Giambologna, very cheeky.)

Asinelli Tower

Asinelli Tower

Garisenda Tower

Garisenda Tower

Built in the 12th century, the Two Towers of Bologna (Le Due Torri) stand as symbols of the city.  The Asinelli Tower (Torre degli Asinelli), about 318 feet high, and the Garisenda Tower, about 157 feet high, are named after the families who built them.  Climb the 500 steps of the Asinelli Tower for (what I’m told) superb views of the city.  It was closed for restoration when we were there, but sometimes medieval structures need a bit of work. : )

Bologna is a beautiful city that does not seem to be overrun by tourists…yet.  It was nice to be surrounded by local people and their beautiful language.

We enjoyed spending our Thanksgiving holiday here and hope to return to this region of Italy at some point in the future.  Grazie mille, Bologna!

Notable Eats:
La Sorbetteria Castiglione (Via Castiglione, 44) – best gelato ever (not kidding)
Tamburini  (Via Caprarie, 1)
Vicolo Colombina (Vicolo Colombina 5/B)
Ristorante da Nello al Montegrappa

And now off to Milan…

Genoa, Italy

Since we did not fly home for the Thanksgiving Holiday, Kevin and I decided to meet a friend from the US (who’s currently living in Tokyo) in Italy.  Yes, it was a lot easier for us to get to Italy from London than for our friend to get to Italy from Tokyo, but it seemed liked the best place to go for a Thanksgiving feast outside of America.

It was a carb-loaded five-day trip with three stops.  Our first stop (a quick one) was Genoa.  With only about six hours to spend, we managed to see some of the city’s main attractions before catching the train to Bologna to meet our friend.

Here are some of the highlights from our whirlwind visit…

Piazza San Lorenzo
Contrasting black and white striped facades—common in Liguria region of Italy.

Genoa (Genova) is located on the northwest coast of Italy, within the Liguria region.  It boasts an important history as a maritime center, as it is home to Italy’s largest port.  It is the birthplace of Christopher Columbus and the place where both pesto and focaccia originated (yum and yum).

Bubble by Renzo Piano

"Bubble" by Renzo Piano

The old harbor area (Porto Antico) was restored and redeveloped by Genoese architect Renzo Piano in the early 1990s.  His “Bubble” (La Bolla) is a glass biosphere that is home to several different tropical plants and animals.  This unique structure definitely makes a statement in this historic port.

Palace of St. George

St. George Slaying the Dragon

Close by the old harbor is the Palace of Saint George (Palazzo San Giorgio), which is now the Port Authority.  Built in the 13th century, its frescoed façade of Saint George slaying the dragon is impressive.

Cathedral of Saint Lawrence

Cathedral of Saint Lawrence

Consecrated in 1118, the Cathedral of Saint Lawrence (Cattedrale di San Lorenzo) blends Romanesque and Gothic elements, along with its distinctive black and white stripes.  The Museum of the Treasury, under the cathedral, is said to hold the Sacred bowl (Sacro catino) used by Christ during the Last Supper.

Sacro Cantino

Could this be the Sacred bowl?

Palazzo Ducale

Doge's Palace (Palazzo Ducale)

Doge’s Palace (Palazzo Ducale) was once the historic headquarters of the Doges of Genoa but now serves as the city’s main cultural center.

Piazza De Ferrari

Ferrari Square (Piazza De Ferrari)

Ferrari Square (Piazza De Ferrari) is Genoa’s main square.  It is considered by many as the “symbolic heart of the city.”  The beautiful building overlooking the fountain is the Palazzo della Nuova Borsa, which was once the former seat of the stock exchange.

Via Garibaldi

Via Garibaldi

Via Garibaldi is famous for its beautiful palazzi.  UNESCO declared these ancient palaces a World Heritage Site in 2006.   Today these buildings are used as offices, museums, galleries, as well as private homes.  Pretty nice.

Even without a taste of pesto or a bite of focaccia, we enjoyed our brief visit to Genoa.

And now off to Bologna…