Eurotrip: Modena & Bologna, Italy

After our time in Strasbourg, Taylor and I took the train to Italy to spend some time with some of his family friends in 2 smaller towns/cities in Italy. We started in Modena, and then went to Bologna. It was great to experience Italy from an Italian's perspective for a few days and get to know Taylor's old family friends -- We had the most wonderful hosts and were sad to leave! (Thank you Laura, Gianfranco, Maurizio, Massimo & Wendy!). This is a collection of pictures from both places -- they are pretty similar, but Bologna is bigger.  They both have the most beautiful sunset colored buildings and little cobblestone roads. We spent most of our time wandering around and eating lots of amazing food.
In Bologna we took a walk up a big hill along the worlds longest continuous portico to see Il Santuario di San Luca -- the view from the top was beautiful! Afterwards our hosts, Maurizio and Massimo took us for a little drive around the hills and we went to a super yummy restaurant tucked away above the city.  
Above: First, the streets of Bologna. Second, beautiful buildings in Modena. My camera was full of pictures like this -- I can't resist those colors!

Maurizio and Massimo's sweet furry daughter, Wendy. We were both pretty smitten with this pup.

TO DO AND SEE: Modena is a super small little town--we just had one full day there which was really plenty of time to do a little exploring.  We started in the center of town and walked around from there. There are a couple of churches to take a peek into (such as the Duomo di Modena), but what we enjoyed most was just finding interesting streets to walk around and little stores to pop into (our hosts recommended walking down Via Taglio). There is a Ferrari Museum nearby for car lovers -- I guess a couple of famous car designers grew up in the area. When we were there all of the piazzas were filled with displays of super expensive cars -- there was some sort of convention going on. Didn't interest me much, but I made sure to send lots of pictures to my car obsessed brother!
TO EAT AND DRINK: We didn't actually eat out in Modena so I don't have much to say about restaurants -- We were lucky enough to have an amazing cook as our hostess! But, let me just tell you now, don't leave Italy without eating prosciutto e melone.  This is what we had for lunch on our first day, and I was addicted for the rest of the trip. In terms of places to grab a drink--we were wandering around in the rain on our one full day in Modena and stumbled across the coolest little bar called Juta CafĂ© (on Via Taglio).  It actually really reminded us of Portland--the picture above (with the quote) is from there. I would definitely recommend stopping there for a drink.

TO DO AND SEE:  Definitely take the walk up the portico to see San Luca.  It is a pretty long walk but definitely worth it.  Or if you have a car and want to drive up I would recommend driving around the area afterwards to find a place to eat among the hills -- unfortunately I can't remember the name of where we ate, but we passed a lot of restaurants in the area that looked nice. While we were in town we saw a lot of monuments and really beautiful churches around the city--I don't remember all of their names, but that is something you can find in a guide book! We also enjoyed walking around the student quarter--it was a nice little area to explore. Do a little shopping if that's your thing -- There is a big Zara and an H&M that is way better than ones in the U.S.  There are also quite a few boutiques that have beautiful locally designed to look into but a little pricey.  
TO EAT AND DRINK: Oh my goodness guys.  We had the best food ever in Bologna.  Apparently it's the place to go for Italian food. Two restaurants I would highly recommend: Casa Monica (on via San Rocco) was a little more fancy and not strictly traditional (still Italian but with a fancy twist). It's a beautiful little restaurant that is family owned. On our last night we went to a restaurant called Tratorria della Santa (on via Urbana) that was very traditional Bolognan food. I had ravioli the way it is traditionally eaten--in a broth--and an incredible tiramisu. So yummy. The food is reason enough to stop in Bologna for a day or two.  In terms of drinks, we went to this really cool place that our hosts recommended called Le Stanze (on Via Borgo di San Pietro) in the student quarter.  The drinks were pretty good but they also gave us a strange (free) plate of random (slightly stale) nibblies...Which were not so good. But it is a really neat spot---apparently it was originally the 16th-century private chapel of the Palazzo Bentivoglio so it is painted with really beautiful frescoes. They also have a couple of tables outside--great people watching spot. It sounds like the actual meals there are quite good so I would still recommend giving it a try. On our way back we stumbled upon what looked to be a pop up bar in the middle of Piazza Marco Biagi. Unfortunately we needed to get back for dinner so we couldn't stop, but it looked like a fun place to check out.  I'm not sure if it happens everyday, but if you're interested maybe drop by around dinner time--that is when they were setting up!

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