Scott & Janet on Rick Steves' Heart of Italy 2016
Scott & Janet on Rick Steves' Heart of Italy 2016

Bologna, the home of Delicious!

Does a quick stop in Bologna count as fast food? 

No. No, it doesn't.

We enjoyed wandering through the city center of Bologna with its 24 miles of porticoes. Highlights of our walking tour included seeing the Le Due Torri (the two towers), the magnificent unfinished facade of the San Petronio Basilica, and visiting the Basilica of Santo Stefano. It's known locally as Sette Chiese or the "seven churches," a complex encompassing seven distinct churches. 

We joined a fabulous local tour guide, Fabio, to sample the area's most famous DOP foods. The designation DOP is short for Denominazione di Origine Protetta (literally “Protected Designation of Origin”). As the the name suggests, this certification ensures that products were made by local farmers and artisans, using traditional methods.

An attic with aging balsamic in barrels. The size of the barrels decreases as moisture decreases and the deliciousness increases.

An attic with aging balsamic in barrels. The size of the barrels decreases as moisture decreases and the deliciousness increases.

Dry curing of Prosciutto in Parma. The traditional process takes almost two years!

Dry curing of Prosciutto in Parma. The traditional process takes almost two years!

First the Parmesan, then onward to the Prosciutto & Balsamic Vinegar! (Oh, and then lunch!)

We started bright and early on the morning of our ninth wedding anniversary, arriving at a factory in time to see Parmesan cheese being made from milk provided by cows that very morning.  Since it was breakfast, we had some wonderful Lambrusco wine to accompany our cheese.  The cheese aging room smelled like savory, salty heaven!

Our second stop was a factory that produced Prosciutto di Parma.  We saw where they salted and dried the pork (hind legs only), then aged it to perfection.  We were, once again, fed way too much marvelous food.

Our third stop was an attic used to age Balsamic Vinegar de Modena.  The attic smelled sweet and exotic from the wooden barrels of aging vinegar.  Downstairs, we tasted vinegar of different ages and found that the 25 year old Balsamic was unbelievably delicious and complex. Of course, a small bottle made its way back home with us! 

Our final tour stop was a late lunch at Trattoria Sant' Antonio. Why is the name so important? On the day of the tour, nine years before, we were married in San Antonio, Texas at the Saint Anthony hotel.  It was a sweet reminder of where we started! 

Our multi-course lunch was scrumptious, even if Fabio did have to force feed us just a little bit.