Friday, August 26, 2011

A Month in Italy - Bologna, Abruzzo, Le Marche and Stresa

I returned yesterday after spending a fantastic month in Italy, three weeks of which were in Abruzzo. We started off our first week in Stresa on Lago Maggiore, and then travelled down to Abruzzo. I kept a small journal of what we did each day and as the last days of the holiday are freshest in my memory this is where I shall begin and then work backwards to the day when we arrived…
Hotel Porta San Mamolo, Bologna
We were in Bologna for the last two days of our vacation before flying back to Dublin. We treated ourselves to a night at the beautiful Hotel Porta San Mamolo which is an oasis of peace in the heart of the city and I highly recommend it. The owner welcomed us warmly and recognised us from our three night stay there last August. Our Bolognese friend Enrico brought us to dinner in the evening to a fabulous family-run trattoria, Nonna Aurora, serving homemade regional specialties. It is near the train station on Via Aristotile Fioravanti, 45. Enrico said that it was in an area not often visited by tourists. The dining area is very inviting and the host Max is very friendly. On three walls are enormous sepia coloured photos of central Bologna. The two brothers, Max and Davide, work as waiters while their mother ‘Nonna Aurora’ does the cooking. She makes all of the pasta by hand and is a young-looking, sprightly grandma who wears her dark hair tied back with a headscarf.  As we had no lunch that day due to travelling, we were feeling very hungry. I don’t know if this contributed to our enjoyment of the meal, but at the end we felt that this was one of the best meals of the holiday!

Ristorante Nonna Aurora, Bologna

Enrico ordered for us as he knew from experience which dishes were the best. First we had the most exquisite tortellini in brodo (small ring shaped pasta filled with pork in chicken broth) that I've ever tasted.
Tortellini in brodo
Next we had a mix of gramigna al sugo di salsiccia and tagliatelle al sugo di cipolla. Normally, I don’t like the taste of onion (cipolla), but these were really sweet and delicious. The sausage meat sauce braised in wine served with the gramigna was so flavoursome too.

Gramigna al sugo di salsiccia and
Tagliatelle al sugo di cipolla
This was followed by delectable fried pillow-shaped focaccia like bread – crescentine con affetati misti. It was served with a platter of Parma ham, mortadella, salami and a typical soft cheese called stracchino from Romagna, along with olives and pickled onions.

Crescentine con affetati misti
If you are ever in Bologna and want to taste real Bolognese food, reasonably priced and  prepared with care and dedication, visit 'Le Golosit√† di Nonna Aurora’. It is very popular with the locals – always a good sign- so booking is advised. Max, the host, speaks English very well. +39 051 357 919
Night time walk in Bologna

After that wonderful meal Enrico took us on a magical night-time stroll around the historical centre of Bologna (il centro storico). I’ll write about this in my next post…


  1. Ciao, carissima Nora! I'm glad that you spent a wonderful time in Bologna. Tante belle cose!

  2. I can't wait to hear about the rest of your travels! I'm working on plans for my first visit to Bologna next spring and will be staying at the same hotel.

  3. Thank you Tatiana and Janie! You have encouraged me to continue will love Bologna!

  4. I hope to be in Bologna for the first time in May and have reservations for the same hotel. Thank you for the dinner recommendation-it looks wonderful.

  5. Hello,

    Thanks for this review. We visited this place for dinner on our visit to Bologna...must say....the best food of our trip to Italy! Thank you...thank you :-)