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Jun 12, 2006 02:35 PM

hounding Italy

  • k

Hi all -

I am planning a vacation and hoping you all can help. I plan on spending two weeks in Italy and am curious to get recommendations from my fellow hound. Where would you spend two weeks of culinary adventure time:


I don't necessarily need to spend all two weeks in one location. I am looking for a city with great local food, everything from nice restaurants to markets and street vendors. And enough to do while walking from meal to meal. Any ideas?

I've spent similar vacations in Rome, Venice and Milan, so those are out.


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  1. Bologna. It's not known as La grassa (The fat) for nothing, and below find a little bit on its markets. I'll let others chime in on particular restaurants since it's been some time that I've visited, but another reason to choose this city for a two-week stay is that it is a regional rail center, with easy one-day rail excursions to Verona, Venice, Mantua, Ravenna, Florence, and others.

    Link: http://www.hellobologna.bolognafiere....

    6 Replies
    1. re: jbw
      Peter Cherches

      I recommend splitting your time between Bologna & Verona, which I did once. Verona is wonderful (though very crowded during opera season). From Verona, it's an easy trip to Vicenza, Padua & Venice, and if you want to try Austro-Italian cuisine you can go up to Trento or Bolzano. Bologna is easy for Ravenna, and San Domenico in nearby Imola is one of the top restaurants in Italy.

      As a city to stay in I much prefer Verona to Bologna. If you go to Verona, make sure to eat at Greppia.


      1. re: Peter Cherches

        i agree with verona, greppia yes, tratt tre marchetti next to arena also, also bottega del vino, but dont stay in bologna, stay in modena

        1. re: doc
          Peter Cherches

          The Bollito Misto at Greppia is amazing. I was there in November, when it's "in season." A friend went in the Summer, and they don't do the whole shebang with the rolling cart of boiled meats, carved at your table, but he still loved it. The peara sauce is to die for, literally, since it is made from bone marrow, butter, breadcrumbs & black pepper.

          1. re: Peter Cherches

            Thanks! I'll be going in late October / early November.

            1. re: KAZ

              If you are going to Italy at that time of year, you should leave yourself open to heading up to the Alba/Asti region (the Langhe in Piemonte) if the truffle harvesting season has begun by then. It is hard to imagine a better Italian food & wine experience than traveling thru that part of Italy during white truffle season.

        2. re: Peter Cherches

          Two great eating cities! You can read my report on eating in Bologna last January if you search for it. If you cannot find it, please do not miss Da Cesari and, for more contemporary food, Caminetto d"Oro.
          In Verona, Al Pompiere is essential. My second choice in Verona would be Trattoria Stella. Both of these were recommended to me by a very knowledgeable fellow hound, James G. and both keep me salivating years later. Al Pompiere is known for salumi and the slicing machine gets pride of place in the dining room.

      2. Assuming you are no going in the summer months (as it can get VERY hot & humid then), I second the Bologna recommendation. Bologna is a wonderful town for food and for walking about. As the prior post mentions, there are at least 5 or 6 worthwhile cities to visit within a 60- to 75-minute train-ride of Bologna (Ferrara, Modena, Parma, Mantua & Ravenna). This region is home to four of Italy's finest food items - parmesan cheese, prosciutto, tortellini and balsamic vinegar. The best of all is that Bologna is surprisingly un-touristed by foreigners.

        1. Any of the places you mention will probably be fine, but personally I would go straight to Palermo. After living in Rome for a year, I find the Sicilian cuisine outstanding among the Italian regions. Because of my preference for fish and lighter food -- meals in Tuscany and Emilia-Romagna tend to be too heavy for me.

          1 Reply
          1. re: Jonas
            Peter Cherches

            Yeah, but you've got to love a hectic, crazy, polluted, gritty city experience to spend more than a couple of days in Palermo. I found Ortygia in Siracusa much more pleasant, though hotels are tight on the island so one would be more likely be staying in the characterless modern part of Siracusa.

          2. Thanks to everyone for all your help. I guess I should have mentioned in the original post that I am planning a late October / early November trip.

            Right now I am leaning towards Bologna for a few reasons:
            1. I found an inexpensive apartment for rent
            2. It seems centrally located on the rail system
            3. I am learning Italian and want to use this trip to practice. I have a fear that I will be overwhelmed by the Sicilian dialect, therefore another plus for Bologna over Palermo.

            I definitely want to hit some of the other cities/towns mentioned here. I gave some thoughts to renting a car. Can I get by with day trips via the rails from Bologna and hit everything?

            Thanks again for all your help. Keep those recs coming for places within an easy travel distance from Bologna.

            1 Reply
            1. re: KAZ

              As I said in my earlier post, you can get to the nearby cities of Parma, Modena, Ferrara, Manuta, Ravenna in no more than 60-75 by train from Bologna. My guess is the trains run at least several times a day between Bologna and these cities.

              A day trip to Verona or even Florence is doable as well by train.