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Next up was another leg on our gradual journey back north towards the mountains. Again I was presented with no fixed plan, but I had been formulating an idea based on some comments from our 'homefood' event from the week before. If you recall (assuming you read that section), we had met a family from San Francisco at that meal; they had been very focused on the Italian culinary experience during their travels, and I recalled them talking about the city of Bologna and it's rich and delicious food history. Even more specifically, they had dropped the names of a few especially good restaurants they had visited. Well, I thought to myself, Bologna is pretty much along the way from Pisa to the Dolomites; maybe we could stop in Bologna and sample one of these restaurants. I ran these ideas past Pu and Jenn, and they were keen to do it. So, off to Bologna we went!
Porticos, Bologna
Once arriving in Bologna, the first order of business was much the same as it had been in Pisa the day before: Find a reasonable place to stay. We did what was starting to become routine. Find a place to park the car downtown, and wander around looking for an internet cafe. This we eventually did, and I went through a quick search of expedia and other sites, looking for the best fit for us. I came up something a little different again this time: a 'camping-style' place on the outskirts of the city. They had 'chalets' and 'bungalows' at this spot that seemed to have what we wanted: a bungalow with space for three, air conditioning, internet access, and a good price. Seemed a bit strange, but it fill the bill, so I reserved it.

It was still early afternoon when we completed our lodging logistics, so we thought we might try our special restaurant for lunch. I suppose you may first wish to know what this restaurant is, so let me introduce it. It's name is Trattoria Serghei, and it is a tiny little restaurant whose fame has apparently spread quite far. It serves traditional Bolognese items and has been run by the same family for decades upon decades. We were keen to try it.
Industrial-scale bird feeding
We wandered the narrow side-streets of old Bologna to the address of the restaurant, only to find that it was closed. Looking at the door, we saw that the restaurant is only open for a few hours at lunch, and two hours for dinner in the evening (from 7 to 9pm). Our desire to try this place out was such that we immediately decided that we'd come back for dinner. And, we now had lots of time to go and sign-in to our 'camping' accommodations for the night.
Remnant of Canals
Now, the term 'camping' usually implies something more rustic in North America than it does in Europe. And this was especially so in this case. This place (called the 'centro turistico di Bologna', web site here) turned out to be more like a spread-out motel than anything that I'd call camping: A front-building next to a swing-gate where you went in and registered; then, you drive your car to your assigned bungalow, which is essentially a unit in a motel-like block of rooms, complete with a paved driveway right to your door. The interior is very much like a hotel room - it even had sub-partitions that effectively made into a kind of suite. Really quite nice and about as far removed from camping as you could get without being an actual hotel. And at 70 euros combined for all three of us, it was a pretty good deal.

We returned back to the restaurant shortly after 7pm. We had neglected to call ahead to reserve (figuring we'd be there soon after opening, so we could probably get a table), and this turned out to have been a risky but ultimately lucky thing for us. In short, they were fully-booked for the evening. If we had called over the phone, they would have said so and that would have been that. However, being there in person right at opening time (perhaps they could see the genuine disappointment on our faces) must have struck them in just the right way, and after a bit of rapid-fire Italian to a room in the back, the waiter at the door said that he could squeeze us in before the reservation-holding parties showed up.
courtesy PChen
Trattoria Serghei
Entrance Vestibule, Serghei
Dining Area, Serghei
We were led inside to a tiny little dining area that held perhaps eight or nine tables. The walls were decorated in that dense assemblage of wine bottles, knick-knacks, and old photos that seem common in older, traditional Italian restaurants. Definitely a quaint place.
courtesy PChen
Serghei Place-setting
A bit of Bologna
Dining Area, Serghei
It would appear that most of the people employed at this little restaurant (if not all) are related. It really does seem to be a family-run operation. Our orders were related to the back room not via anything written down, but by a quick raised-voice exchange between the waiter and the chef (who looked like she could be the waiter's mother), who would poke her head briefly into the dining area.

We had a thoroughly enjoyable meal here. The menus were in Italian (ok for me, a bit harder for Pu and Jenn), but I helped them, and all was ok on that front. I had a delicious filet of steak and side dish of very nicely-prepared spinach; Jenn had a serving of Roast Rabbit, and I believe Pu chose the tagliatelle with tomato and meat sauce - a very traditional Bolognese entree.
Dining Area, Serghei
Later, we were examining a 1930s era black-and-white picture of a laughing boy on the far wall from where we were sitting, and we noticed a striking similarity to our waiter. When we finally got the courage to ask, we discovered that there was indeed a family connection. It wasn't a picture of him as a boy, but rather one of his father.
Venchi Gelato Bar
Our dinner at Serghei was a little pricier than some other places we had recently sampled, but the food had been great, and the atmosphere fantastic as well. That made two family-run authentic restaurants in two nights in two different cities! (i.e. this one here in Bologna and Il Nuraghe in Pisa).
Piazza della Mercanzia
Our acquaintainces at the 'homefood' dinner had also made mention of a must-have gelato place in Bologna that, according to my GPS, wasn't a very far walk away. So, with a warm evening now upon us, we decided to saunter down to this gelato bar (called Venchi) and get the scoop on it, as it were. We all found the gelato to be superb, but Jenn's experience was a bit marred by a somewhat surly server.

After the gelato, we wandered about a bit more around the historic downtown core of Bologna, ending up at the Piazza Maggiore, where a large open-air film-festival was taking place. We stood around and enjoyed the pre-show music and ambiance, before heading back to our car and back to our super-lux 'camp'.
Interactive Trackmap, Bologna Walk
Details, Afternoon Walk
Start Time: 3:40p.m.
End Time: 4:30p.m.
Duration: 0h50m
Distance: 2.64 km (1.64 mi)
Average Speed: 3.2 km/hr (2.0 mph)
Start Elevation: 171ft (52m) *
Max Elevation: 224ft (68m) *
Min Elevation: 171ft (52m) *
End Elevation: 215ft (66m) *
* : +/- 75 feet
Total Elevation Gain: 48ft (15m) *
Total Elevation Loss: 16ft (5m) *
* : +/- 75 feet
Details, Evening Walk
Start Time: 8:46p.m.
End Time: 10:09p.m.
Duration: 1h23m
Distance: 2.7 km (1.68 mi)
Average Speed: 2.0 km/hr (1.2 mph)
Start Elevation: 223ft (68m) *
Max Elevation: 316ft (96m) *
Min Elevation: 199ft (61m) *
End Elevation: 210ft (64m) *
* : +/- 75 feet
Total Elevation Gain: 106ft (32m) *
Total Elevation Loss: 96ft (29m) *
* : +/- 75 feet
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[ Europe 2010 home page | Introduction | Wedding | Heading to Riva | Wine Tour | Cima Carega Climb | Cima Carega Descent | Cima SAT Climb | Homefood Dinner | Riva Cycle Ride | Rome I | Rome II | Rome III | Rome IV | Pisa | Pisa & Bologna | Dolomites - Lagazuoi | Dolomites - Ferrata Tomaselli | Return Home | Supplemental - Asmir's Bachelor Party | Supplemental - Avellino | Supplemental - Food | GPS Data ]

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