Country Roads: Bologna -- Gone in Sixty Minutes | ©Tom Palladio Images

The late Italian film director Sergio Leone, best remembered for his “spaghetti westerns,” brought together three unique characters in his U.S. Civil War period feature centered on the search for buried Confederate gold: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly. The 1966 flick runs 161 min. and stars Clint Eastwood (the Good), Lee Van Cleef (the Bad), and Eli Wallach (the Ugly).

Bologna, the capital city of the Emilia-Romagna region of central Italy, has three unique sides to its personality, too. It’s known as La Dotta (The Learned) because the oldest university (1088) in the western world is there; La Rossa (The Red) because of the terra-cotta color of the roofs; and, La Grassa (The Fat) because of all of the great cuisine found within its postal code.

Unlike Leone’s classic, Bologna has no runtime, but my presence here does.

Country Roads: Bologna -- Gone in Sixty Minutes | ©Tom Palladio Images

You see, my band of merry media — guests of Insight Vacations on one of its Country Roads of Italy journeys — has just hopped off the motorcoach at the edge of Bologna’s centro storico (historic center).

Before we’re unleashed, Belinda, Insight’s tour director-slash-storyteller, puts everyone on the clock.

We have exactly 60 min., or just a bit more than a third of the way through Leone’s capolavoro (masterpiece), to wolf down lunch, on our own euro, and see what we can see of this triple-headed city before the sand in the hourglass runs down. Tick…tick…tick…

Country Roads: Bologna -- Gone in Sixty Minutes | ©Tom Palladio Images

Feeling like a contestant on one of the legs of The Amazing Race, I do what anyone would do when time is of the essence: ask a local.

I pop into a nearby tabaccheria (tobacco shop) for a quick lunch recommendation, and the friendly attendant behind the register, without blinking an eye, responds: Il CaliceIt’s a bar, straight ahead on Via Clavature. Walk through the portico and it’ll be on your right.

Got it. And I dash out like the White Rabbit sans the oversized pocket watch.

Tick…tick…tick…

Country Roads: Bologna -- Gone in Sixty Minutes | ©Tom Palladio Images

Il Calice — the Chalice — is right where it’s supposed to be, and pretty much empty when I enter.

Massimo, the barista, tells me there’s a small restaurant upstairs, but I’m on the clock, watch, hourglass, whatever, and stay put at street level and order what I see eyeing me back: a tray of tartine, delicious bite-sized open sandwiches topped with shrimp, avocado and fresh veggies.

I grab two, along with a glass of sparkling white wine followed by a caffè macchiato (an espresso with foamy milk).

In between bites and sips, Massimo gives me a quick lay of the land. As it turns out, I’m standing right in the middle of where Bologna clicks, the Quadrilatero neighborhood of the centro storico. 

Country Roads: Bologna -- Gone in Sixty Minutes | ©Tom Palladio Images

It’s the city’s old market area, with narrow streets and shops filled with all kinds of food products, fresh produce, along with catches-of-the-day from the nearby Adriatic Sea.

And I’m just an alley or two over from the very expansive Piazza Maggiore where the Fountain of Neptune, Palazzo D’Accursio, and the Basilica of San Petronio, home to the world’s largest sundial, are located.

Speaking of sundials, I’m late! I pay the bill, thank Massimo, and, under the cover of some of Bologna’s 40-kilometers of porticos, pass quickly by the aforementioned landmarks toward the prearranged meet-up point.

Tick…tick…tick…

Country Roads: Bologna -- Gone in Sixty Minutes | ©Tom Palladio ImagesAll present and accounted for, we head back to the motor coach, hop aboard and let The Learned, The Red and The Fat fade away. Bologna, gone in 60 minutes.

While we’re reclining our business-class legroom seats, Belinda announces, excitedly, our new GPS coordinates.

We’ve got a two-hour drive ahead of us to reach the last chapter of our “Country Roads” journey. We’re headed to Venice! The city of canals, gondolas, Casanova, Carnivale, decorative glass and sparkling Prosecco wine!

Someone in the peanut gallery raises their hand and asks, Did you just say, “the LAST chapter of our Country Roads journey”?

Take Me along, Country Roads | ©Tom Palladio ImagesYes, Belinda replies.

All together now: Turn the coach around so we can re-start this journey!

For complete information on Insight Vacations‘ 12 Italian premium and luxury-escorted itineraries and over 100 journeys throughout Europe, just click HERE, or call toll free (888) 680-1241, or contact your travel agent.

See you soon on the private water taxi as we float down the Grand Canal to the Bauer Hotel, our five-star, luxury bunkhouse while we’re guests in La Serenissima.

Ciao for now.

©The Palladian Traveler

Borsalino w/ props SMALL | ©Tom Palladio Images

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Written by The Palladian Traveler

Tom traded his hometown St. Louis Cardinals' baseball cap in the United States for a Borsalino and he now hangs his "capello" in the Puglia region of southeastern Italy. A veteran print and broadcast journalist, with well-worn passports that have got him into and out of 50 countries and counting, Tom fell in love with the "Bel Paese" years ago. As he notes, "I'm inspired by the beauty I find in all things that are very, very old, and reliving history, or at least meandering along cobblestone streets that were laid down over a thousand years ago and just looking up and marveling at what occupies the space still today, really gets my 'Vespa' running." Tom has a good eye behind the lens and is a graphic storyteller, but he'll let you decide as he keeps his camera batteries fully charged and the posts flowing from his creative hideaway in the hills overlooking Ostuni. You can also follow his dispatches along the cobblestone via TravelingBoy.com.

8 comments

    1. We were on the clock. Had to be up in Venice by 5:30 pm for the awaiting private water taxis. Hey, I was along for the ride, so I’m not really complaining. I managed to eek out a blog post. Now you know that Bologna is known as Fatso.

      Like

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