Bologna + Somewhere in Tuscany

I had mentioned to our niece Genny that the two of us could go somewhere together during the week while we left Steven home to work. (Aren’t we nice?) She chose Bologna mostly because she had heard that it was liberal and LGBTQI+ friendly. Plus, it was only a bit over 2 hours by train as opposed to Venice, which is more than 4 hours. I guess I’m never going to make it to Venice, but who knows.

Sure, Bologna it is, I said. Genny had heard about an LGBTQI+ center that had events, so we booked a room and figured we’d check it out. … Unfortunately, it was only open in the morning and we got there Thursday evening when no events were scheduled. Oh well. Instead, we wandered the city center, ate delicious pasta (what else), rested for a bit and then sat outside sipping a cocktail at a (gay, but not aggressively so) bar just a few blocks away from the hotel.

Friday, we headed back to town and after I caved in and bought a charging cord from the Apple store (poor Genny was a trooper since my cheapness made me search fruitlessly for a knockoff to replace my broken one), we ate breakfast, shopped a bit and headed to the train station. Genny went back to Rome for a weekend with friends (and no old people) and I went to Florence to meet Steven and his friend Ronan. I got there a couple of hours before poor working man Steven, so I went native and decided to sit at a cafe. You may have seen my adventure in trying to speak Italian. Bottle, glass, whatever. It was wine, sun and relaxation in Firenze! And, no, I did not finish the bottle. I tried unsuccessfully to give some of it away, but the Italians and tourists alike seem to love the Aperol spritz. Not a fan, myself.

Fattoria Il Palagio

Steven’s train arrived and Ronan met us at the station for the 40-minute drive to his incredibly beautiful home in somewhere Tuscany that’s 40 minutes northwest of Florence. I dream of living somewhere like that for maybe 6 months or maybe that’s too long considering there’s not much to do. Although … hiking, biking, gardening, photography, eating. We had an amazing time. Friday night, we went to a fabulous local restaurant, Fattoria Il Palagio, that looked like what you would imagine if someone said “Tuscan stone villa” to you. I had fried artichokes (its artichoke season!) and tortelli, which is local to the area and is ravioli stuffed with tomato and potato. How can you go wrong with carbs stuffed with carbs? Oh, and topped with Italian sauce. Steven had the same pasta but with a meat sauce. That’s what he always has. Oh wait, he had something with ragu (a ragu is a meat sauce, but that was my first course, my main course was a local stew called peposo). Sorry, Uncle David. We know it’s not as good as the ragu in Bologna, but according to Steven, it was very good (yes it was fabulous as was the peposo).

We were happy for the chill weekend since we have been doing our usual running around and Steven has been working a ton (to keep me in the lifestyle to which I would like to become accustomed). Ronan is a great host and we enjoyed taking Ronan’s dog Rufus for walks, watching Ronan cook for us, letting Ronan make us coffee, drinking Ronan’s wine(and gin and grappa). My life advice for you is as follows: Make a friend who lives in Tuscany, preferably one as nice as Ronan!

Antica Osteria de Montecarelli

Sunday, we went to Antica Osteria di Montecarelli, a tiny restaurant in what once was a house, and ate giant platefuls of pasta. Ronan had to use his locals only skills to get us in and it was worth it. We stayed full for most of the day and just had a snack for dinner.

Our time in Rome is winding down. This upcoming weekend is Easter(and sadly our last weekend) and already everything is much more crowded and the traffic has multiplied (along with the honking horns). We were thinking of heading to the Vatican to see El Papa, but did you know that Mass starts at 10 a.m. and the recommendation is that we get there by 8 a.m.? That seems early for us, so we may leave the Pope to the Catholics on Easter Sunday. We’ll see.

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