The bulbous tortellini babies in the window of Paolo Atti e Figli called out to me in a chorus of high, squeaky voices not unlike those of Alvin and the Chipmunks. "We are great in number! Only you can save us from overpopulation! YOU MUST DESTROY US! With your mouth."
I considered saving them from a future of starvation brought upon by overcrowding, but...I couldn't. For one thing, tortellini can't speak; I don't know what the hell I was hearing. More importantly, my tummy rumbled for something else. And that something was...
For lunch we went to La Sorbetteria, Morten's favorite gelateria, Out of all the gelaterias we went to, this one had the most interesting flavor combinations, and I'm not talking about Ben & Jerry-esque combinations like "fudge-covered peanut butter-filled pretzels in vanilla malt ice cream rippled with fudge and peanut butter" (not that I wouldn't be willing to try that...just making a distinction). I may have never previously thought, "Gee, I could go for a cup of mascarpone gelato with pine nuts or ricotta gelato with dried fruit and melted chocolate"—my desires are usually expressed in a more general way, like, "I WANT ICE CREAM"—but they were never options before. Now that they were, I wanted all of it.
Since I couldn't get all of it, I settled for a cup of Dolce Emma (cream of ricotta & dried figs with honey) and Dolce Contagio (cream of pine nut & caramel candied walnuts). The Dolce Emma was unsurprisingly very sweet, not because of the gelato part but because it contained one of the sweetest fruits in concentrated form, then coated in honey. Although I love figs, I think the ricotta got lost under the sugar-engorged fig. Or maybe the ricotta was meant to mellow out the fig. Probably. Maybe. My taste buds might not work properly in the morning.
I liked the Dolce Contagio more. The candied walnut bits punctuated the mild pine nut gelato with sweet, crunchy...bits. Yeah, I need a bigger vocabulary, I know. How about this: it was like there was a party in my mouth mostly populated by people just lounging around and sipping wine, mellowing out to AIR's "Moon Safari" or something, but every now and then my jaws crushed the bones of a wayward dancer. Yeah, I AM THE CRUSHER.
Morten went for a gelato sandwich, aka gelato smothered between two halves of a brioche slab. He was quite happy. While I don't doubt that a gelato sandwich tastes awesome, one small cup of gelato is usually enough to satiate me, surprisingly. (I can eat two cups of gelato in one day, but...er, not one right after the other.) I fear that adding a chunk of bread to the equation would mess things up.
After finishing off his gelato, Morten went back inside for an espresso. Naturally. Diana was also hungry for something non-gelato based and later got a piadina from a random cafe filled with what I'm assuming is prosciutto, some kind of cheese and some kind of leafy green. Worst description ever! Yeah well, that's what the photo is for.
I didn't need any non-gelato substance. The gelato fulfills all my needs. Allll of them. Yes.
We walked towards the center of the city when I noticed that the empty length of arcades provided a good place for UNDISTURBED JUMPING PHOTOS. OH MY GAWD, YOU CANNOT ESCAPE THE JUMPING.
I jumped. I think this photo makes it look like I jumped higher than I actually did. For the most part, I'm very much stuck to the ground. So heavy, I am. There's also that thing called "gravity."
Morten reluctantly jumped. It's a lovely shot, no? Tongue hanging out and everything.
Diana did not partake in the jumping. Sniffle. Someday she will learn.
We headed towards the Towers of Bologna, which are really freakin' tall because, I suppose, someone wanted to be able to look over the entire city and keep out enemies. And this someone was rich and had tower-building slaves.
Although Asinelli Tower is obviously quite tall when you look up at it from the base, the true height of it doesn't sink in until you walk up the damn thing, expelling a few liters of body fluid in the process, maybe being hit with a jolt of unconsciousness here and there accompanied by the thought that your inexplicably intricate system of organs and other visceral tubes may pathetically perish at the hands of exhaustion brought on by an abundance of steps. Suddenly you wish you had exercised a bit more during your lifetime, or had eaten less atherosclerosis-promoting foods.
Morten and Diana emerged from the top of the tower fresh as daisies as though they did nothing more than walk up a flight of stairs. I, on the other hand, trudged out like a limp, asthmatic daisy that had been stepped on by a sweaty foot.
"Water...water," I croaked. Morten and Diana looked at me with a mixture of worry and pity...or laughter...I don't know, it was all a blur until I was able to properly hydrate myself.
After a few moments, during which I regained partial use of my lungs, I was able to enjoy the beautiful view overlooking Bologna and its many red roofs against a bright blue sky. Yeah, yeah, I guess the walk was worth it.
After more roaming around we went to the train station to pick up Kåre (pronounced something like "Koh-ruh," although you're better off just hearing a Norwegian say it), one of Morten's best friends whom Diana and I also hung out with when we visited Bergen last summer. (I didn't know him very well at first, but over the following weeks I became overly comfortable in his presence, or he became a helluva lot weirder in mine, which may happen if you hang out with me 24/7 for an extended period of time. Whenever I look back at the way my friendships develop I always feel dumb about the initial shyness and insecurities—I think I was even like that the first time I met Morten and I already had "known" him (online) for years. Sigh. It's the way I am. Sorry for that rambling analysis of my personality.) As he had eaten almost nothing (or nothing tasty) during his flight from Bergen and stopover in Amsterdam, his stomach was entering "I'M REALLY FREAKIN' HUNGRY, PLEASE FEED ME" mode. Cue dinner time.
Dinner again was homemade, this time roast chicken with a mozzarella and tomato salad, plush some sauteed radicchio. Although the meal was tasty (Morten was in charge of cooking everything, resulting in chicken that came out soft, juicy and, you know, chickeny), it wasn't as grand as we had hoped for. While Morten prepared the chicken, Diana and I were sent to PAM to pick up some more groceries, only to find out as we walk towards the entrance that its interior was dark and unfilled with humans. Unless the store was having an "Electricity Conservation Day," it was most definitely not open. For some reason that we don't know, Thursday afternoons in Bologna have been designated as a perfectly reasonable time to close up shop and do anything else but work. I suppose it's relaxing for them, but such a rule prevents four hunger non-Bolognans from getting bread (we finished off the previous day's loaf that morning) and desserts. Rawr.
On the way back to the apartment from the failed supermarket run we noticed that the gelato stand just outside the park was still open. (I think gelaterias tend to open all week long, or if they close one day a week its not necessarily Thursday.) Strangely, I was so lacking in hunger at the time that I didn't even crave gelato, even when it was sitting in massive piles right in front of my face. Oh. My. Gawd. It took Diana's insistence for us to pick up half a kilo of gelato&mdashl;half pistachio, half strawberry—for dessert, which I greatly appreciated after the meal. Even the pistachio gelato from a nameless stand on the outskirts of Bologna was better than 99% of the pistachio gelato I had eaten at home. It's not fair, man, just not fair.
The main thing I remember about our conversation during dinner was when Kåre mentioned how his eyelids had once (or maybe more than once) frozen while he was in the army stationed in some god forsaken northern part of Norway. In a forest. Or something. I don't know how we came upon this subject; all I wrote in my notebook was, along with other snippets about the day, "- dinner, Kåre talked about frozen eyelids."
It's important, you see.