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Thursday, March 3, 2011

Bologna, Italy

Participants in the upcoming Europe Lean Tour can look forward to visiting one of Italy’s gastronomic capitals, this spring.  Situated in the Emilia Romagna region, the city of Bologna, is often overlooked  in favor of Rome or Venice.  However a visit to this city of 400,000 is well worthwhile and one is unlikely to encounter the crowds, common in other larger Italian cities.

Sometimes referred to as la rossa because of its many red buildings, the area’s  markets, palazzo (palaces) and long porticoes are readily explored on foot.  Bologna also has the distinction of having the world’s oldest university which can trace its beginnings to 1088.  Interestingly, the city is sometimes referred to as “Red” because it was the first Italian city to elect a communist town council.  Not surprisingly, political views and opinions have always been important in this charming Italian city.

Outsiders sometimes struggle to define Bologna  but this is the region where pasta making is considered a work of art with tortellini, tagliatelle and lasagna to whet your appetite.  What other metropolis would draft a law to protect its handmade pasta from industrial imitations?  Be aware that you may stand corrected if you refer to certain plates of pasta with meat sauce as spaghetti Bolognese.  To the people of Bologna it is tagliatelle alla ragu.  The slow simmered hearty, ragu sauce pairs wonderfully with freshly made tagliatelle pasta.  Other gastronomic pleasures include parmiggiana reggiano, the undisputed king of cheeses, balsamic vinegar which has been made in Modena for centuries and air-cured prociutto  di Parma.  

Thanks to a thriving silk industry, in the Middle Ages, Bologna was one of the wealthiest cities in Europe.  As a show of their affluence, wealthy families built over 200 tall towers.  By the 14th Century many of them  were gone.  Twenty remain today.   The thriving silk industry has also disappeared, replaced by Ferrari, Lamborghini and Ducati, all of which are close by.

LSI’s Europe Lean Tour participants will spend a couple of days in Bologna – enough time to visit the Ducati and Lamborghini plants, enjoy a hearty meal of tagliatelle al ragu and a glass of the regoin’s well-known Lambrusco wine.    Ahhh . . . . la dolce vita!

Please note that if you are interested in joining us as part of the once-in-a-life Europe Lean Tour, there is only one spot left for the May event - please contact our office at 604-264-1000 for further questions.

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