Bologna – a Sunday walk and lunch

On Sunday I fancied a bit of excercise to I decided to do the 7.4km round walk up to the Santuario della Beata Virgine di San Luca, a church on a high hill that overlooks Bolgona.

The walk starts at Arco del Meloncello, a Rococo arch in the Saragozza neighbourhood.

You can find these places on my Google map.

The late Baroque overpass allows pedestrians to continue walking under the porticoes without having to cross the busy Via Saragozza.

It’s also a neat solution for a junction where two roads intersect at an awkward angle.

The arch marks the beginning of the Portico di San Luca, a covered arcade built between 1674 and 1793. Built by public subscription, it was intended to protect visiting pilgrims and the procession from the cathedral that each year carries an icon of the Madonna and Child to the sanctuary.

The arcade has 666 arches and stretches for 3,796m, making it the longest portico in the world.

The diabolical number symbolises the Devil in serpent form, because of the arcade’s zig-zag shape and because it recalls the traditional iconography of Satan being defeated and crushed by the Madonna, as represented by the sanctuary at the end.

The best views are actually on the way up as the big lump of a church obscures the view over the city.

However you do get some views of the countryside in the opposite direction.

I didn’t go inside the church as Sunday mass was in full sway when I arrived. Baroque churches aren’t really my thing but I was glad of the exercise, as were the numerous locals for whom this is their regular weekend walk. Many Bolognesi also complete the walk as the fulfillment of a vow, if they pass an exam or get a new job.

Walking down the road on the return journey is much easier and has better views.

For lunch I went to Trattoria Meloncello at 240/A Via Saragozza, just along from the arch. It’s a traditional place that features in the Osteria d’Italia 2019 guide which is usually a good indication. They were fully booked for Sunday lunch so I was glad I’d made a reservation.

I began with a seasonal Tortelloni di Ricotta con Funghi, local cheese-stuffed pasta with porcini mushrooms.

For my main, I fancied trying Roastbeef all’Inglese which is what I usually have for Sunday lunch at home. Of course it was nothing like the English would actually have it, being cold and served with mustard and a slice of lemon. Pomodori Gratinati and and over-pureed Puré di Patate came on the side. I could perhaps have made better choices but the food was fine really.

And the House Sangiovese was quite servicable.

To finish, a caramel pud with a glass of sweet wine, and an espresso with a digestivo.

You’ll find some more suggestions for local walks here.

A stroll around the cathedral square next…

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