On My Bookshelf: Elizabeth Gilbert on Bologna

gelato sorbetteria bologna

I’ve been wanting to re-read Elizabeth Gilbert’s Eat Pray Love for awhile now, seeing as I now live in Italy and practice yoga more regularly then I did when I first read the book probably almost five years ago.  I started re-reading it Sunday night and am eating up every word.  It’s been fun to read about her experiences in Rome, Naples, Venice, and Sicily since I’ve stopped in each of those places over the last couple of years.  I’m envious at how good she is with words and wish I could share such poetic stories with you here.  I was particularly touched by her reflections on the different relationships that Americans and Italians have with pleasure:

Generally speaking, though, Americans have an inability to relax into sheer pleasure.  Ours is an entertainment-seeking nation, but not necessarily a pleasure-seeking one.  Americans spend billions to keep themselves amused with everything from porn to theme parks to wars, but that’s not exactly the same thing as quiet enjoyment.   Americans work harder and longer and more stressful hours than anyone in the world today.  But as Luca Spaghetti pointed out, we seem to like it.  Alarming statistics back this observation up, showing that many Americans feel more happy and fulfilled in their offices than they do in their own homes.  Of course, we all inevitably work too hard, then we get burned out and have to spend the whole weekend in our pajamas, eating cereal straight out of the box and staring at the TV in a mild coma (which is the opposite of working, yes, but not exactly the same thing as pleasure).

But, what I wanted to share with you here is what Elizabeth had to say about Bologna:

I don’t recall now if it was before or after Lucca that I went to Bologna—a city so beautiful that I couldn’t stop singing, the whole time I was there: “My Bologna has a first name!  It’s P-R-E-T-T-Y.”  Traditionally Bologna—-with its lovely brick architecture and famous wealth—has been called “The Red, The Fat and The Beautiful.”  (And, yes, that was an alternate title for this book.)  The food is definitley better here than in Rome, or maybe they just use more butter.  Even the gelato in Bologna is better (and I feel somewhat disloyal saying that, but it’s true).  The mushrooms here are like big thick sexy tongues, and the prosciutto drapes over pizzas like a fine lace veil draping over a fancy lady’s hat.  And of course there is the Bolognese sauce, which laughs disdainfully at any other idea of a ragù.

It occurs to me in Bologna that there is no equivalent in English for the term buon appetito.  This is a pity, and also very telling.

I 100% agree with Gilbert about the gelato.  Luke and I both firmly support that the gelato in Bologna is the best in Italy.  In fact, these days, I am rarely tempted to get gelato in any other city.  If we’re traveling outside Bologna, I’ll usually just take a taste of Luke’s cone which always supports our theory: Bologna’s gelato is the best.


4 thoughts on “On My Bookshelf: Elizabeth Gilbert on Bologna

    1. ciaobologna Post author

      Hey, Teresa! Yes! Glad you agree. I am curious about what makes Bologna’s gelato so different than anywhere else. What’s your favorite gelateria/flavor?

  1. italyproject365

    This is great! I read Eat, Pray, Love so long ago that I didn’t even realize that Elizabeth wrote about Bologna – beautifully said. At the moment I’m in love with Cremeria Santo Stefano’s Salted Pistacchio….


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