Two hours after we started, we reached the Santuario di San Luca, a palatial 18th-century church that offers panoramic views of Bologna and the verdant hills beyond. There was also, blissfully, a restaurant, Vito San Luca, whose tagliatelle al ragù might be the platonic ideal of a post-hike meal. (There was also another plate of mortadella and Parmigiano-Reggiano.) That plus two glasses of local Lambrusco — a sparkling red wine, this region’s answer to Champagne — necessitated a nap upon my return to my hotel. I awoke with just enough time to meet Ms. Montell and her friend, Kaitlyn Mikayla, at Camera a Sud, a Via Valdonica bar rife with books and records that makes a chuggable Americano (not the coffee — the cocktail of Campari, club soda and sweet vermouth).
Local products, local artisans
The light turned golden and then faded. I ventured off to Ahimè (Italian for “alas”), a minimalist restaurant and natural wine bar that opened in July 2020 on Via San Gervasio and which takes an aggressively local approach to cuisine. “There are people who go to the market, buy the cheapest Parmesan and veal, which probably comes from abroad, make ragù and tell you it’s traditional,” said Gian Marco Bucci, one of Ahimè’s owners. “We support producers from here and offer something different.”
A dish of local cabbages and “roasted yogurt” tasted like something you might find in a trendy restaurant in Los Angeles; around me, urbane diners chatted in English. Ms. Montell texted me. Did I want to join her and Ms. Mikayla for a “little concert in an adorable apartment? Very Bologna, intimate, least touristy thing in town.”
I walked 20 minutes to Efesto House, which occupies the sixth floor of a centuries-old apartment building on Via Castiglione. Technically, Efesto House is a private member’s club, but unlike a multinational private member’s club that also has “house” in its name, dues do not cost more than the average monthly mortgage, and membership can be granted on the spot. The cost: 10 euros and your email address.
“We decided to keep our prices very low,” said Gaia Musumeci, a neurologist who runs Efesto House with two friends. “We want people to feel like they’re at home when they come here.” (Matteo Paragona, Efesto’s president, inherited the apartment, as well as the floors above it, from his great-grandmother. Seventeenth-century antiques and works from such artists as Carracci adorn the walls.)