In publishing there are four major trade shows for the bulk of American publishers. These include the Frankfurt Book Fair, the London Book Fair, Book Expo America and the Bologna Children’s Book Fair. It is the latter which is renowned for being a fantastic experience. A lot of that positive experience comes down to the locale and its amazing food and medieval character. This past week I attended my first Bologna and was lucky enough to take along a notable photographer and fellow reveller.
The schedule was for Jim and I to head out last Friday. We would have the weekend for travel, recovery and play. Sunday night the week kicked off with the annual Random House Cocktail Party. My colleague and co-conspirator, Wayne, would join us Sunday night for the first of many dinners. Monday morning the fair began. We had a packed schedule with appointments running through the day from 9 to 5 most of the three days we would be there.
Bologna is a smallish city with many very old buildings, cobblestone streets. Landing at the airport it was easy to see that Spring was more advanced there than at home. The grass and trees were greening. The air was still quite chilly and the weather would prove to be uniformly grey and rainy throughout the week. Walking the streets of Bologna in the rain, the cobblestones gleamed with moisture and the streetlights and store signs glittered in the wet air. It made for an even more romantic picture of this very old city. The rain was never a downpour so it was perfectly easy to walk around and see the sights. Umbrellas were necessary equipment and because the city was so small, the best way to get anywhere was to walk. All that walking was just as well as the food was unbelievable and it would have been criminal to abstain from the Primi Piatti–and I promise you neither Jim nor I abstained.
Saturday we were pretty wiped. The flight overnight was fairly comfortable but that first day is always rough. We had a three hour layover in Paris.
An amazing view through the window as we flew over the Pyrenees.
Armed with restaurant recommendations from an experienced colleague, the eating festival began Saturday night with dinner in a unabashedly charming and fabulous restaurant called Da Cesari.
Stepping into the restaurant from the dark and rainy streets was both a little intimidating and a transformative experience. At this point in the week we had not yet put our feedbags on and we did not try to pace the couples on either side of us. They were both working their way through the five-course meal with paired wines like indomitable pros. We limped through the appetizer and primi piatti and felt that was the worst we could do. It was all delicious and we shared tastes and took our time. The local Sangiovese wine was amazing.