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Bologna: A Foodies Dream Italian Getaway
Curated by Rachael Levine
Guest curated by Rachael Levine, @trippingmillennial
The elevator pitch: Bologna is THE ultimate destination for foodies. It is the largest city in the Emilia Romagna region, which is where delicacies like tagliatelle al ragu (bolognese), mortadella, parmigiano reggiano, tortellini, balsamic vinegar, and more originate. Beyond food, Bologna is also Europe’s oldest university town, and the student life adds to the rich and vibrant culture of the city. Perhaps the best part of Bologna is that it is still relatively undiscovered by tourists, especially when comparing it to nearby cities like Florence and Venice. In short: Bologna deserves a spot on your next Italy itinerary!
When to go: Though it is suitable to visit any time of year, late spring or early fall is best as you avoid the peak heat of summer while also avoiding the wettest months.
Where To Stay: Finding hotels closest to Piazza Maggiore (city center) is ideal, though anywhere in the Old Town is good. The Art Hotel Orologio is particularly well situated and is a relatively affordable option. A few other options are Hotel Metropolitan, Hotel Corona d’Oro and Hotel Touring.
How to get around: Bologna is a compact city, and you can walk just about anywhere you need to go. You can also download the “RideMovi” app to easily rent city bikes throughout the town, and there is convenient bus transportation as well.
Odds and ends: Bologna is the gastronomic capital of Italy! Be ready to feast with your eyes and bellies!
TRIP OVERVIEW: A Foodies Dream Getaway
What this is: an Italian adventure filled with the most delicious food
What this isn’t: a trip in the middle of a boiling hot Tuscan summer
Day 1: Hit the specialty spots!
Day 2: Epic Full Day Food Tour
Begin a fully day food tour with Italian Days Food Experience
Get picked up around 7 AM
Explore the Parmigiano Reggiano factory & feast on a full Italian Breakfast
Tour Acetaia Cavedoni
Visit a proscuitto factory
End the day with a four course meal & plenty of wine!
Head to La Taverna di Roberto after the tour if you want a night nosh!
Day 3: More of delicious Bologna!
Grab coffee at Incucina & head to Via Pescherie Vecchie
Shopping on the picturesque Via Clavature
Grab lunch to go at Mo Mortadella, or at Mercato di Mezzo
Head to the famous Osteria del Sole to eat!
Grab an aperitivo at Pastis
Dinner at Zapap Pratello
THE DETAILED GUIDE
Day 1: Hit the specialty spots!
Aroma Specialty Coffee
Simple and homey. Start your day with breakfast at Aroma Specialty Coffee. This homey spot serves the best cappuccino in town. Start with one and a pistachio- or chocolate-filled cornetto pastry while sitting underneath one of the city’s famous porticoes.
Walk around the main square!
Architectural and cultural. Walk to Piazza Maggiore, the city’s main square, to do some sightseeing. You will find historical architecture, a famous fountain (Fontana del Nettuno), and the unfinished Cattedrale Metropolitana di San Pietro. This is a great spot for people watching and a good starting point to explore the rest of the town.
Lively and authentic. Have lunch al fresco at Tamburini, which is situated on one of the liveliest streets in Bologna. Be sure to order some meats like mortadella and prosciutto with your meal.
Midieval and charming. Spend the afternoon exploring the beautiful porticoes around the town, stopping at the Due Torre (Two Towers), which are the most famous of the remaining medieval towers in the city.
Piazza Santo Stefano
Apertivo in Bologna
Spirited and casual. Before dinner, enjoy a spritz for aperitivo in my favorite piazza, Piazza Santo Stefano.
Ristorante Da Cesari
Warm and traditional. Head to dinner at Ristorante Da Cesari (try to make a reservation in advance, and remember that dinner typically starts around 9pm in Bologna). Here, you must order what I consider to be the “Bologna trifecta”: mortadella, tortellini in brodo, and tagliatelle al ragu. And of course, you should pair it with local wine like pignoletto, lambrusco, or sangiovese.
Cremeria la Vecchia Stalla
Local and delicious. End the night with my favorite gelato in all of Italy from Cremeria la Vecchia Stalla. My go-to flavors are pistachio and hazelnut.
Day 2: Italian Days Food Experience
Parmigiano Reggiano factory
Food tour near Bologna!
Delicious & decadent. From your hotel you will be driven about 45 minutes to a Parmigiano Reggiano factory outside of Modena, where you will see exactly how this famous cheese is made and aged. Next, you will have a full scale Italian “breakfast,” complete with parmigiano, pastries, meats, and plenty of wine and espresso.
Balsamic vinegar tasting!
Rich and unique. You will tour Acetaia Cavedoni, which has been making balsamic vinegar in their family tradition for over 100 years (and later, taste it as well!).
Procuitto tasting in Bologna!
Educational and fun. Then, you will visit a Proscuitto factory, learning about the detailed process of curing and aging the meat. You’ll finish the tour with an epic 4-course meal, served with plenty of wine.
La Taverna di Roberto
Welcoming and cozy. If you’re still hungry for dinner after all the eating during the tour, head La Taverna di Roberto for some of my favorite tagliatelle al ragu in town.
Day 3: More of delicious Bologna!
Via Pescherie Vecchie
Market in Bologna
Pleasant and sensory. Start your morning with coffee at another local cafe (like Incucina) before heading to Via Pescherie Vecchie, which has an open air market where you will find plenty of nonnas doing their daily shopping. Also be sure to visit delis/food stores like Gilberto and Salumeria Simoni, where you can also find some great foodie souvenirs to take home!
Time to shop!
Stroll and relax. Do some shopping on the picturesque Via Clavature, where you will find plenty of boutiques and shops.
Mo Mortadella & Osteria del Sole
Unique and historic. Pick up a simple takeaway lunch at a deli back on Via Pescherie Vecchie, at Mo Mortadella or at Mercato di Mezzo. Then head to the famous Osteria del Sole, a bring-your-own-food bar serving local wines that has been around since 1465. Be warned - it can get quite busy around the lunch hour so best to grab a table as soon as you see it!
Finestrella di Via Piella
An afternoon walk!
Lovely and surprising. Walk off your lunch by visiting Finestrella, a somewhat hidden window viewpoint of one of the remaining canal systems in Bologna.
Entertain and unwind. As the day winds down, grab aperitivo at Pastis, just outside of Mercato delle Erbe. This place gets very busy, so try to grab a table around 7pm!
Vibrant and colorful. End your trip by walking down one of my favorite streets, Via Pietralata, to the lively street Via del Pratello. There are a lot of great eateries here, but I recommend Zapap Pratello for fantastic pizza and beer.
What didn’t make the list?
A few additions!
Go food shopping in the Quadrilatero!
Stop by Mercato Delle Erbe!
Climb Asinelli tower!
If you love Bologna, you’ll also love
Florence. Jaunt coming soon!
Nearby places to visit
Milan. A quick train ride away. Jaunt coming soon!