What to do in Bologna


Bologna food experience, travel tips from an insider


Bologna is the true Italian "foodie" capital, renowned worldwide for its cuisine.

Without Venice’s gondolas, Rome’s ruins and Florence’s acres of galleries, Bologna has stayed off Italy’s well-beaten tourist track. Even the city’s own Leaning Tower has never drawn the hordes that flock to Pisa. But the capital of the Emilia-Romagna region, which many claim is Italy’s gastronomic capital, makes the perfect weekend destination.

No small wonder Bologna has earned so many historical monikers. La Grassa (the fat one) celebrates a rich food legacy (ragù or bolognese sauce was first concocted here). La Dotta (the learned one) doffs a cap to the city university founded in 1088.La Rossa (the red one) alludes to the ubiquity of the terracotta medieval buildings adorned with miles of porticoes, as well as the city's longstanding penchant for left-wing politics.


All three names still ring true. Bologna is the kind of city where you can be discussing Marx with a leftie newspaper-seller one minute, and be eating like an erstwhile Italian king in a fine restaurant the next. Scrappy, scruffy Bologna could easily coast on its history, if not just on its culinary history. Home to one of the world’s oldest universities, this northern Italian city has contributed dozens of classic recipes and foods to the repertory of Italian cooking, including tortellini, tagliatelle and mortadella — the cold cut whose imitation is known as “Bologna” — as well as ragù Bolognese. As the capital of the region of Emilia-Romagna, Bologna is one of the best places to sample the cheeses, cured hams and vinegars that originate in the area, many of which have been famous for centuries. But modern Bologna is not just about the past. Dozens of cool new attractions have changed the face of the city, from new ways of eating to new museums and new bars.

Bologna is the hometown of mortadella, ragù and the kingdom of fresh, handmade pasta!

Of course...traditional tortellini are homemade. That's the reason why we have asked Antonio, a Bolognese chef, to host a special pasta-making session at home. Learning how to create fresh tortellini is the best way to experience Bologna like a local.

Before the session you will enjoy a delightful walk under the city centre porticoes and through the narrow cobblestone streets of the old food market. You will stroll from Piazza Maggiore, real soul of the city, to Porta Galliera, the medieval gate, exploring many hidden places that reveal the history of the city from the past to the present, such as the canal secret window.

You will then stop at Antonio’s home to enjoy the family tradition of tortellini making. What’s better than some talking around the table about the Bolognese culinary secrets after a pleasant walking?


Getting there

British Airways ( flies direct to Bologna from London Heathrow, easyJet ( from London Gatwick. Other low cost airlines offer direct flies to Bologna Airport from the principal european hub. For a longer Italian holiday, the train ( is a good option. Bologna is approximately an hour and a half from Venice, 40 minutes from Florence and two hours from Rome by train.


Where to stay

For those who really want to live Bologna like a local, we suggest “La casa di Barbara” ( , a fascinating apartment in the hearth of Bologna.


Where To eat

We suggest Osteria al 15 (Via Mirasole, 13, 40124 Bologna) or "Pasta", new restaurant in the city centre.


You can’t leave Bologna without having tasted its famous artesanal ice cream. If you want to taste the best gelato in town you must stop by the famous gelateria Castiglione (


Happy hour

If you want to experience a real Italian “aperitivo” (Happy Hour) we suggest you these places, located in the University district: Camera a Sud ( and Il Calice