A 30.000 pies por viajeros para viajeros

Bologna, the 'sauciest' Italian

By Belén Parra and Carme Gasull

Characterised and recognised due to its age-old attributes, we suggest approaching Bologna from the perspective of all there is to see (Rossa), to get to know (Dota) and, above all, to taste (Grassa) in this city, which is also the capital of Emilia Romagna, the epicentre of an Italy that is always rich when it comes to gastronomy.

ROSSA (tourist spots to SEE and get to know)

The traveller's eyes bulge at its kilometres of porticos and the range of colours in its buildings. That is exactly why we advise looking around it on foot. Visiting at the weekend has the added value that the whole historic quarter is closed to traffic and it is a pedestrian area for two days.

Bologna is marked out in a way by its 5 gates, which are both an entrance to the historic quarter and also let you get to know the 'other city'. Get away to this green lung made up of its gardens and its hills to see it from a height.

You'll find few squares more beautiful than the Delle Siete Chiese, especially when it is lit up. A stronghold for romantics, bohemians and nostalgics.

Like a good Italian, Bologna is also tremendous. The Due Torri, Santa Maria Maggiore and Neptuno are impressive. But you will also come across neverending avenues, the Galerías Cavour (Via Luigi Carlo Farini, 40) to ‘stay fashionable’ and the historical palazzi or buildings restored for cultural purposes, such as the old Town Hall with its marvellous public library called Salaborsa (Piazza Nettuno, 3) - ideal for trips with children.

DOTA (curiosities, warnings and things worth KNOWING)

They say that Bologna is the oldest city in the oldest country in the world. And the truth is that it has the oldest University in Europe, which not only students from all over Italy want to attend, but also from all over Europe - especially Erasmus students - and ones from further afield. Note: get a place in Law or Fine Arts. In the streets and bars, don't be surprised to hear more than one or two languages at a time. It's not only the tourists but also the people who have chosen to study and live in this city. Because there is lots of Italy beyond Rome, Venice and Florence...

The capital of Emilia Romagna is eminently a city of fairs, and it houses one of the most modern and functional trade fair venues of old Europe, BolognaFiere.

With good connections, the bicycle is the preferred form of local transport, but the bus is the quickest way to move around ‘fuori porte’. But be aware that paying for a ticket on board is a little more expensive than purchasing it in advance at a newsagents. There are a few places where you can learn the art of making homemade pasta but two stand out: the Vecchia Scuola Bolognese (Via Galliera, 11) and La Bottega Due Portici (Via Independenza, 69).

GRASSA (where and what to EAT and drink)

In Italy you can't really eat badly anywhere, but it's a fact that in Bologna you eat especially well. Its title of città del cibo (food) is as right as it is true.

The pasta that identifies this land is the tortellini, and the sauce, ragù. To try some of the best dishes from Bologna, go to the Trattoria AnnaMaria ( Via delle Belle Arti, 17/a), one of the most traditional premises in the city. All the photographs on its walls are evidence of the hundreds of performers and celebrities that have eaten at its tables.

The crescentina or crescenta is the best local bread. Spongy and tasty if it is homemade. And if you accompany it with local mortadela salami and regional parmesan cheese, then you've got a meal. In this regard, a trip through the Salsamenteria Tamburini (Via Caprarie, 1) is a must - a unchangeable classic that has know how to adapt to times and demand. In fact, its wine cellar is the corner that is most in demand and is also the cosiest of the whole establishment.

Very nearby you also have the Osteria del Sole (Vicolo Ranocchi, 1/d) - a unique premises wherever it is. You are only asked to drink here because you can bring your own snacks even from home. Nevertheless, people usually arrive with their piadine, focaccie and cold meats to share them with the whole table. If you don't mind drinking one thing or another, we recommend that you try the homemade beer while you're here. The birra is a must.

For wine tastings, pass by Alla Porta Vini (Via Castiglione, 79/a). Every day, they open a few bottles of wine for tasting. Amongst their preferences, those from the Southern Alps and from small producers.

La Osteria al Cappello Rosso (via dè Fusari, 9/b) is another of those delightful places where you will also want to eat everything you see. Local products used in traditional recipes and served in generous portions. Don't miss its selection of cold meats or its Lambrusco (a source of pride for the region) or its 'torta bolognesa', the typical cake of the city made from rice.

If you feel like an ice cream, don't hesitate to choose La Sorbetteria Castiglione (Via Castiglione, 44) or Il Gelatauro (Via San Vitale 98/b). And if instead you prefer a creamy ice-pop (on a stick), go to the Cremeria Sette Chiese (Via Santo Stefano, 14/a).

The Mercato delle Erbe (Via Hugo Bassi, 25) will charm your senses, above all those of sight and taste. Although there are many shops with good, fresh products. There is also the seafood. See for yourself at the Pescheria del Pavaglione (Via Pescherie Vecchie, 14) where, besides buying, you can taste an original Aperyfish - which doesn't need to be translated.

Also go to Paolo Atti & Figli (Via Caprarie, 7), a shop with traditional gastronomy known for the quality of its breads, cakes and fresh pasta.

Elegant and refined, Zanarini (Piazza Galvani, 1) is the historic café of the city and one of the preferred places for locals to have breakfast, a good cup of coffee and a better cake, and, of course, to see and be seen.

And another very special place, leaving the centre of the city behind: Il Cerfoglio, a restaurant committed to organic produce and km 0 in light, healthy and well made dishes (Via John Fitzgerald Kennedy, 11, San Lazzaro).

We’ll be there. If you want to come too, check out our flights here.

Most popular

Eight things to do with kids in London

Fun is guaranteed when you come to London with the family. Museum…

more info

5 recommendations for day trips close to Barcelona…

Looking for things to do around Barcelona? If you’re planning a v…

more info


Looking for somewhere to go on a long weekend? Have you got a few…

more info