A Day in Bologna - Food, Sun, Food

by - Tuesday, August 07, 2018

Bologna, a small student city in the North of Italy is a must-go destination for food lovers and for people, who want to visit an Italian city that is not overly crowded and flooded by tourists. 

The small Piazzas, the multiple lovely churches and Palazzos make a stroll through the city a nice adventure. And if that’s not enough, you can visit a museum, climb up the Asinelli tower to enjoy the view over the city or eat, yes just eat.

Which areas to go:

Bologna is quite a small city, so if you just come here to visit, one to two days are enough. If you want to breathe the Italian vibes and indulge fully in what the cuisine, or better ‘cocina’ here has to offer, you might want to stay a bit longer.

In general, I really liked a walk around the big park close to Porta Castiglione, an evening Spritz in the student area, close to Osteria dell’Orsa and a stroll on Via del Pratello, a street full of restaurants and a bit off from the tourists. What’s also very cute is the Piazza Santa Stefano with a little café just along the façade of the beautiful houses, where I strongly advise you to order a chocolate or vanilla cream filled croissant, along with a Cappuccino and just sit outside and watch the on goings on the square. Of course the main square, Piazza Maggiore is also a must-see.

Church on the way to Porta Castiglione

Where to eat:

Caffè delle Sette Chiese

A cafe, bar and restaurant where you can enjoy your morning cappuccino and a croissant filled with nutella or chantilly cream, an afternoon Spritz and some Italian bites or anything else during the day. A view on the Basilica di Santo Stefano and the square, make this a lovely spot to rest before or after your tour through the city.

Osteria Dell’Orsa

This two-floor rustic restaurant is somehow a canteen for students due to its very affordable prices and simple but delicious food. But not only students lunch and dine here, it’s also older people and of course as the word spreads, some tourists. Order a bottle of red wine from the region, some Tortellini in brodo (in broth) and Tagliatelle al ragu Bolognese, two dishes you cannot miss when being in the city, birthplace of the delicious pasta sauce with minced beef. Try one of their desserts, they’re epic!

Website: Osteria dell'Orsa
Price: Around 7-9E for a pasta dish, 14E for a bottle of wine, 6E for a dessert

Trattoria Gianni

This very local, slightly hidden trattoria is perfect if you want to escape the heat and sun and cool down in a cave-like basement. Extremely nice waiters, a great menu with daily changing offers and great wines are what you can expect here. Try their Pâté made from Mortadella, served with Italian toasted Brioche. Then dig your fork into their Ricottini, similar to Gnocchi but without potatoes and with a lot of Ricotta, served with butter, truffles and Parmesan. I also recommend their Tortelli filled with Ricotta, served with butter and sage. Get some recommendations on their wines, they’re all regional and really fantastic!

Website: Trattoria Gianni
Price: Around 30E for a lunch including drinks, 12-14E for a pasta dish

Other recommended places to eat:

The following places were on my to-do list, recommended by Italians, but unfortunately in one and a half days it's impossible to try 10 different restaurants. But I put them on here anyways.

Where to shop food:

In case you want to do some serious food shopping, you know, show off back home with Mortadella, Parmigiano, Parma ham or any other Italian specialty from the region, then you won’t be disappointed. You’ll find plenty of smaller and bigger shops in the area of Piazza Majore, some more touristy and some less.

Eataly and other small shops in the city center

The streets around Eataly are full of small shops selling Italian produce. Eataly itself is a shop I ironically first encountered in New York, opposite of the Flat Iron building. Back then I was fascinated by the variety, today, a more food-spoiled me doesn’t see Eataly as the most original place to buy food at, but it’s definitely a solid spot to get some pasta, olive oil, sardines or risotto. The Eataly in Bologna is fairly small, but has a good choice.

Website: Eataly

La Bottega

I bumped into this little bottega by chance when walking through the small streets of Bologna on my way to Porta Castiglione. Run by very nice people, you can get pasta, venere rice, sardines in glasses and my favourite Pugliese specialty: taralli. If you’re staying in the city longer, I advise you to buy some of their fresh pasta, and anything marinated, like aubergines or anchovies, it all looked mouth-watering!

Website: La Bottega

Mercato Delle Erbe

Close to Via del Pratello is the daily market (closed on Sundays) selling fresh vegetables, fruit, meat, you know the deal. If you’re in Bologna just for a day, pop in anyways and buy some sweet apricots or a good bunch of figs, which are about twice the size of those you can find in supermarkets in Germany, France or Belgium.

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