Home to the world’s oldest university and famous for its Tortellini, the city of Bologna, Italy has a great deal to offer travellers looking for an Italian experience off the well-travelled path of Venice, Florence, or Rome. But after spending a week in the vibrant city, it is safe to say, that Bologna is “the” city for food lovers.
With a nickname like La Grassa, meaning the Fat One, it’s no wonder I left the city a few pounds heavier and in awe of the culinary experience that is Bologna.
From Tortellini to Mortadella, Tagliatelle, Ragu and more, Bologna continues to hit you with a sensory explosion of divine and delicious dishes at every turn. Often overlooked by tourists in Italy, Bologna is definitely the city to hit if you are looking to experience real, authentic, Italian food.
If you are planning a trip to Italy, make sure you pencil Bologna in for one day and indulge at these three restaurants… and check out some of the sights while you’re at it.
First, grab your morning cappuccino at Zanarini Cafe.
No need to sit down, do as the locals do and head to the bar to order. Grab a morning cafe (espresso) or a cappuccino and make sure you eat breakfast too, which is a pastry of your liking.
Zanarini is right in the centre of things, more specifically right next to the high end shops of Hermes, Gucci, Louis Vuitton and more. Since you’re already in the area, might as well do a little window shopping.
Next, head to lunch. The restaurant, Ristorante Panoramica, is about a fifteen minute walk from the centre of Bologna’s Piazza Maggiore, and worth every step. The restaurant offers a beautiful garden terrace to enjoy lunch on and uses only the highest-grade organic products. The restaurants specializes in seafood and is constantly changing their menu to keep up with what’s in season. I indulged in a Seafood Gratin and shared in the Seabass Carpaccio; both were otherworldy. The prices are definitely not for those who are looking for a “budget-friendly” option, but if you are only in the city for one day, why not splurge and see what all the food-fuss is about in Bologna.
After lunch, stroll slowly (you’ll be full) back to the centre and check out some of Bologna’s Must See’s as you countdown the minutes until your next meal.
If you are feeling ambitious climb to the top of Torre Asinelli. This ever-so-slightly leaning tower was built at the end of the 11th century and offers stunning views of the city if you are bold enough to make it to the top. Entry is €3.
If you are looking for more leisurely after lunch activity, check out Bologna’s two famous churches. The Basilica of San Pietro is situated in the heart of the city in Piazza Maggiore and is hard to miss. It is the fifth largest Cathedral in the world and the last Gothic church constructed in Italy. After you view the mega-church, head over to the Basilica of Santo Stefano, formerly composed of seven churches, some dating back to the 5th century. The church is unique, complex, and will leave a lasting impression as you wander through the various corridors.
After you’ve done a little sightseeing, it’s time for dinner!
Head over to Ristorante Donatello and take in the atmosphere of this family run restaurant that has been in Bologna since 1903. The restaurant is full of character and usually packed. The menu features a wide range of Bolognese traditional dishes, such as Tortellini in broth and Tagliatelle Bolognese. You truly cannot go wrong.
After you are thoroughly stuffed from your one epic day in Bologna, and heading back to your temporary home, make sure you grab a scoop of Gelato from a local shop because… why not? You’re in Bologna. This city boasts some of the best Gelato in the world.