Bologna is often overlooked as a city to visit in Italy compared to its famous Rome, Florence and Venice neighbors. However, Bologna is not to be ignored and is especially attractive for the foodies out there. In my previous job, I had the opportunity to basically commute between Bologna and New York for a six-month period, getting to know this under-the-radar city.
Bologna is in the northern part of Italy with approximately 380,000 people with a large student population thanks to one of the oldest universities in the world. The students create a lively atmosphere that often fills the streets. Bologna is considered the culinary capital of Italy and is home to favorites including prosciutto and mortadella, parmesan cheese, tagliatelle bolognese and balsamic vinegar. Its architecture is beautiful with orange and red terra cotta roofs, giving it the nickname Bologna la rossa (Bologna the red).
There is no shortage of things to do in Bologna, and I spent many days walking through the town soaking up the culture.
The main square in the city, Piazza Maggiore is always bustling. Walking up the main street, Via dell’Indipendenza, you will run into the statue of Neptune, a symbol of Bologna. Within the square is the Basilica of San Petronio and City Hall buildings. In warmer months, grab a coffee or a drink and sit in the square, watching the students and people pass by. Just off the main square is Mercato di Mezzo, the oldest market which is open every day except Sunday.
Basilica of San Petronio
An odd looking church with a pink and cream bottom and a brick top, the original building plans were to have this be the largest church in the world.
Torri degli Asinelli e Garisenda
The symbols of Bologna, you can climb the 498 steps in Asinelli for some great views.
As the culinary capital, there are multiple food tours that offer a fantastic tasting experience. I would recommend Taste Bologna as it is run by a passionate local. In September of this year, Eataly is open a mega market that I would love to check out.
Eats & Drinks
The most famous restaurant, Diana as some of the most authentic Bolognese food coupled with exceptional service. Tortellini in Brodo and Tagliatelle with Ragu are a can’t miss. This restaurant happens to be a favorite with Mario Batali.
Trattoria Anna Maria
Anna Maria is a staple in Bologna and all of her pasta is made fresh daily.
With thin crust pizza, its easy to make Nicola’s personal pies!
A lively bar, Le Stanze has one of the best aperitivio options in town.
Close to Piazza Maggiore, Olindo Faccioli is an old fashioned watering hole.
I Portici became my second home during my many stays in Bologna. With a modern aesthetic and large rooms, the hotel has a great restaurant and exceptional service.
Have you ever been to Bologna? What was your favorite part? Did I miss anything?
I’d love to hear from you!
xx Jet Set Steph