After five magical days in Florence, we arrived in Bologna. I didn’t know exactly what to expect but I knew we needed to come here for a specific culinary mission. Italian food has always been my favorite, especially bolognese and so where better to eat bolognese than Bologna, it’s birthplace? We set off to explore the city, without having done much research, and were pleasantly surprised by the city’s beauty, as well as it’s lack of tourists. After three days of wandering the charming cobblestone streets and talking to our local expert and host, Massimo, we fell in love with the city (and so did our stomaches!).
If you are planning a trip to Italy, I highly recommend visiting Bologna and while you’re there, don’t miss:
- The bolognese! Or rather, the ragu. Although spaghetti bolognese is one of the most famous Italian dishes in America, you won’t see this on any Italian menus. Instead, you will see tagliatelle alla ragu. Ragu originated in Bologna, however, each region puts its own spin on the dish (all the reason to try it throughout Italy!). And since spaghetti originated in southern Italy, the northern Italians use a different type of noodle: tagliatelle. Our favorite spots for ragu were Osteria dell’Orsa, Osteria del Cappello and Trattoria Anna Maria.
- Take a stroll through the city’s porticos. With almost 40 kilometers of porticos, they are hard to miss! The amount of porticos in the city make it unique in the world. Large archways are also perfect for protection from winter days, rain and the summer sun.
- Tortellini in brodo (tortellini in broth) is another famous dish from Bologna. We loved the one at La Bottega dei Portici.
- Much like the porticos, you won’t be able to miss the city’s towers. Centuries ago, it was popular for wealthy families to build their own tower and there were about 180 towers throughout the city. Now, there are just a few remaining with two right in the center of the city known as ‘The Two Towers.’ You can climb to the top for an amazing view of the city.
- For the ultimate mercato experience, visit Mercato di Mezzo with endless options of pasta, pizza, wine, sandwiches and gelato.
- And on the subject of gelato, I found my favorite gelato in all of Italy (and we tasted our fair share of gelato) which was at Cremeria Funivia.
- Venice isn’t the only city with canals! Spend the afternoon trying to find Bologna’s hidden canals. The city’s waterways were covered up in the 1950s but can still be seen from some streets such as Via Piella.
- And finally, for one of the best aperitivo spots in town, check out Le Stanze with beautiful high-vaulted ceilings decorated in frescoes.