This was the reason we chose to visit Bologna (flight price).
That and inspiration from Rick Stein’s gastronomic programme featured on BBC.
Yes that’s him, “Hey Rick!“- and that’s Bologna.
Anyway… Our weekend in Bologna.
To describe Bologna in one word,
Italy through the back door…
Ok, that was 5 words.
What is Bologna like?
Well, there’s a lot of towers.
The two most famous towers of Bologna are Le Due Torri (The Two Towers). The most famous being The Asinelli Tower on Piazza di Porta Ravegnana.
But just look up, you’ll see them.
Bologna has 3 nicknames:
- La Rosa – the red one
- La Grossa – the fat one
- La Dotta – the learned one
Got you intrigued? Particularly “the fat one”?
Here’s a clue –
Bologna sits nicely in the Emilia Romagna region of Italy, surrounded by the best places to eat in the world (clue), Tuscany.
We have never entertained the idea of visiting Venice, or any of the Italian hot spots such as Rome etc.
But don’t get us wrong, these are some of the best places to visit in Italy.
Why A Bologna Break
What is Bologna famous for? I know what you might be thinking.
It’s called Ragu!
Spaghetti Bolognese is not from Bologna.
Top Tip – don’t ask for spaghetti bolognese when you eat at a restaurant in Bologna.
So our first frequentravlr visit to Italy – we’ve always gone Greek.
First thing we noticed was there weren’t many tourists.
Well, just us.
And the ones that were, well they were all Italian tourists.
So we’ve struck gold. Somewhere to visit in Italy, that is actually Italian.
Because who wants to spend money travelling to another version of their home town? Get it?
In Search Of: Restaurants In Bologna
To get the most out of Bologna, be like a dog.
You’ll always have a better adventure if walk of the door, allowing your nose and eyes to guide you. This is the best way to see Italy (or smell).
So we ended up smelling our way into of the street markets…
Minus the man with the broken arm.
Back home in the UK, we eat to fill a gap.
It’s actually a race in our family to see how fast you can eat your meal.
But Bologna, eating is definitely a social thing.
This is the point I thought, “ah, I know we’re British” – You will find families sitting in a busy street, a board of meat and glass of wine at hand. No phones, no fast eating, just good old fashioned family time.
We recommend hanging around the Quadrilatero. This is the medieval area just next to Piazza Maggiore.
The names of the streets are typically Italian. Taking inspiration from artisans and famous producers.
Take a wrong turn and you’ll end up in a back alley with fruit stalls and meat and wine bars.
But our noses took us a little further…
Culinary Capital Of Italy
“Mercato di Mezzo”
A land flowing with wine and pasta…
Well, maybe not pasta this time, fried cheese pastry things, Sebadas I believe they were called. Yes it was nice. The small bite indicates it was hot!
Our recommendation if you visit Bologna and looking for things to do in Bologna…
Follow your nose!
The markets are amongst the best things to do in Bologna.
Wait we jumped too far ahead.
To help you know where to stay in Bologna – we haven’t showed you where or what we stayed in.
Where To Stay In Bologna
Going on from our advice how to find cheap accommodation, we searched the map of the city to decide where to stay.
We found a great place on the edge of the action – PERFECT!
Airbnb of course.
Our host Mack was just great.
He helped us find all of the best things to do in Bologna.
And that’s the beauty of Airbnb, you meet your host and they want to help you and give you the best experience possible.
If you are looking for hotels in Bologna, that’s fine. But our recommendation is this:
You’ve decided on a Bologna city break, it’s not a popular Italian tourist city.
So why not go whole hog and live as the locals do?
Traditional Italian building, entrance to the building.
Now while you’re in Bologna, Italy for that matter, you have to indulge in the coffee.
Just a few yards from our accommodation was a typical, traditional Italian coffee house.
Where is the best place for coffee in Italy?
Would you say Bologna?
The secretary of the Italian Coffee Federation opened up a coffee shop, right in the heart of Bologna –
We wanted to visit but it was closed. (It was a Sunday morning and you know us Brits, get out early and get everything done as fast as possible so we can get back to our homes and watch TV).
It must be good as it was featured on Rick Stein’s Long Weekends.
And Secretary of the Italian Coffee Federation has got to mean something, right?
How To Order A Coffee In Italy
Just ask for espresso doppio. Americano becomes too confusing, as it’s not a traditional italian coffee.
We definitely visited Italy blind.
We didn’t know where to eat or what places to see in Bologna.
So what did we do?
You guessed it – we followed our noses.
The Best Tortellini
Now if you were to get a tattoo, what it do be?
“My love” or a fancy floral design?
How about tortellini?
Yes, the tortellini is so famous in Bologna that local people actually have it engraved on their bodies. Google it!
Thinking back to Rick Stein’s time in Bologna, he wasn’t wrong.
We noticed what Bologna is all about –
Being described by foodie experts as the stomach of Italy.
It’s gastronomic heaven.
And now for the bit you’ve been waiting for… bare bums…
“Ah!” You’re thinking.
Yes, Bologna is full of many historic, naked statues.
These can be found in one of many museums such as Museo Civico Archeologico.
Things To Do In Bologna
1. Follow your nose
2. Visit the main markets
3. Order Tortellini
When is the best time to visit Italy?
Bologna is in the north to mid Italy, so you’ll get a mixture of weathers.
We visited during the middle of October. It was quite pleasant.
The best time to visit Bologna is late September.
To Find The Best Hotels In Bologna
For short breaks to Bologna, try these hotel websites:
But don’t forget to try Airbnb. You’ll get great advice from your host in places to see in Bologna and where to eat out.
How Do You Get To Bologna?
- Plane – Bologna Airport (small)
- Taxi from Bologna Airport to Bologna City
- Cost of taxi €12. Bargain
Our verdict –
If you love good food and real traditional culture…
Visit Bologna, you’ll love it!