Bologna was a short stop on our two week Italian vacation, but it was a tasty one. Fun fact, it is known as the Fat City for its rich cuisine. Prior to our visit we had done minimal research, mostly by watching old Anthony Bourdain shows and Stanley Tucci’s Searching for Italy so weren’t entirely sure what to expect. But since we love parmesan cheese and balsamic vinegar how bad could it be?
Our train arrived in Bologna late morning after a short train from Venice. After a very short taxi ride from the train station we arrived at our hotel, AC Hotel Bologna. It is definitely a walkable distance, but we had heavy bags with us that we didn’t want to have to carry. We tried checking in but unfortunately, our room wasn’t ready so we left our bags and headed out in search of lunch.
We had heard of Mo Mortadella Lab and wanted to stop by but had head that the wait can sometimes be quite long. Luckily, the lineup as we walked by wasn’t too long. So, we headed that way. No joke, this was a life changing sandwich. Definitely the best sandwich of our lives. Several months later, we still talk about it.
The Food Tour
Late afternoon, we had signed up for a walking food tour. There are plenty of options, we went with Bologna walking tasting tour with Secret Food Tours which was great. The tour was about 4 hours and definitely more eating than walking.
Most of the tour was centred around the market area. The first stop was for espresso and a traditional Italian pastry. We then picked up a platter of italian meets and cheese parm and some buns. We then headed to a wine bar that opened back in 1465 called Osteria del Sole. This bar serves Romagna region wines and customers bring their own food. This is where we devoured the goods that we had picked up. It’s also where we discoved Lambrusco, sparkling red wine from the region that is served chilled.
Next, we headed to another location where we enjoyed some tagliatelle pasta, which originated in the region, with ragù. It was delicious.
Part of the tour included a balsamic vinegar tasting which included 8, 12, and 25 year old balsamic vinegars. It was interesting to see how the taste and consistency evolves over time.
Finally, the last stop of the tour was gelato. Cremeria La Vecchia Stalla has some of the best gelato that we had during our entire two weeks.
After the tour, we decided to find a terrace in the market area to sit and enjoy a spritz. Our final stop for the day was to purchase some balsamic vinegar to have shipped back home.
When I think back to our time in Bologna, one of the first things that comes to mind is the smell when we first entered one of the shops. The smell was a combination of bread, cheese and meat. My mouth is watering just thinking about it.
We had planned to visit Modena and the Enzon Ferrari Museum, and but opted stay in Bologna instead. Since we had some time to fill, we decided to book an e-bike tour for later in the day.
Truth be told, Bologna isn’t the prettiest city, but it’s very rich in history and home to the world’s oldest university, the University of Bologna, founded in 1088. It has been in continuous operations since then.
We spend the morning wandering around. We grabbed coffee and a pastry for breakfast. Headed back in the market area for in search of souvernirs to bring home.
At the end of the tour the previous day, the tour guided had recommended Sfoglia Rina as a great place to have tortellini, that also originated in the region. This restaurant is very popular and the wait for a table can be quite long. The restaurant starts serving around 11:30 am. We just happened to be there around 11:15 am and were at the font of the line. Their menu is mostly pasta and are known for their tortellini.
Not sure what the difference is between tortellini and tortelloni? Tortellini have a meat-based filling, tortelloni are filled with ricotta and sometimes with parsley or spinach.
The food was fantastic. Definitely worth a visit, but go early so you don’t have to wait too long. And, pasta was the perfect way to fuel up for our afternoon bike tour.
The e-Bike Tour
We booked a small bike tour by Slow Emotion that took us for a ride in the hills around the city. Bologna is also know as the Red City and from a distance, it’s easy to see why. Most of its buildings and porticoes are made from terracotta colored bricks.It was our first time on e-bikes
Some of the hills were pretty steep. Happy to be benefit from the assist the e-bike provided. We made a few stops along the way to see some sites of significance and learn a bit more about the history of the region. We stopped at The Sanctuary of the Madonna of San Luca to admire the views and its beauty. Fun fact: the road leading up to the church is often used in professional cycling races.
After that, we headed back to the city centre and we stopped at Osteria del Sole to snack on delicious mortadealla and parm and indulge in some more wine from the region.
From there, we rode back to the shop where we left from.
That evening, we headed to Pizzeria Margherì, just a short walk from the hotel. The restaurant was quite busy and we appeared to be the only tourists there. The food was delicious and quite affordable.
After that, we headed back to the hotel to pack up and get to bed early to be up early the next morning to catch our train to Monterosso.
Finally, if you are planning a trip to Italy the following posts might interest you:
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