When looking for classic Italian specialties of the north, you will end up in Bologna, where you will sink in various flavours. What can you expect in the “red city”?
The capital of the Emilia-Romagna region will charm you from the first sight with tightly arranged buildings made of red brick and stunning details of Romanesque and Gothic architecture. Right after, depending on the time of the day, you will smell of crispy croissants and cappuccinos, sandwiches filled to the brim with the best hams, delicious pasta or excellent wine. Regardless of the hour, it is certain that the flavours of Bologna will delight you as much as the beauty of this city itself.
La Dotta, La Grassa, La Rossa
The adjective “the learned” Bologna refers to the local excellent university – the oldest in Europe and one of the oldest in the world. Dante Alighieri, Umberto Eco, Jan Kochanowski or Nicolaus Copernicus are just some of the students of the Bologna University. The nickname of La Grassa, meaning “the fat one”, is associated with an abundance of delicious and caloric food. The many shops, stalls, trattorias and restaurants in Bologna uphold this name every day, serving the best of northern Italy. The term La Rossa refers to the red colour of buildings everywhere – both bricks and tiles are in this colour.
To whet appetite for Bologna, it is worth mentioning the beautiful old town, numerous museums and monuments, including Bologna’s most famous sculpture, the Fountain of Neptune from the 16th century. When walking through the narrow stone streets, admiring the charms of the city and sightseeing, you will certainly crave for something tasty more than once, and then the only difficulty will be deciding what to choose.
It is worth starting your morning in a typical Italian style – with cappuccino and crispy croissants – cornetto (it is said that the best can be found in Pappare’ at Via de’ Giudei 2). To try local delicacies or do some shopping, be sure to go to Mercato delle Erbe or Mercato di Mezzo on Via Clavature. You can find there both restaurants and bars, as well as places where you can buy snacks or unique souvenirs. Bologna marketplaces are filled with street booths, deli, food and wine stores. Be sure to try the delicious sandwiches from Mortadella di Bologna, and certainly stock up on them in the deli on the last day of the holiday. Only slightly less popular, and equally delicious, is the maturing pork neck – Coppa di Parma. In the city, you can also buy an excellent Prosciutto di Parma ham and long-maturing Parmigiano Reggiano cheese. You have to try the famous Bolognese pasta, tagliatelle al ragù, at least once, or eat the famous Italian casserole – lasagne alla bolognese, small tortellini and ravioli dumplings. In addition to lunch, it is worth ordering red wine Lambrusco or white Pignoletto. Be sure to stop for a fantastic gelato – traditional Italian ice cream. Bologna is considered Italy’s artisan ice-cream capital, and the quantity and quality of its ice cream parlours are second to none. You can buy it in such places as Cremeria San Francesco (piazza San Francesco, 1/b), Cremeria Mascarella (Via Mascarella, 30) and Galliera 49 (Via Galliera, 49/B). Zuppa inglese dessert, consisting of layers of biscuits and cream, or pinza bolognese – shortcrust pastry with traditional dark jam made of various fruits, will also be a great choice.
FICO World Eataly
When visiting Bologna, it is really worth sparing a minimum of a few hours to visit this largest agro-gastronomic park in the world. Its area is so vast that at the entrance you will get a map and be able to rent a three-wheeled bike (no fee). The three-wheeler is a recommended option to move around the park due to the vast area it covers. You can find there stands of production and agricultural plants, barns, crops, greenhouses, vineyards, shops, kiosks, bakeries, as well as a dozen restaurants and even more bars. 2,000 plants are cultivated in the park: wheat, herbs, vegetables and fruits; there are vineyards, orchards and olive groves. Crops, stables and barns cover a total of 2 hectares, with over 200 farm animals! During the visit, it is worth getting acquainted with the secrets and history of traditional food production (including meat products, cheese, pasta, candy and chocolate). You can also take part in paid culinary courses, for both beginners and advanced chefs. The selection of trainings is very rich (food production, secrets of cooking and confectionery). At numerous stands, in kiosks and shops, you can buy excellent edible souvenirs, and in numerous restaurants, bars and bakeries, you can try traditional dishes, such as ravioli, tagliatelle, pizza and focaccia, or long-maturing hams and cheeses. One thing is certain – no one leaves Bologna hungry.