I planned to write a ‘Things to do in Bologna’ kind of post but then I realised that all I did there was eat. So all I can share with you is what I ate in Bologna.
Bologna is a student city known for its leftist leanings and good food. I was not surprised at all when I found myself extending my stay here day after day.
After some hectic days of sight-seeing in Florence and a nasty cold in Cinque Terre, I was ready to have a break from constantly moving around and packing my days full of touristing.
Most of my days in Bologna were spent pottering around my hostel, writing blog posts in relaxed cafes and strolling through the beautifully preserved streets of the old town. And, of course, trying the local dishes at traditional restaurants.
I hadn’t done much research beforehand, and I didn’t know of any famous monuments of sights, so I didn’t feel pressured to see everything there. I didn’t have any preconceived expectations that had to be fulfilled.
While still tourist-friendly it didn’t have the tourist crowds (or prices) of nearby Florence or Venice, so it felt more like the ‘real Italy’ of normal Italians, going about their daily lives.
Its student population means it’s inhabitants are quite progressive and intellectual. Scruffy but friendly people who like to hang out in bars and discuss the meaning of life.
Lunches and Dinners
Although this place breaks the rule of not eating at paces close tourist attractions (it’s named after the two towers nearby), you will not be disappointed at the quality or prices here. At 2 euros per massive slice, this small Pizzeria is always full of both locals and foreigners for very good reason.
This spick and span, homely restaurant serves traditional Bolognese food. Come between 7-8pm for happy hour, where they have combo deals of dinner for 10 euros. I had a delicious eggplant parmigiana with a glass of local wine and a cheeky panna cotta for dessert. The dessert was extra so my feast here came to a grand total of 14 euros.
A busy, traditional Bolognese eatery I went with their special menu of the day with tagiatelle for prima and a chicken/spinach/potato option for secondo. At my shared table, I met a group of Itallian truckies who translated the menu for me and gave me some recommendations. Over dinner and a few too many glasses of wine they told me all about their lives and their home town. I love making unexpected friends! An evening here set me back only 17 euros.
This humble shop is one of the best places to eat in Bologna. I feel like the lady who works here is my adopted Italian grandmother, they’re so friendly and were very understanding of my lack of Italian language skills. The pasta is freshly homemade daily. It’s more of a takeaway shop than a restaurant, as it was only a street away from my hostel, it was perfect for a quick, cheap dinner on the way home. I paid only 8 euros for a generous portion.
Bars and Cafes
The sandwiches here aren’t that great but the coffee is good. It’s centrally located and has a nice atmosphere. If you need a coffee and wifi stop it’s perfect.
This bookstore/bar is full of character and charm. It fills up with students in the evening and I loved the colourful part of town its located in.
This was my favourite place Bologna. It’s not a cafe, but it does have a coffeeshop inside so I’m including it. It’s a public library in a gorgeous old building in the main square. You can find Roman ruins downstairs. All sorts of events from basketball games to conferences to exhibitions take place here. It’s a cultural hub not to be missed.
You may be thinking, why is there no Spaghetti Bolognese on this list?
You mat be surprised that it’s an absolute no-no to order Spaghetti Bolognese in Bologna. The beloved staple dish of many misinformed foreigners is apparently not authentic Italian cuisine, but an imitation and adaptation of the real thing. Instead, order tagiatelle ragu – long, wide pasta with a minced beef sauce that’s not as tomatoey as bolognese (but every bit as delicious.)
Where I stayed: Il Nosadillo This is one of my favourite hostels I’ve stayed at. It’s comfortable, the people were very nice and the location is good. It’s easy to find from the bus and train station and close to the centre. The owner is such a sweet, kind lady and she will give you some very helpful recommendations, drawing all over your free map of the city.
What I’m reading: The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho
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