12 Reasons Why Is Bologna Worth Visiting (Food & Travel Guide)

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Bologna is the historic capital city of the Emilia Romagna region in northern Italy. 

The city has a number of UNESCO World Heritage Sites and is also renowned as the gastronomic capital of Italy.

Is Bologna worth visiting? Yes – the city has something for everyone. 

It’s less touristy than many other Italian cities but offers just as much history and culture. 

What’s more, fans of Italian food will be able to savor Bologna’s rich culinary heritage with famous foods like Mortadella, Tagliatelle al Ragù, Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, and much more.  

Exploring the local culinary specialties in Bologna was one of our favorite highlights in Italy.

If you are asking yourself “is Bologna worth visiting,” discover what the city has to offer.

Let our detailed Bologna food travel guide inspire you. Here are 12 reasons why Bologna is worth visiting.

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What is Bologna Known For?

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Authentic Mortadella from Bologna “La Grassa”

Bologna Italy is known by three nicknames of “La Dotta”, “La Grassa”, and “La Rossa”. 

In English, this translates to “The Learned,” “The Fat,” and “The Red.” 

These nicknames pay homage to the city’s unique character and heritage. 

“La Dotta” acknowledges the university, which is the oldest in the Western world.

Meanwhile, “La Rossa” refers to the red brick buildings that comprise the historic city center, which dates back to the Middle Ages. 

“La Grassa,” “The Fat” the Bologna of good food and excellent cooking refers to the city’s rich culinary heritage. 

Bologna is renowned for its spectacular food and is even referred to as Italy’s gastronomic capital.

If you’re a fan of Italian food and love exploring culture and historic sites, you’ll find Bologna Italy worth visiting.

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12 Top Things to Do in Bologna

1. Explore Bologna on a Walking Tour

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Uncover Bologna’s charm by exploring the city on foot

The first thing to do in Bologna and something we always do on our culinary travels is to get oriented around the city.

We recommend taking a guided walking tour to learn all about the city’s cultural attractions, historical highlights, and delicious Bologna food specialties.

On this Bologna City Walking Tour, you’ll spend about 2 hours getting to know the city with a local guide. 

You’ll learn about the city’s two towers, which define the Bologna skyline and are emblematic of Bologna’s charisma and history. 

In the Quadrilatero ancient market, you’ll be introduced to Bologna “La Grassa” and some of the local specialties.

Another tour highlight includes a visit to the Piazza Santo Stefano. Located in the city’s historic center, the square is dominated by the Basilica Santo Stefano and bordered by porticoes leading to aristocratic palaces.

Your guide will also talk about Bologna University, dating from 1088, which educated the likes of Dante, Bocaccio, and Petrarch. 

On your Bologna things to do itinerary, this guided city walking tour provides a wonderful introduction to the city’s culture and heritage.

2. Take a Taste of Bologna Food Tour 

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Taking a food tour is one of the best things to do in Bologna

As Italy’s gastronomic capital, one of the top reasons to visit Bologna is to enjoy the world-renowned delicious food. In fact, the food is the main reason we visited Bologna.

Book a Bologna food tour to savor the city’s culinary highlights. We took two different Bologna food tours which helped us understand the local food and culinary culture.

Both tours offered a variety of tastings as well as a local market visit. If you are short on time, this Taste Bologna Food Walking Tour offers three tastings with small bites over 2.5 hours.

However, if you want to dive deeper into Bologna food in the gastronomic capital of Italy, this Tastes and Traditions of Bologna with Market Visit food tour is the one to take.

We thoroughly enjoyed the 3.5 hours we spent with a culinary food tour guide, stopping at 8 local eateries for about 9 food tastings.

The day kicked off with a traditional Bolognese breakfast. At a nearby local market, we sampled while learning about Bologna cheeses, Parma ham, delicious bowls of fresh pasta, and more.

One of the highlights is a stop for a traditional bolognese sauce with homemade tagliatelle pasta.

A much-loved traditional Bolognese sweet ends the tour along with an ensuing food coma from all the food you’ll eat.

To taste Bologna deeply and authentically, you want to book this Bologna food tour.

3. Visit Bologna’s Iconic Towers 

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A stunning view awaits from the top of the tower

One of the most defining characteristics of Bologna’s architecture are iconic towers which are part of the city’s history and skyline.

Two towers, Asinelli Tower and Garisenda Tower located next to each other, are two of Bologna’s most recognized landmarks.

Built during the Middle Ages, the Asinelli Tower and Garisenda Towers served military functions for many years as key defensive locations. 

They also were symbols of the wealth of the families that built them. At the time, Bologna had about 180 towers, and today, only about 22 or so of these towers remain standing. 

Wear comfortable shoes if you plan to visit the Asinelli Tower and climb the 498 internal steps. The staircase is both steep and narrow. 

From the top, you’ll be rewarded with glorious views across the city, which you can admire from a height of 97.02 meters (around 318 feet).

The Garisenda Tower remains closed to the public due to unstable foundations.

At Piazza Maggiore, Bologna’s main square, you visit the city’s Clock Tower, the Torre dell’Orologio.  

We found the views of Bologna’s historic centre from the clocktower to be truly breathtaking.

AUTHENTIC FOOD QUEST TIP: Visits to Asinelli Tower are open to the public, but it is advisable to book in advance. For an audio-guided tour followed by a tasting of typical products, you can book your Asinelli Tower and tasting tour. Alternatively, if you want to buy the Asinelli Tower entry ticket separately simply visit the Bologna Welcome website or stop by their offices at Piazza Maggiore.

4. Savor Aperitivo in Bologna 

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Take a flavorful journey through Bologna’s culinary heritage

Aperitivo is an Italian tradition. And, in Bologna, it’s deeply woven into the culinary culture.

In Italy, an Aperitivo is designed to open the stomach and whet one’s appetite before dinner or a main meal.

An Aperitivo is usually an alcoholic beverage like Aperol, Campari Spritz, or wine. This is always accompanied by a snack like a board with cured meats, cheese, bread, and olives.

In Bologna, the Aperitivo culture runs deep. Any time from about 6:00 pm to 8:00 pm in the evening, you’ll find cafes and wine bars with outdoor seating where you can enjoy a drink while soaking in the local culture.

The Aperitivo tradition is one of the best Bologna things to do. 

Local wines paired with Bologna specialties like Mortadella, Parma ham, Parmigiano Reggiano, and others make this a fun and tasty experience. 

AUTHENTIC FOOD QUEST TIP: To dive deeper into the Aperitivo culture and wine tasting in Bologna, we took and recommend this Wine Degustation Ebrezze experience. Spend 1.5 hours with a local wine expert tasting 6 different regional wines. Accompanied by a tasty platter of local specialties, you’ll learn about wines and the aperitivo in a fun and intimate environment.

5. Visit a Local Market

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Explore the bustling food markets in Bologna

The historic center of Bologna hosts a range of local markets, selling everything from flowers and plants to herbs.

A few steps from Piazza Maggiore is the oldest market in Italy, the Quadrilatero Old Market.

You’ll find food shops and stalls selling meat, fish, fruit, vegetables, and fresh pasta at the bustling Quadrilatero Old Market. There are even historic workshops and craft shops on offer, too.

Another market also within the city center is the very local Mercato delle Erbe. 

It’s a large covered market built on the site of an old church. You’ll find busy food stalls piled high with the freshest seasonal produce.

You can also enjoy a bite to eat in this market, savoring local specialties in an unpretentious setting.

Beyond the historic centre, you’ll find many other local markets around the city. The vibrant experience at Bologna food markets is unlike any other. 

That experience is worth visiting Bologna for.

RELATED: 6 Must-Visit Food Markets in Bologna For Tasty Local Flavors

6. Visit the Basilica of the Madonna di San Luca 

Basilica Madonna di San Luca Is Bologna Worth Visiting by Authentic Food Quest
In front of the iconic pilgrimage destination and Bologna landmark

A place of religious worship for centuries, a trip to the Sanctuary of the Madonna di San Luca should be included in any list of things to do in Bologna.

The Basilica of the Sanctuary of the Madonna di San Luca is situated atop the picturesque hill of Colle della Guardia. 

To get to the Basilica of the Madonna di San Luca, you can take an open-air tourist train or walk about 3.8km (approx. 2.3 miles) to the sanctuary.

Once you reach the summit of the walkway, you can take in the magnificent Basilica of the Sanctuary of the Madonna di San Luca.

The sanctuary is a popular pilgrim destination, especially during  Ascension Day when devotees make the journey to honor the Madonna di San Luca.

Inside the Basilica, take the narrow steps up to the terrace for 180-degree panoramic views of Bologna.

Not only a religious site, The Basilica of the Madonna di San Luca is also a symbol of Bologna and an iconic landmark.

RELATED: The 10 Best Rome Food Tours: Eat Like A Roman in Italy

7. Indulge in Cultural and Heritage Splendors at Piazza Maggiore 

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Bologna’s vibrant main square

Piazza Maggiore, Bologna’s main square one of the many attractions that makes Bologna worth visiting.

The Piazza Maggiore has been the beating heart of Bologna since 1200. That said, the square only became known by this name from the sixteenth century onwards.

Be sure to visit the Neptune Fountain, locally known as Fontana del Nettuno. Completed in 1566, the statue of the Roman God of Sea was built to symbolize the power of the Pope. 

The impressive Basilica di San Petronio is a major church located in Piazza Maggiore. It is dedicated to the patron saint of Bologna, Saint Petronius, who was a bishop of Bologna in the 5th century.  

The facade of the Basilica di San Petronio remains unfinished, as the construction was halted because the Pope did not want a church bigger than that of St. Peter’s in Rome.

You’ll also find the Palazzo re Enzo in the Piazza Maggiore. This is one of many palaces in the historic center of Bologna, all of which have their own history and legacy.

You can enjoy fantastic views of Piazza Maggiore by entering the historic Palazzo d’Accursio, or Palazzo Comunale.

The Piazza Maggiore is a vibrant crossroads where culture, history, and art converge

Spending time exploring the city’s cultural epicenter and learning about Bologna’s rich heritage.

8. Discover the Secrets of Authentic Balsamic Vinegar of Modena 

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Learn about the rich history of Modena’s Balsamic Vinegar in Bologna

Modena, located about 30 minutes away from Bologna is home to the world-famous Balsamic Vinegar of Modena, also called “Black Gold of Modena.”

In Bologna, you can visit Boutique Giusti di Via degli Orefici, one of the oldest balsamic vinegar producers in Italy.

At their boutique in Bologna’s historic center, you can learn about balsamic vinegar production using traditional methods passed down through generations.

Amongst centuries-old barrels of balsamic vinegar, we learned all about the art of vinegar making and its long cultural significance.

Once we were acquainted with the four centuries of history involved in the production of Bologna balsamic vinegar, we enjoyed a few tastings. 

The tastings comprised of Balsamic Vinegar of different ages, and we left with a true appreciation of exactly what it should really taste like.

AUTHENTIC FOOD QUEST TIP: After an enjoyable experience tasting traditional Balsamic Vinegar in Bologna, we decided to take a day trip to Modena to learn even more about the vinegar in its birthplace. If you are interested in, this Balsamic Vinegar Experience with a transfer from Bologna and back takes you to a traditional vinegar maker in Modena. You’ll learn all about the “Black Gold” of Modena while touring and tasting different aged vinegars. The tour ends with a delicious Balsamic Vinegar and ice cream tasting.

9. Stroll Under the Iconic Porticos

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Bologna’s Porticoes – UNESCO heritage and architectural pride

In 2021, the porticoes of Bologna became a designated UNESCO world heritage site.

Originally built as private property, the porticoes of Bologna Italy are an architectural treasure and part of the city’s identity.

Porticoes are magnificent covered and enclosed walkways adorned with beautiful columns and colonnades spread throughout the city. 

There is an extensive portico system with over 62 kilometers (38.5 miles) connecting different neighborhoods while providing sheltered passages for pedestrians.

The Bolognesi like to sit, stroll, drink, chat, and hide from bad weather under their much-beloved porticoes.

Bologna’s porticoes were first built in the eleventh century, the same century as the world’s oldest University of Bologna. 

They were first built to provide rooms above businesses while accommodating the growing student population.

Today they are a cherished cultural heritage and we loved the practical aspect of protecting ourselves from rain and sun while enjoying a pedestrian-friendly environment.

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10. Discover Bologna’s Hidden Canals

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Canale delle Moline is reminiscent of Venice

Venice is the most famous Italian city associated with canals. What is little known is that Bologna also had a long history with canals

In the twelfth century, the city built a waterway of around 60 km (approx. 37 miles). These canals connected the city to both the River Reno and Savena River.

The canals of Bologna played a pivotal role in enabling the city’s flourishing silk industry and trade.

You’ll find many street names in Bologna that acknowledge the history of the textile industry. 

Via delle Moline refers to the mills, Via dei Tessitori references the weavers, and Via Drapperie translates to the road of drapers. 

Today, many of the canals have been covered up and built over with parking garages. The waters still run through Bologna, but they can’t be seen above ground. 

You can still admire the remaining canals of Bologna through small windows on a number of key streets. 

The most famous is the window found on Via Piella, which overlooks the Canale delle Moline

In fact, this area is known as “Little Venice,”, and is a unique characteristic of Bologna that is well worth visiting.

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11. Take a Cultural Journey Through Bologna City’s Museums

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Uncover Bologna’s captivating history through its museums

When it comes to things to do in Bologna, there are many fascinating museums worth visiting

Discover this city’s ancient history at the Museum of the History of Bologna or Museo della Storia di Bologna

We loved visiting this museum for its engaging storytelling, and multi-media elements including an interactive reproduction of one of Bologna’s lost underground canals.

You begin your visit in the museum’s heart at the Tower of Time, a glass and steel structure designed by the artist Mario Bellini.

One of the most fascinating parts of the museum is a section dedicated to Bologna Mortadella, the city’s famous cured meat.

It’s also worth visiting the Archiginnasio Palace. Once the main location of the oldest university in the world, the Archiginnasio was built between 1562 and 1563. 

The building features a Portico, like much of Bologna, municipal art collections, and academic and cultural monuments.

Don’t miss the famous Anatomical Theater or Teatro Anatomico. Built in 1636, the theater once hosted university lectures including anatomical dissections used as a method of teaching.

Be sure to visit the Archiginnasio Municipal Library, too. It’s a public library and houses an impressive catalog, as well as hosting key cultural initiatives and events.

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12. Get into Gear with Motor Valley Car Sightseeing 

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Stunning orange Lamborghini

Emilia Romagna has a rich automotive heritage. If you are a car lover and looking for things to do in Bologna, we recommend visiting an automobile museum.

Bologna, and the surrounding towns of Modena, Imola, and Parma are part of what is known as the Motor Valley.

Many of Italy’s luxury automobile factories and companies like Maserati, Ducati, Ferrari, Pagani, and Lamborghini were founded in the area.

A passion for motor cars and racing exists throughout Emilia Romagna, and is particularly concentrated in Bologna and Motor Valley. 

In fact, there’s even a Motor Valley Festival held annually, where amateurs and professionals gather to celebrate the region’s motoring heritage.

If you love Italian luxury cars, take a day trip from Bologna, and visit the Ferrari Museum, Ducati Museum, and Lamborghini Museum, all of which are in Motor Valley. 

AUTHENTIC FOOD QUEST TIP: For an experience of a lifetime, consider taking a tour from Bologna to the iconic Ferrari, Lamborghini, and Pagani museums.  On this full-day tour, you’ll learn about the history and production of these legendary cars. Enthusiasts will also have the opportunity to test drive and experience the thrill of driving these and driving these world-class cars.

Where To Stay in Bologna

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Staying in the center is the most convenient

Although Bologna is a popular day trip destination, you’ll get the most out of your visit by planning for at least two days’ worth of exploration.

To explore all Bologna has to offer, we recommend staying in a central location. Following are some of the best places to stay in Bologna with easy access to the top things to do in the city.

LuxuryCasa Isolani

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Cozy room in Casa Isolani – Photo credit: Isolani World on Facebook

Located in Piazza San Stefano, Casa Isolani is a charming centrally located bed and breakfast. 

Depending on which room you book, you’ll enjoy panoramic views of some of Bologna’s top historical sites. 

All twelve rooms are clean and well-furnished, and a traditional Italian breakfast buffet is offered.

Shuttle service to the airport is available at an additional price.

See prices, read reviews, or to find similar luxury hotels, check: Booking.com 

Mid Range – Le Stanze dei Fiori

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Relax at this charming garden – Photo credit: Le Stanze dei Fiori on Facebook

Le Stanze dei Fiori is an ideally placed midrange Bologna hotel. 

Recently-renovated rooms are contemporary and clean, and some have terraces attached. 

There is also a lovely garden where you can unwind after a day of sightseeing. Bologna’s historic center is within easy walking distance, and the host, Barbara is helpful and informative.

See prices, read reviews, or to find similar hotels, check: Booking.com 

Budget Friendly – Hotel Tuscolano

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Affordable rooms close to the city center – Photo credit: Hotel Tuscano on Facebook

For a budget-friendly Bologna hotel, the family-owned Hotel Tuscolano is one of the best places to stay. Located near several parks including Bologna’s Botanical Garden, this is a great place to be within nature yet close to the city centre.

There is a buffet breakfast offered each morning and even two bicycles available for free for visiting Bologna.

See prices, read reviews, or to find similar budget-friendly hotels, check: Booking.com 

How Long To Stay in Bologna?

Although it is possible to take a day trip to enjoy the best Bologna highlights, we recommend visiting Bologna over a number of days. Plan to stay at least two to three days.

It is one of Italy’s Unesco World Heritage Sites, filled with culture and a rich gastronomy that is well worth discovering. 

RELATED: 10 Top Rated Wine Tasting and Tours in Bologna

When To Come To Bologna

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Bologna’s verdant countryside

If you’re planning to visit Bologna, we recommend traveling in either the Spring or Fall. This Italian city can get chilly in winter, and it’s humid and hot over the summer. 

By planning to visit Bologna in the months of the Spring and Fall, you’ll avoid the crowds and enjoy this historic city in cooler weather.

What And Where to Eat in Bologna

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Traditional aperitivo with cured meats and cheese

One of the best reasons to visit Bologna has to be the city’s food. In fact, Bologna is known as the gastronomic capital of Italy. 

Celebrated for its cured meats, balsamic vinegar, and much more, Bologna is a foodie paradise. It’s known as La Grassa, the Fat, for a reason!

Any Bologna itinerary must include the opportunity to dive into some of the city’s delicious food. Taste Bologna by enjoying these five must-eat local dishes.

Five Must-Eat Bologna Foods Not To Miss

1. Mortadella – Italian Cold Cut From Bologna

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Mortadella is a savory symbol of gastronomy in Bologna

Mortadella Bologna is one of the world’s most famous cured meats originating from Bologna.

Even though you may be with Bologna, a popular lunch meat commonly used in sandwiches in the United States, it is not the same in Bologna.

In Italy, Mortadella Bologna is an IGP product meaning its quality and production is strictly regulated. It is one of the most celebrated cured meats from Emilia Romagna made from noble cuts of pig.

Salt, pepper, spices, and natural flavorings are added, yielding an unbelievably flavorful smooth texture and bite with a slightly sweet aftertaste.

Mortadella is often eaten on its own, added to a sandwich, and is also always present on a charcuterie or Tagliere board. 

Pair Mortadella Tradizionale with Lambrusco wine from Bologna for a delicious taste of La Grassa.

If you don’t have plans to visit Bologna, you can order Mortadella Bologna IGP online and taste Bologna from the comfort of your home.

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2. Tagliatelle Al Ragù – Fresh Pasta With Meat Sauce

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Bolognese Tagliatelle al Ragù

One of the things that surprised us most in Bologna was learning that Spaghetti Bolognese does not exist in its city of origin.

In Bologna, the meat sauce is called “al ragu” and not bolognese sauce. Fresh tagliatelle pasta is used and not spaghetti. 

And, the sauce does not contain tomatoes, but rather tomato paste, which we learned in a cooking class, helps the meat stick better to the pasta.

Further, the color of fresh Tagliatelle used can be either yellow or green. The yellow pasta gets its color from eggs and the green color is from spinach added to the dough.

Tagliatelle al Ragu was one of our favorite pasta dishes and worth visiting Bologna for. 

AUTHENTIC FOOD QUEST TIP: Taking a cooking class in Bologna is a great way to learn how to make the city’s renowned pasta dishes. We took this Pasta Mama’s cooking class at a local’s home and learned how to make a variety of pasta dishes. You’ll spend 3-hours learning about Bologna’s culinary history and end with a delicious homemade lunch in an intimate local experience. See more Best Bologna Cooking Class in 2023 For Authentic Bolognese Pasta Making

3. Tortellini en Brodo – Filled Pasta In Broth

Tortellini En Brodo Is Bologna Worth Visiting by Authentic Food Quest
Heartwarming delicious tortellini in broth

Tortellini en Brodo is a delicious Bologna comfort food that consists of small, stuffed tortellini pasta  served in a flavorful broth or “en brodo.” 

The Tortellini pasta is filled with pork, prosciutto, mortadella, and parmesan, and served in a hearty beef or chicken broth. 

Tortellini en brodo is traditionally served in Italian cities of the Emilia Romagna region at Christmas time, when families gather to make the meal from scratch.

A wonderful mix of textures and flavors, don’t miss this delightful dish on your Bologna visit.

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4. Parmigiano Reggiano Cheese – Hard Cow’s Cheese

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Enjoy tasting Parmigiano Reggiano cheese

Known as the “King of Cheese,” Parmigiano Reggiano is a protected cheese from several provinces in northern Italy including Bologna.

This cheese has a long history from the Middle Ages and it continues to be made in the same natural way without using any additives. 

Parmigiano Reggiano is a hard cheese made from cow’s milk with a flaky texture and nutty, salty flavor. 

It is a prized Italian cheese grated over pasta dishes, eaten by itself or topped with Balsamic Vinegar di Modena.

Parmigiano Reggiano is one of the most imitated cheeses in the world. Be wary of fake cheeses that go by names like Parmesan, Parmigiana, Real Parma, or others.

Enjoy the real taste of Parmigiano Reggiano DOP, when you have it delivered to your home.

AUTHENTIC FOOD QUEST TIP: From Bologna, enjoy a private tour through Emilia Romagna for a full day of local specialty tastings. You’ll visit a Parmesan cheese dairy, a Parma ham producer, and a wine cellar. Lunch at a traditional restaurant with typical dishes including wine is also included. You also have the option of adding a visit to a family-run producer of Traditional Balsamic Vinegar PDO. Enjoy discovering some for the best Italian food at your own pace on a private tour.

5. Tigella – Traditional Flatbread From Emilia-Romagna

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Sweet or savory, they are an ideal on-the-go meal

Tigella, also known as Crescentina or Tigelle, is a traditional round Italian flatbread from Emilia-Romagna.

Near Modena, this flatbread is called Crescentini or Crescentina Montanara, which means grown in the mountain area. 

In the plains or flatlands of Bologna, it is referred to as Tigella or Tigelle.

The Tigella is versatile and can be eaten sweet or savory. It can be stuffed with Parma ham, Mortadella, pesto, Parmigiano Reggiano, and other savory fillings. Sweet fillings are typical Nutella and Mascarpone.  

These little bites are delicious and easy to eat while exploring Italy’s foodie city.

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Five Restaurants and Best Places to Eat Bolognese Traditional Specialties

1. Buca Manzoni

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Lasagna Bolognese is green and made with spinach-infused dough

Located in the heart of Bologna, Buca Manzoni is a typical Bologna tavern or osteria.

It’s laid back environment with tables available both outside and inside. 

The menu features recipes from Bologna made using fresh and seasonal ingredients. Lasagna from Bologna is a specialty and difficult to find in restaurants. 

At Buca Manzoni, they serve the traditional green lasagna made with spinach with the incredible meaty Bolognese sauce. Be sure not to miss this Lasagne alla Bolognese.

There is a buffet available for lunch and a la carte menu for dinner. For al fresco dining, we recommend making advanced reservations.

Buca Manzoni

Address: Via Manzoni 6 G, 40139 Bologna

Hours: Open Mon, Wed, Thurs, Fri, Sat and Sun; 12:00 pm – 3:30 pm and 7:00 pm – 11:30 pm. Closed on Tuesday.

2. Vagh in Ufezzi Restaurant

12 Reasons Why Is Bologna Worth Visiting (Food & Travel Guide) 1
Aperitivo plate served with the traditional fried bread

This local gem was highly recommended for its local ambiance and exceptional local dishes.

Vagh in Ufezzi restaurant is family-owned and conveniently located between Porta Castiglione and the Archiginnasio.

The menu consists of just a few seasonal dishes which change on a weekly basis. On our visit, we delighted in Balanzoni, a traditional pasta dish from Bologna.

Mirco works in the kitchen and Antonella will ensure all your needs are met in the dining room.

The restaurant has only a few tables and we recommend booking in advance for a taste of old Bologna recipes. 

Vagh in Ufezzi 

Address: Via de Coltelli 9 C, 40124 Bologna

Hours: Open Mon-Sat; 6:00 pm – 2:00 am. Closed on Sunday.

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3. Bottega Portici – Portico Pasta

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Traditional Bolognese street food pasta

Bottega Portici is a Bologna new concept that combines the best of fast street food with genuine Italian cuisine. 

It’s a casual eatery where the dishes are made in a traditional and sustainable way. The  Sfogline, or those that make the fresh pasta, prepare several kinds of pasta available to eat onsite or take away.

The food is served in eco-friendly and biodegradable bowls and cutlery. Open from breakfast to dinner, this is a comfortable and quick spot for high-quality Bologna food specialties.

Bottega Portici – Portico Pasta

Address: Via Indipendenza 69 and Piazza di Porti Ravegnana 2

Hours: Open daily, 8:00 am – 7:00 pm

4. Mercato delle Erbe

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Enjoy lunch with a glass of wine

As the largest covered market in the center of Bologna, you’ll find everything from fresh fruit and vegetables to cheese, meat, and wine.

There are also food courts both inside and outside Mercato delle Erbe where you can soak in the atmosphere alongside locals.

Savor freshly cooked dishes that change daily alongside local wine and beers.

Open every day except on Sunday, stop by at Mercato delle Erbe for lunch or Aperitvo in the evening.

Mercato delle Erbe

Address: Via Ugo Bassi, 25, 40121 Bologna

Hours: Open, Mon-Sat, 7:00 am – 12:00 am; Closed on Sundays.

5. I Portici Ristorante

Ristorante I Portici Is Bologna Worth Visiting by Authentic Food Quest
For a Michelin restaurant, try I Portici – Photo credit: Ristorante I Portici on Facebook

I Portici restaurant, a 1-Star Michelin Restaurant, offers a creative perspective to traditional Bolognese cuisine.

Located in I Portici Hotel Bologna, the restaurant space is within the Eden Theater, a former musical cafe in the 19th century.

Offering a sophisticated dining experience, you’ll enjoy cuisine rooted in the culinary traditions of the Emilia-Romagna region prepared with modern techniques and creative presentations.

Seasonal tasting menus are available, including an extensive selection of Italian and Emilia-Romagna wines. 

Book ahead if you plan to indulge in Bologna and Emilia-Romagna’s gastronomic heritage on your visit.

I Portici Ristorante

Address: Via dell’Indipendenza 69, 40121 Bologna

Hours: Open Tues -Saturday, 7:15 pm – 9:30 pm; Closed Sun-Mon

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Bologna Practical Tips

How To Get There By Train

Train Things To Do In Bologna by Authentic Food Quest
Bologna is easily accessible by train from cities nearby

Bologna is on the high-speed train network of Italy. The main train station, Bologna Centrale is just north of the city center, so is ideally placed. 

A journey from Florence to Bologna should take 40 minutes, and you can reach the city from Milan in around an hour. 

From Venice, it’s about 75 minutes, and the journey from Rome is around 2 hours and 20 minutes, or as little as 2 hours on some fast train lines.

By Flights

It’s also easy to get to Bologna Italy by plane. The city is connected to many cities in Europe, as well as big air travel hubs in the US.

Bologna airport is close to the city center (around 7 km or 4.3 miles). It is easy to get a taxi. 

There’s even an airport shuttle bus (the “TPER”) and Monorail, both of which run between the airport and the train station. 

The bus costs around €6 (around $6) and the train costs €9.20 (around $10).

Is Bologna Safe?

Basilica San Petronio Things To Do In Bologna by Authentic Food Quest
Basilica di San Petronio is one of the most visited and guarded places in Bologna

Bologna is a city with a big student population. We felt very safe at all times, and found that the center was buzzing with students, even in the wee hours of the night.

Is Bologna Expensive?

Restaurant Menu Things To Do In Bologna by Authentic Food Quest
Bologna is cheaper and less touristy than other renowned Italian cities

A key component to the question of “Is Bologna worth visiting” is considering its overall expense.

Compared to other Italian cities like Milan, Rome, and Florence, Bologna is not as expensive. 

Bologna Italy is also much less overrun by tourists than other popular Italian cities.

For lodging, book in advance due to the influx of local tourists and students during the school year. 

The prices of meals, fresh produce, and local wines are reasonable allowing you to fully savor the flavors of the gastronomic capital of Italy.

Overall, it is wise to book your accommodations and culinary experiences in advance to fully enjoy one of the most beautiful cities in Italy.

Is Bologna Worth Visiting?

Bologna View Is Bologna Worth Visiting by Authentic Food Quest
Bologna has a unique charm and energy

Our answer to the question of “is Bologna worth visiting” is a resounding, Yes!

For food lovers, the city is a destination not to miss. After all, it’s not called the gastronomic capital of Italy without reason.

Whether you choose to take a food tour or not, you’re guaranteed to savor delicious, freshly-made traditional meals.

There’s plenty of history and culture, too. More local and fewer tourists makes Bologna worth visiting.

We found our time in Bologna to be very enjoyable and cannot wait to make a return visit. As you consider your Italy travel itinerary, it is well worth visiting Bologna.

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Have you visited Bologna? In your opinion, what are the best things to do in Bologna?

Please let us know in the comments below.

Savor the Adventure!

Disclosure: Our visit to Bologna was facilitated by Bologna Welcome, Bologna’s Convention & Visitors Bureau. All views and opinions expressed are our own. Full bellies and happy taste buds too!

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