Think of travelling to Italy, and the cities that spring to mind are Rome, Venice, Florence, Pisa… but Bologna is definitely a place that should be on that list as well. This stunningly pretty city is known as ‘La Grassa, La Rosa, La Dotta’ (the fat, the red and the learned), thanks to its amazing food, red roofs, and university (which is often considered the oldest in the world). Enjoy a weekend here, and see if it can bump Rome from your list as the best city in Italy!
Get To Know The Locals At Osteria Dell’Orsa
Bologna might be a foodie city (and the home of the mortadella sausage), but that doesn’t mean that eating out here has to be expensive. The Osteria Dell’Orsa will give you a great glimpse into what the locals love in this city and will even help you meet a few thanks to communal tables. The Osteria started life in the late ‘70s, a pub-turned osteria that also hosted punk bands! Now, Osteria Dell’Orsa is all about great local food (and local wines, with an emphasis on farm-to-table menus), serving up incredible pasta dishes and the occasional live show or poetry reading in the evening. You can even buy some of the fresh pasta next door to take home if you just can’t get enough.
Wander The Markets Of The Quadrilatero
While Bologna has plenty of museums to visit, you can get a fantastic sense of the history of the city just by wandering the streets of the old market quarter, known as the Quadrilatero. This central area originally housed the craft guilds of the city, and now the area has become an area bustling with shoppers and market stalls selling everything you can imagine - and especially food! Many of the shops have been largely preserved throughout the centuries, while still functioning as shops, and offer a stunning experience as you duck in from the cobbled streets outside. This is definitely one of the most charming spots in the city.
Step Back In Time At The Pinacoteca Nazionale
Continue to embrace the medieval history of the city with a visit to the Pinacoteca Nazionale, a major art museum that houses pieces dating back to the 14th century. Much of the collection is (unsurprisingly) religious artwork, but it also presents other styles, including the early works of several schools of art. As well as the pieces on the wall, don’t forget to look up as you enter to take in the incredibly high ceilings that contribute to the almost religious feel of the space. The Pinacoteca Nazionale is centrally located, too, so you can enjoy the stroll through the city to reach the gallery, as well as the exterior of the building.
Try Real Bolognese Ragu At Trattoria Anna Maria
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One thing that you may notice in Bologna is that the most famous dish to come from the city, spaghetti Bolognese, is nowhere to be found on menus! This is very simply because in Bologna, this rich red sauce is simply called ‘ragu’, and the best place to sample it is at Trattoria Anna Maria. This restaurant, open since 1985, has walls covered in photos of the celebrities who have dined there. This small diner is less concerned with appearances than with incredible cooking. The menu is inspired by the nearby countryside where Anna Maria herself grew up, with hearty pasta and meat dishes, and of course, the ‘bolognese’ that the city is famous for.
Of course, there is far more to do in Bologna than simply eating and wandering the beautiful streets of the oldest parts of town. From grand operas to street art, this is a city of contrast, which means there is certainly something to do for everyone (as long as you love pasta!). What is your favorite thing to do in Bologna?