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We go to Bologna for the food - and discover a pretty cool town - but, yah, the food …

Updated: Jun 21, 2022

We raced out of Venice early in the morning because we had to get to a 10 am food tour in Bologna, which was a two-hour drive away.

Despite Cyn’s best efforts (and lead foot), we were 15 minutes late but we caught up to the group at a coffee shop having cappuccino and croissants. And we are really glad we did. This turned out to be the best tour of the this trip.

Our guide, Ricardo, was funny, engaging, and super knowledgeable about his city and about food.

Bologna is apparently known as the city of towers. It used to have more than 200 but just 20 or so remain, and many of them, like this one, have a precarious lean.

Bologna is also known as ‘The Learned One’ because it has the oldest university in Europe and there are 80,000 students here at any given time, in a place with a basic population of 800.000. We saw lots of graduation parties during our day here.

And it is known as ‘The Fat One’ because of the food. Bologna has not traditionally been a big tourist destination but, thanks to folks like Stanley Tucci, the food is starting to be a draw. Which is, of course, why Cyn and I are here.

We started off at a pasta place watching women make tortellini.

Then we walked through the old city centre, including the old Jewish ghetto, down streets lined with shops full of Parma ham, and baked goods, pasta, and wheels of Parmesan cheese.

Ricardo took us to an authentic Osterria which has been operating as a bar for 600 years, and where there are signs warning us not to spit on the floors. It’s a ‘bring your own food, we will supply the booze’ place - and, while we drank what we thought was delicious Proseco, he explained why there is much better Proseco out there to be had.

As we walked through the old part of the city and the market area, he told us about the place where the official recipes of the region’s signature dishes are stored, and how Parma ham and Parmesan cheese etc get their official designations. We got a curbside tasting of mortadella and salami and their more interesting cousins, and a lesson in balsamic vinegar and balsamic glaze (which can cost $500 a bottle here for the 100 year old good stuff) - washed down with really interesting wine.

We strolled a street that has actual arrows from the Middle Ages stuck in the wood of overhead walkways.

Rico showed us a statue of Neptune with a modest sized penis - apparently the cardinal of the day had demanded that Neptune’e manhood be downsized. The sculptor complied but. From another vantage point, the God’s hand serves as a mighty love sword.


We went a great restaurant where they served us fresh tagliatelle and lasagna (always made with green noodles in this city) then some more wine.

And we ended with a walk to a creamery and got our hands deliciously covered with super good gelato cones - mine was dark chocolate and cherry.

Such a great tour and such a great guide!

Then we went back to our car to find our AirBNB which is on the fifth floor of a building - with an old-fashioned elevator - yay!!! This is the most modern and posh place we have stayed. We both got large rooms with large comfy beds and the cost for one night $120CAD.

We sorted our bags for a bit and I had a brief nap while Cyn researched the best places to have dinner and made a reservation. We headed back out and stopped for aperitifs at two places.

Then we searched out the restaurant she had chosen. It turned out, quite accidentally, to be the same place where we had the tagliatelle and lasagna at lunch. In all of Bologna, we only really ate at one restaurant! But it was a good one! Then back to the flat to sleep it off.

It was a day all about food - and we are very happy.

Tomorrow we are off to Rimini for a day at the beach!





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Martin Stringer
Martin Stringer
May 25, 2022

Bologna is one of my favourite cities in Italy. Love it! :) Glad you got there :)


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