Let’s imagine you’ve only got one day in Bologna. Luckily for you, in this historic walled city you can explore most places on foot, so we’ll let you in on some of our favourite places and things to do in Bologna recommended our local Claudio, making sure you sample all of the Bolognese culinary delights along the way!
Parco Giardini Margherita
Our perfect day in Bologna actually starts outside of the city walls, and although it’s only a short bike ride or a walk away you’ll find that the location on the outskirts of the city means pretty much only frequented by locals, particularly young families. This beautiful park is the ideal spot to escape the city center, relax on the grass with a book, spot the turtles in the lake or explore the market that takes place on Sundays. On a sunny morning there’s no place we’d rather be.
La Tua Piadina
Photo credit: erisorante.com
We couldn’t let you come to Bologna without trying a piadina. And we think this tiny cafe, tucked away on the same street as Pasolini’s childhood home, serves the best piadine in Bologna. A bold statment, we know, but the fresh bread is delicious and the list of local meats and cheeses you can choose as fillings for your hand crafted sandwich is seemingly endless so you’ll be agreeing with us in no time. The size means the atmosphere is pretty cosy, so lot’s of customers get their food to go, we recommend you do like the locals and enjoy your piadina whilst wandering the nearby streets.
Piadina in hand (although they’re so tasty we wouldn’t be surprised if it’s disappeared already), spend some time meandering through Quadrilatero, an area developed in the Middle Ages and still thriving today. We think there’s nothing quite like walking around and maybe getting a little lost to really soak up the local atmosphere and get the feel of a new city, and with such beautiful historic streets Bologna is no exception! The Quadrilatero area has many small streets to explore, with the goods from bakeries, delis, craft shops and jewelers spilling out of tiny shops and onto the streets, but make sure you don’t miss via Clavature, via Pescherie Vecchie and via Degli Orefici.
ONO Arte Contemporanea
Photo credit: bolognawelcome.com
Much more than just a gallery, ONO (and if you’re thinking Yoko you’re not wrong) is an event space, lounge bar and concept store showcasing photography, video art, sculpture, books and design objects. Their exhibitions tend to be photographic, based on music and cinematic cultural icons but they also host readings, lectures and screenings. This is art for everyone, so even if you don’t stay for sunset drinks it’s well worth spending an hour at this gallery.
After all this walking, we think you deserve a little coffee and cake. Luckily for you, our next stop is at the oldest bakery in Bologna which unsurprisingly has become something of an institution. You’ll find a mouth watering selection of sweet and savory treats; the perfect accompaniment to a cappuccino or glass of prosecco.
Mercato di Mezzo
We think food shopping might just be the best kind of shopping, so if you’re a foodie make sure you don’t miss out on Mercato di Mezzo, the oldest of the city markets here in Bologna. A beacon of Bolognese culinary culture, you’ll find everything here from freshly baked pastries to munch on as you explore to fresh fruit, vegetables, cheese, meat and fish to take home, or if you fancy spending a little longer there’s a microbrewery pub in the basement and a pizzeria on the first floor.
Shopping on via Portanova
Next up, head to via Portanova for some shopping, or window shopping if that’s more your thing! Our picks for both men and women’s clothes would be Protec, Le Marais and Neirami but there’s plenty to explore, so spend an hour browsing this famed shopping street.
Aperitivo at Mercato delle Erbe
Although this traditional indoor market is open all day, we recommend going in the evening for aperitif. You’ll find the market hall just as vibrant and buzzing at this time as it is throughout the day, so explore the stalls and check out the fruit, vegetables, meat and seafood being bought by the locals and then join them in a drink before you head for dinner. The market and surrounding streets have an abundance of bars and restaurants to choose from, so take your pick and enjoy a glass of something chilled while you people watch; the locals come here not only to shop, eat and drink but to see and be seen!
Dinner at Da Bertino
It’s no easy task choosing just one restaurant to recommend for dinner, but we like to think we’ve done pretty well here. Da Bertino has been serving up homemade pasta, Bolognese specialities and zuppe inglese since 1957, and the family has got it down to a fine art. It’s not fancy and may at first glance look slightly unassuming, but here it’s all about the food; we promise the traditional dishes will not disappoint.
Photo credit: galleria49.it
We couldn’t let you leave without trying the BEST gelato in the world. There might be one or two other places in Italy who claim that this is true about their ice-cream, but the only way to find out if we’re telling the truth is to visit and taste for yourself, right? Galliera 49 serves up unbelievably delicious artisanal gelato, sorbet and granita from a shop where you can watch the whole process from the starting ingredients to the happy moment when you’re handed your gelato! Perfect any time of day, we like to enjoy ours after dinner strolling around the historic city.
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