But when I heard my friends talking about Bologna, being described as an Italian foodie theme park, I found myself wondering quite what I could have been missing all of these years.
A short train ride from both Milan and Florence, Bologna (or more specifically The Quadrilatero) offers just that. It’s an old market that presents streets upon streets of the most delicious authentic food and drink imaginable.
Our route looked something like this: Aperol spritzes followed by Parma Ham with Balsamic Vinegar, Aperol spritzes followed by Tagliatelle al Ragù, Aperol spritzes followed by Tortellini in Brodo (meat broth), Aperol spritzes and parmesan, finished with Gelato and of course Aperol spritzes.
Bologna is the lively, historic capital of the Emilia-Romagna region, in northern Italy full of history, shopping, food and charm. The biggest Instagram feature is the city’s Two Towers, leaning Asinelli and Garisenda.
The second thing on our itinerary (after drinking as many Aperol’s as possible) was a 2-hour Walking Tour of Bologna starting at Piazza Maggiore, with access to Asinelli Tower and plenty of museums.
If I had to suggest my favourite one, I would say the International Museum and
Library of Music is the best – a vast home to many instruments, paintings and musical pieces by the world’s most famous Italian composers.
After all the “touristing”, we decided the best way to reward ourselves was with a slice of the best pizza in town, namely from Mozzabella, as well as a quick visit to Aroma for the best espresso shot around.
Other than the organised exploring we took a couple of hours to visit some of Bologna’s hidden gems. The University area and the former Jewish Ghetto speak for themselves. Full of the young, trendy, hip crowd of Bologna, these areas offer an eclectic mix of food, drinks and of course loads of artisan shops. The best and most local way to explore is to hire a scooter.
As the evenings draw in the most obvious thing to do is to head for more food. But first, a quick cocktail at Caffe Zanarini, taking in the Aperitivo hour, basically a small plate of some free food to entice you to the bars for a cocktail. So whilst I recommend Zanarini for a Bellini, I also strongly recommend the Aperitivo here.
Onto our evening meal and we headed to a tiny restaurant which was a recommendation that we at MFHQ just have to share: All’osteria Bottega. It’s small and modern but with a beautiful blend of traditional Italian charm.
We followed the recommendations from our server and started and ended with their rare sparkling red wine. If you want to experience delicious authentic Italian food then look no further. Night cap? Hidden in the side streets in the surrounding areas are cute little local bars with big personalities.
Another recommendation is Casa Monica… a place with a slightly older crowd, slightly more traditional in its true form, but none the less a lovely meal.
This is simply a snap shot of our weekend in Bologna, and as you’d expect – we only just started to scratch the surface. For a 2.5 hour flight to this un-obvious Italian city, I would say it’s worth a food indulgent trip.
Flights from Manchester Airport to Bologna start at £84 return this October with Ryanair