Culture bites

10 foodie things to do in Bologna

1. Start your day outside Caffè Vittorio Emanuele in Piazza Maggiore with a cappuccino and brioche (they’ll also give you a glass of water to go with it), and watch the world unfold.

1. Start your day outside Caffè Vittorio Emanuele in Piazza Maggiore with a cappuccino and brioche (they’ll also give you a glass of water to go with it), and watch the world unfold.

2. Head for the Mercato delle Erbe for fruit, vegetables, prosciutto crudo, balsamic vinegar, parmigiano reggiano cheese, local products and more. You need to look for the sign that's fairly hidden by the shopping centre. Go at lunchtime and try one of the cafés. Altro? (named after the Italian way of saying, anything else?) does light lunches, pizza and artisan beer.

3. Go out the other side of the market and opposite the exit you’ll find a place called Le Sfogline. Sfoglina (singular) refers to a woman who makes pasta using traditional techniques and this is where they are still making their tortellini as they always have done. According to the legend, Venus was staying in an inn during the battles between Modena and Bologna in the 14th century. The innkeeper went to wake her, and when he saw her naked, was amazed by the beauty of her belly button. And thus the tortellino was born, in the shape of Venus’ belly button.

4. Eat tortellini and tagliatelle al ragù at Trattoria Anna Maria. Signora Anna Maria has been managing the restaurant and serving up traditional home cooking for the past 32 years.

5. Head for Salumeria Simoni for Parma ham, mortadella, culatello, ciccioli (Italian pork scratchings), parmigiano reggiano cheese and freshly made bread. It’s a traditional style deli where you can sit in and eat.

6. All’OsteriaBottega is reputed to be one of Bologna’s finest, and offers traditional Bolognese cooking within a family-run atmosphere. Try their local salumi (cured meats), traditional pasta dishes (such as tortellini in capon broth) and cotoletta alla bolognese, a classic veal cutlet in breadcrumbs that’s fried in butter and then topped with Parma ham and parmigiano reggiano cheese and cooked in broth.

7. Go for fast food – or casual food, as they call it - Italian style at Bottega Portici where the emphasis is on high quality ingredients and local gastronomic culture. Sit in, take out, or take a look at their range of local products. They also offer cooking classes.

8. Milan has its fashion quadrilateral and Bologna has its food quadrilateral. Via Drapperie, via Pescherie Vecchie and via Clavature is an area that dates back to the tradesmen and merchants of Medieval times. Browse the markets, buy a few local products or sit at one of the tables outside and have an aperitivo or bite to eat. 

9. Majani have been producing chocolate since 1796. Try their gianduia (soft chocolates made with hazelnut cream) or FIAT cremino chocolates, known as cremino because the chocolate is creamy and made up of four distinct layers. This is the chocolate with which Majani won the 1911 Fiat competition to develop a new chocolate to celebrate the launch of the Tipo 4 model.

10. And finally, go for ice cream at Cremeria Scirocco. Owner Andrea Bandieri won Gambero Rosso’s prize for best gastronomical ice cream in 2018. Try parmigiano with dried figs or gorgonzola with nuts.

Rachael Martin
Rachael Martin, originally from the UK, is a freelance writer and journalist based just north of Milan, and has lived in Italy for twenty years. She writes about travel and food in Italy for a wide range of publications and is currently writing a guidebook about Milan. You can find her on Instagram @rachinitaly and at She also writes a blog at
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