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Three Reasons to Visit Bologna

By Martina Kuhnert

Posted: 11th February 2014 11:01

Bologna boasts a beautiful historic centre, a thriving night life scene and, perhaps most importantly, it has the best food in the entire world.  The best cuisine found in Italy is, without a doubt, in the region of Emilia- Romagna.  Famed as the home as parmesan cheese, (Parmigiano Reggaiano) Parma ham, (Prosciutto di Parma) and aged balsamic vinegar (aceto balsamcio tradizionaledi Modena) even Italians from other regions will grudgingly admit that yes, Emilia-Romagna is home to the country’s finest food.  And as the largest town in the region, where else should you go but Bologna to sample some of Italy’s most delicious delights?

The affinity for food gave Bologna, the capital of the region, its nickname ‘La Grassa’: the Fat One.  And it is such a fitting moniker – the most famous dishes, such as tagliatelle al ragu, (Bolognese sauce to us) lasagne and mortadella (Italian sausage) were definitely not made with people on a diet in mind.  But luckily, the region’s finest sparkling red wine, Lambrusco, is a perfect match for most meals; it helps clear the palate and underlines the subtle taste of each dish, making room for more!

La Grassa is not Bologna’s only nickname; it is also called ‘La Dotta’, or the Wise One.  The birthplace of university in the western world, the Università di Bologna is still very much a part of the fabric of the town – every fifth resident of Bologna is a student.  As a result, you’ll find tons of bars and osterie (traditional restaurants) that cater perfectly for young people on a budget that still provide high quality cuisine.  After all, Italians are very particular when it comes food, student or not.

Are you travelling on a budget and want to make the most of your money and your time? Here are a few suggestions to help you experience the best of Bologna.  First things first, go for lunch, not dinner.  Most restaurants offer a set lunch menu, meaning you can enjoy an excellent main course, a glass of wine, a salad or dessert and coffee, and all for less than €15.  (If you went to the same restaurant in the evening, the same meal would cost you a fortune.)  For foodies seeking a true taste of Italy, we recommend Olivo (piazza Aldrovani), EatItaly (via Oreficio), Osteria dell`Orso (via Mentana) and E´cucina 24 (viale Masini.)

That is not to say you have to steer clear of Bologna’s restaurants every evening – and we bet the delicious aromas would be too hard to resist anyway.  But instead of opting for a heavy (and expensive) evening meal, how about going out for ‘aperitivo’: a glass of wine and finger food? Known as ‘apricena’ to the people of Bologna (‘cena’ means dinner in Italian) you simply enter a bar between 6-9pm, order a glass of wine or a refreshing beer and help yourself to snacks, usually at no extra cost.  Some bars offer small snacks, others, whole buffets, but the idea is that no one leaves hungry! Some of the best bars to enjoy apricena include Le Stanze (via del borgo S. Pietro), Gamberini (via Ugo Bassi 13) and Kabala Café (strada Maggiore.)

If you want something to do in between meals, look no further than Bologna’s archaic centre.  40 km of beautiful arches (some displaying amazing frescoes) line the streets, protecting you from the rain and the sun.  The town’s ancient Roman streets wind in between medieval palaces, unique boutiques, cool bars and quirky cafés, but the city’s main landmark however is the Two Towers.  You cannot visit Bologna and miss out on the chance to climb the 500 tower steps that lead to the roof; walk in the footsteps of revered writer Dante Alghieri, who climbed the tower 700 years ago, and enjoy the breathtaking views of the city sprawled below.  

For more information on Bologna please visit: http://culinary-factory-tours.com/

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