Those who know, know - Bologna has some of the very best food in Italy, and here's what you need to eat when you go.
Bologna, the capital of the Emilia-Romagna, is a fascinating place to visit. It has earned a title by locals as "the learned city," and sometimes "the fat city" (which sounds a lot more quaint in Italian: la città grassa). These nicknames come from two of Bologna's most unique attributes: the historic and famed university, and the absolutely mouthwatering food.
Chances are, some of your favorite decadent Italian cuisine hails from Bologna. Here are all of the regional specialty dishes you have to try when you visit.
This beloved meat ragu originated in Emilia-Romagna - whether or not it came exactly from Bologna is up to debate among food historians, but one thing is for certain: they sure have perfected it. Often served with tagliatelle or stuffed pasta, expect an incredibly rich bolognese that has been simmering for hours and hours.
Tortellini are so ubiquitous in Bologna, they're referred to as the gems or jewels of the city. Every handmade pasta shop will have them proudly on display, and all the gift shops within city limits sell tchotchkes in the shape of tortellini! These teeny stuffed pastas are served in a myriad of ways, from tortellini en brodo (in broth) to tortellini bolognese and everything in between.
...And every other stuffed pasta you can find
Tortellini may be the star, but if you love all the stuffed pastas, Bologna is still the place to go. They just do it right.
Thin slices of Mortadella are one of life's great joys. This cured pork product is studded with fat, black pepper, pistachios, and magic. Fun fact: mortadella is the predecessor to what we know in the states as bologna. It was first referred to as "Bologna Sausage" and went through quite a few changes to become the recognizable bologna that it is in the US now. We have no hesitation in saying that the OG Mortadella is far, far superior.
This decadent dish is fairly self-explanatory, but it has one element that makes it unique and special to Bologna: green pasta sheets! Lasagna in Bologna is comprised simply of spinach-dyed pasta sheets (or crepes!), creamy bechamel sauce, bolognese, and Parmigiano. Divine.
A town that takes food this seriously is sure to churn out some incredible gelato, right? Right. Rich and creamy perfection. The signature gelato flavor in Bologna is fig and ricotta - so if you head there between July and October, take advantage of fig season!