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Guide to Bologna

Bologna is a northern Italian destination rich with gastronomic tradition. The seventh-largest city in the country and the capital of the Emilia-Romagna region, it’s celebrated for medieval charm and culinary treasures that have become world-famous, like parmigiano reggiano cheese, balsamic vinegar, and prosciutto. We can't talk about Bologna without mentioning it's the birthplace of mortadella, which is best enjoyed alone or atop some good focaccia, as Giada prefers. (The city is named la grassa, “the fat one,” after all!) 

Aside from being a foodie’s paradise, Bologna is home to many wonders, like Europe's oldest and most renowned university, the University of Bologna, which has been in operation since 1088. As you wander through the city’s ancient streets, you'll be captivated by architectural treasures, including the astounding 644 arched porticos that grace nearly 2.5 miles of streets and squares. No matter what time of year or for how long you visit Bologna, take in all the sights, smells, and tastes. You'll discover this unassuming city is far more enchanting than you’ve ever imagined. 

Getting Around

Bologna is not only a city rich in history and culture, it’s also home to one of Italy's largest airports, Guglielmo Marconi Airport (BLQ). Flights land here from across Italy and most major European cities, making it an easy connection from the U.S. Once you land, take the recently introduced Marconi Express, a high-speed train, to whisk you to the city’s central train station. (Trains run every 7 minutes, and tickets cost €8.70 each.) 

It’s also easy to reach Bologna by train from pretty much anywhere else in Italy. High-speed trains connect the city with Milan, Florence, and Rome, as well as many other major cities—with top speeds of 180mph, these Frecciarossa trains will get you there safely and quickly.



This eatery inside Mercato delle Erbe is described as “a space made by people for people.” Come for the buzzy ambiance and stay for menu highlights like risotto of the day and freshly made pizzas and pasta.

Via Ugo Bassi, 23
+39 351 0144191

   Bella Vita Bologna

Tucked away in an alley of the medieval market known as Quadrilatero lies this small-plates restaurant. Hang out with friends and order aperitivo and a heaping plate of delicious mortadella and cured meats. 

Via Clavature, 2B
+39 34 21654812

   Bruno e Franco

This classic salumeria sells amazing meats and freshly made pasta. Many stop by to share in the joy of taking a cooking class to learn how to make handmade pasta.  

Via Guglielmo Oberdan, 16A
+39 051 233692

   Caffè Terzi

Where to go for a great cup of espresso and cappuccino? Stop by this historic coffee shop where they serve your coffee from a tiny window. Enjoy dipping a fresh, flaky croissant into your cappuccino with a chocolate drizzle for the ultimate breakfast treat. 

Via Guglielmo Oberdan, 10D
+39 051 3179115

   Gelateria Gianni

When it comes to Italian adventures, one thing's for sure—you can never have too much gelato. This gelateria is an absolute must-visit, with delectable, fresh, and seasonally inspired flavors. We have a soft spot for the mouthwatering strawberry marsala and the creamy fior di latte.

Via Monte Grappa, 11/A
+39 051 233008

   Gran Bar

This local-favorite bar features lots of inventive spritzes, like the trendy Hugo, made with elderberry syrup and mint. There are a ton of other libations on the menu, plus fresh-made sandwiches and pizzas. Whether you sit outside or pull up a stool at the counter, the good-time vibes are unmatched.

Via d'Azeglio, 8A
+39 051 227522

   La Baita Vecchia Malga

Sample delights like caramelized figs and cheeses or buy gifts for loved ones to try as a souvenir from your Italian travels at this one-stop shop for delicious bites from Bologna. Pick up a few goodies here and create the perfect Bologna picnic.

Via Pescherie Vecchie, 3A
+39 051 223940

   La Bottega Del Caffè

Be sure to grab a coffee at the counter of this old-school shop. Then, check out the market to buy everything from Italian coffee beans to moka pots and more.

Via Torrione San Francesco, 2
+39 018 7622995

   L’è Bon

When cravings for comfort food hit—think lasagna bolognese, tortellini, and tagliatelle with ragù—make a beeline for this charming, family-run restaurant. They’re celebrated for their delicious, inexpensive local cuisine.

Via Rialto, 54B
+39 051 262798

   Mò Mortadella Lab

Don't be discouraged by the occasional line outside; the treasures that await within are well worth the wait. There are plenty of creative panini to choose from, like mortadella with stracciatella topped with sundried tomato and basil. These sandwiches are a triumphant trio of freshness, flavor, and satisfaction.

Via de’ Monari, 1C
+39 051 0863992

   Osteria Dell'Orsa

For a dinner experience that embodies the true essence of Bologna, head to this osteria for communal tables and to enjoy cozy and comforting food, like tagliatelle with ragu and tortellini soup. Savor classic dishes like tagliatelle with ragu and tortellini soup. Additionally, their crostini offerings come with playful names, such as “orgasmico,” adding a touch of whimsy to your dining experience.

Via Mentana, 1F
+39 051 231576

   Osteria Del Sole

Rumor has it this bar dates back to 1465, when osterias like this were common meeting places for travelers and students alike. Bring your own food to this unique spot, and enjoy it alongside Romagna-region wines with locals and visitors alike.

Vicolo Ranocchi, 1/D
+39 347 9680171

   Pigro Mortadelleria

This tiny mortadelleria serves up wines and salumi in a comfortable, casual setting. As the name suggests, you should order the mortadella and salumi with some focaccia and enjoy the co-mingling of simple flavors in one bite.

Via de' Pignattari, 1B
+39 366 5089699

   Salumeria Simoni

Steps away from Piazza Maggiore lies this popular salumeria, packed with cured meats and cheeses that are local to the region. Locals and guests rave about the variety of deli meats, fresh and fluffy focaccia, and excellent ambiance.

Via Drapperie, 5/2A
+39 051 231880

   Scemuà Bistrot

This cafe blurs the lines between trendy and classic. Whether you're seeking a cup of expertly crafted coffee or a light, satisfying brunch, this spot has you covered. In the afternoon, indulge in heartier delights, like burgers crowned with creamy burrata.

Via del Pratello, 3
+39 051 4842578

   Trattoria Di Via Serra

Though modest in size, this charming trattoria has earned a well-deserved reputation for serving some of the most exceptional cuisine in the entire city. The pasta dishes are cooked to perfection (you won’t regret ordering the tortellini!) and the flourless chocolate torte is rich, silky, and melt-in-your-mouth decadent.

Via Luigi Serra, 9B
+39 051 6312330


   Drogheria Gilberto

This store is a treasure trove of all things savory and sweet. You’ll find everything from fruit jellies to porcini mushroom cream to coffee beans. Pro tip: Head downstairs to find an unbelievable selection of wines from all over Italy. This makes for the perfect place to buy souvenirs to bring back home.

Via Drapperie, 5/A
+39 051 223925

   Finestrella di Via Piella

Known as “little Venice,” this quaint spot is a small window tucked away in Via Piella that offers a unique, picturesque view of the city's canal system. This hidden window showcases the few stretches of running water in the city that weren’t covered with asphalt between the beginning of the 20th century and the postwar period. 

Via Marsala, 39
+39 339 1191905

   Giardini Margherita

This beautiful park offers a peaceful escape from the city's hustle and bustle. Here, you can wander through lush gardens, find the perfect spot for a leisurely picnic, or unwind by the serene lakeside. There are a few cafes to enjoy and savor the beloved Italian tradition of aperitivo.

Viale Giovanni Gozzadini
+39 051 203040

   La Grassa Bologna Food Lover's Tour

If you’re going to be in the culinary capital of Italy, you need to book a foodie tour. The Giadzy team and countless others rave about La Grassa Bologna Food Lover's Tour by Curious Appetite. Begin your culinary journey by sampling treats while meandering through the vibrant streets, historic markets, and family-owned delicatessens. Along the way, savor a diverse range of flavors, from fresh pasta to gelato, providing a thorough glimpse into the city's culinary wonders. 

Via Valdonica, 8
+39 339 5398730

   Mercato delle Erbe

Sample fruits and vegetables, meat, cheese, wine, seafood, and much more at this covered market, known to be the largest in the historical city center. Some areas of the market have been transformed into a food court, so you can try even more local cuisine served fresh. 

Via Ugo Bassi, 25
+39 335 5971753

   Paolo Atti e Figli

Even if you've overindulged in Bologna's culinary delights, don't miss out on this historical treasure. Nestled within the Quadrilatero district, you'll find a cluster of storefronts in close proximity, each offering a delectable array of baked goods, handmade pasta, fresh bread, and more.

Via Caprarie, 7A
+39 051 220425

   Piazza Maggiore

Undoubtedly the symbol of Bologna, this lively square is home to the grand Basilica of San Petronio, the historic Palazzo d'Accursio, and the striking Fountain of Neptune, among other spectacles. Enjoy a vibrant atmosphere with street performers, local markets, and charming cafés and restaurants serving delicious Bolognese cuisine.

Piazza Maggiore

   Piazza di Porta Ravegnana

This historic square is known for its iconic city gate, Porta Ravegnana, which has been standing since the Middle Ages. The gate is a captivating piece of Bolognese history, part of the city's ancient defensive walls.

Piazza di Porta Ravegnana


This vibrant district is steeped in a rich tradition of craftsmanship, trade, and commerce that traces its roots all the way back to the Middle Ages. As you pass through the archways behind Piazza Maggiore, you’ll step into narrow, aromatic alleyways, adorned with unique “holes.” Wander through market stalls, happening cafes, and gourmet delis.

Via Clavature & Via Castiglione

   Sanctuary of the Madonna di San Luca

This place of worship atop a hill is connected to the city center by a road that starts at Porta Saragozza and goes for over two miles, adorned by porticos that boasts over 600 archways. Hike up the pathway to reach marvelous views overlooking the surrounding landscape.

Via di San Luca, 36
+39 051 6142339

   San Petronio Basilica

Named after the city's patron saint, this landmark is one of the largest churches in the world. A curious sight, the church's façade remains partially clad in marble, with locals often sharing amusing tales of why it was never fully completed. Regardless, this gothic church is a breathtaking beauty that you should check out during your stay. 

Piazza Maggiore, 40124 
+39 346 5768400

   Two Towers

Did you know there’s a tower that tilts even more dramatically than the famous one in Pisa? That’s what you’ll find at the city's landmark: Two Towers. Climb the "non-leaning tower," which still leans at a striking angle of 95 degrees to enjoy a unique perspective.

Piazza di Porta Ravegnana, 40126

   Day Trip to Dozza

The medieval town of Dozza remains a well-kept secret, despite its coveted status by the prestigious association of I Borghi più belli d'Italia as one of Italy's most charming, well-preserved villages. Spend a day here to view the street art, tour the Dozza Castle (be sure to head downstairs to the wine cellar for a pour), and try the family-owned restaurants of this incredible little town. 

40060 Metropolitan City of Bologna


   Hotel NH Bologna de la Gare

This hotel is incredibly close to Bologna's train station, making it convenient for those who arrive by train. It's the perfect base for your Bologna adventure as it’s close to all of the best shops and restaurants in town, as well as all famous haunts like Piazza Maggiore and the Quadrilatero. There’s even a cool speakeasy in the hotel for guests to enjoy a tasty tipple after their daytime adventures.

Piazza XX Settembre, 2
+39 051 281611

   Grand Hotel Majestic già Baglioni

Nestled in the heart of Bologna, the luxurious and historic Grand Hotel Majestic già Baglioni earns its reputation as the city's most prestigious and iconic hotel, attracting celebrities, heads of state, and even royalty as their favored haven. The hotel provides opulent guest rooms and suites, each elegantly appointed with a blend of classic and modern amenities to ensure a comfortable and memorable stay. Stop by I Carracci restaurant, which is renowned for its gourmet Italian cuisine. For wine enthusiasts, the newly added "Enoteca Morandi" boasts an impressive wine cellar stocked with fine Italian and international wines, perfectly complementing the regional menu.  

Via dell'Indipendenza, 8
+39 051 225445

   Palazzo Di Varignana

Farther away from Bologna’s city center is the grand resort Palazzo Di Varignana, which will feel like a reprieve from busy days of travel. On this beautiful estate, modern and classic Italian architecture blend seamlessly. You can spend your days leisurely exploring the seven magnificent pools or treating yourself to the indulgent Varsana SPA experience. One thing not to miss: booking a reservation at Il Grifone. This Michelin-starred restaurant offers contemporary Mediterranean cuisine and is a can’t miss. You can also take part in an olive oil and wine tasting, plus shop products they sell on-site, like gianduja spread, cinnamon plum jam, and more.

Via Ca' Masino, 611A
+39 051 19938300

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