City Eats: Bologna

With a nickname like la grassa (the fat one), it comes as no surprise that Bologna has an exceptional culinary heritage. Still relatively undiscovered compared to larger Italian cities, Bologna is peppered with old-school osterias and markets brimming with fresh produce, making it a fantastic getaway for any self-confessed foodie.

Where to stay
Situated on a quiet side street just 50 metres from the bustling Via Indipendenza, Hotel Metropolitan is a peaceful idyll with clean-cut modern design throughout. The rooftop bar is a welcome touch, where you can enjoy an enormous Aperol spritz while overlooking the historic university town, complete with seemingly endless bar snacks. 

A good start
Breakfast is not big in this part of the world, with locals often choosing a coffee-based start to the day. In spite of this, there are plenty of tempting pasticcerie (bakeries) to choose from. Gamberini is my pick of the bunch, serving up beautiful pastries that wouldn't be out of place in a Parisian patisserie. The pistachio croissant is a must-try for breakfast, and the bigné alla panna (a chantilly and crème patissière-filled choux bun) is an indulgent mid-afternoon treat. The table service is incredibly slow, so order at the counter and take a seat outside instead.

Luckily for those who prefer a more substantial breakfast, Pappare' is a popular venue for young locals, serving up decadent croissants filled with chantilly and berries, or smoked salmon and avocado.

Traditional fare
When it comes to choosing a dinner destination, the vast choice of venues on offer can seem overwhelming. Be sure to book ahead on weekends and Fridays, as tables quickly fill with locals and tourists alike.

Trattoria Da Me (Via San Felice, +39 051 555486) is a modern twist on the classic trattoria. Start with a sharing platter of mozzarella and local mortadella, just ready to be stuffed into warm crescentine (mini dough pockets). Tagliatelle al ragù is of course on the menu, as are equally traditional tortellini in brodo - tiny pasta pods filled with meat, served in a steaming bowl of broth. 

For a real Italian experience, head to Drogheria della Rosa for a long, lazy lunch. The set menu includes a glass of wine with ham and cheese to start, followed by pasta, a main course and a dessert. Highlights include the aubergine ravioli and the guinea fowl with honey, all rounded off nicely with a fantastic amaretto-spiked semifreddo. The lovely waiters even gave us a bottle of prosecco to go home with, which certainly came as a welcome surprise!

When it comes to pasta, nowhere beats Sfoglina Rina. This half restaurant, half pasta shop is a popular spot for many of the town's 100,000 students as it serves up some of the best pasta in the city- and at very reasonable prices. The menu changes weekly, but the lasagne verde and the saffron risotto with burrata and courgette flowers are unmissable. Arrive early (or late) to avoid the heaving lunch rush.

Gelato hotspots 
There is no shortage of great gelaterias across the city, with many staying open until 11pm to satisfy late-night gelato cravings. Cremeria Funivia in Piazza Cavour is undoubtedly the best of the bunch, serving up unusual gelato flavours and vast array of sorbets. The San Luca is the cream of the crop; a nostalgic treat of rice crispies swirled into white chocolate gelato. Don't be put off by the queue of hungry hordes- it's absolutely worth the wait. 

Oggi and Venchi are both popular gelato chains across Italy, but don't let that stop you. The cremino and nougatine flavours from Venchi are exceptionally indulgent, while Oggi's tiramisù option tops creamy mascarpone gelato with a sprinkling of cocoa powder for a grown-up treat.

A tipple
Despite placing itself in Piazza Maggiore (the main square), prices at Signor Vino don't rise to the sought-after location. Enjoy a chilled bottle of Valdobbiadene prosecco for just over 10 euros while admiring the Basilica di San Petronio, Bologna's main church. Or, if you find yourself in the Giardini Margherita on a sunny day, pop over to Vetro for a spritz in the shade.


Mercato di Mezzo sits in the centre of the city, offering an array of fresh fare to be enjoyed around communal tables. The fritto misto from Pescheria Del Pavaglione is not to be missed; perfect washed down with a cool glass of fizz. If you want to stock up on local produce, head to Mercato delle Erbe, where overflowing stands of vibrant veggies take over the centre of the market, while Banco 32 serves up some of the best seafood that the city has to offer.