There’s no country more in touch with its cuisine than Italy. The world couldn’t help but agree. In fact, Italian is hailed as the number one most delicious cuisine according to CEO World Magazine. But what makes this European peninsula’s food so special? It’s time to take a closer look with a Bologna food tour.
What you should know about Bologna
Bologna is the capital city of Emilia-Romagna, a region located in Northern Italy. While not as big and populated as Rome or Milan, Bologna has its own charm that you surely would not want to miss out on.
This, of course, includes Bologna’s must-see sights and destinations. Head to the middle of the city, and you’ll find Piazza Maggiore, a central public square surrounded by architectural wonders such as the Palazzo d’Accursio, Basilica di San Petronio, and Palazzo Comunale.
And did you know that Bologna has its own set of interesting buildings? Though not as popular as the one in Pisa, the leaning towers of Bologna will undoubtedly catch your attention as you stroll through the city.
If you have time, head to the local Archaeological Museum, where you will discover ancient collections and artifacts dating back to the Prehistoric era. You can also visit the Bologna National Gallery for your daily dose of art, home to world-famous pieces like Raphael’s Ecstasy of St. Cecilia and Titian’s Good Thief.
Top dishes and drinks you must try on your Bologna food tour
It’s time to move on to the highlight of your trip: a gastronomic tour exploring all the flavors the city has to offer. When you think of Bologna, you might end up visualizing a pale-colored sausage or spaghetti Bolognese. However, now is your chance to get rid of all your expectations and prepare for a surprise.
Here are some dishes you must taste during your stay in the Northern Italian city:
If you asked a local for food recommendations, chances are, they’ll tell you about one thing: the mortadella. Known as the King of Bologna, this sausage dish is savory at every bite, made with finely ground pork and cubes of pork fat. Some restaurants may even elevate their recipes with a dash of pistachios.
Mortadella works best in a sandwich with cheese, perfect as a late afternoon snack or a quick bite to fuel you throughout the morning.
- Tagliatelle al ragu
No Italian holiday would be complete without a plate of pasta or two. Don’t waste your time trying to look for an authentic rendition of your favorite spaghetti Bolognese. This dish may be popular outside of Italy, but the truth is that it’s not a part of traditional Bolognese cuisine.
Instead, taste one of Bologna’s famous tagliatelle al ragu. Made with long, flat ribbon pasta, celery, onion, carrots, and white wine, this local specialty has an intense flavor that you won’t stop thinking about even after going back home.
- Tortellini in brodo
You can never have too much pasta in Italy. Tortellini is another legendary Bolognese specialty, known for its buttery softness and amalgamation of various flavors. Authentic tortellini can be stuffed with just about anything you can imagine, from ricotta cheese to meat and vegetables.
But what if you’re looking for something much heartier and more comforting during the winter? Don’t worry—you can get tortellini in brodo instead. A unique take on classic tortellini, this dish submerges meat-filled pasta dumplings in broth and is served with grated Parmesan.
- Crescentine fritte
Need something appetizing to start your meal? Crescentine fritte would be a fantastic choice. Its puffy appearance and crispy texture will definitely have you craving more, and the secret is that the bread is fried in lard instead of oil.
For a more savory bite, you can top your Crescentine fritte off with gorgonzola cheese or a slice of cured meat.
- Balsamic vinegar
What makes Italian food so special? Local chefs and home cooks take great care in choosing their ingredients, always prioritizing freshness and quality. Not only that, but Italy has some of the most renowned dressings in the world, such as balsamico.
Balsamic vinegar hails from Modena, a neighboring province in Emilia-Romagna. Luckily, you don’t have to travel all the way to the city to try it. You’ll find it being used everywhere in Bologna to bring out the flavors in a salad or a slice of cheese.
There’s always room for dessert, and in Italy, one sweet treat is the favorite of locals and tourists alike: gelato. This frozen dessert is a much richer and denser version of regular ice cream, featuring delectable flavors such as pistachio, salted caramel, and mascarpone.
Of course, you shouldn’t forget to wash down everything you ate with a glass of Bologna’s well-loved beverages, including:
- Aperol spritz
Want to experience Bologna as if you were a local? Here’s a secret: don’t start dinner without a pre-meal drink. Known as aperitivo in Italian culture, this tradition is very much like Happy Hour back home.
One of the most commonly ordered drinks for aperitivo is the Aperol spritz, a carbonated and low-alcohol combination of Prosecco, Aperol, and sparkling mineral water. Don’t forget to enjoy a glass with a selection of crackers, meats, cheeses, and bread!
Are you looking for something a little stronger? You can’t go wrong with ordering a glass of Lambrusco. This fizzy red wine is almost always served cold, with a texture slightly similar to champagne.
If you’re not a fan of red wine, you can opt for rosé Lambrusco or white Lambrusco.
Can’t get through a day without your morning dose of caffeine? Italy takes its coffee seriously, and you’ll never run out of places to get espresso. On top of satisfying your much-needed coffee fix, espresso is an excellent finisher to a big meal, encouraging digestion and boosting your energy.
You’ll never spend a single day on an empty stomach when you’re in Italy. But to ensure your Bologna food tour covers all bases, don’t forget to book a trip with a certified tour provider.
The best tour operators in Italy can help you plan the holiday of a lifetime, offering a variety of package trips and personalization options to ensure the vacation is within your means.