Weekend guide to Bologna, Italy: where to eat and drink

Local markets, mortadello and 'tree bark' chocolate make this Italian city a foodie hotspot. Your food and drink guide to Bologna, written by Sarah Lane, who has lived in Bologna for over 20 years.

Best for local atmosphere

Market stall holders have gathered to drink and put the world to rights at Osteria del Sole since 1465; nowadays they’re joined by students, tourists and professionals drawn to its old-time vibe and good wine.


Best for pizza

A beautifully converted market pavilion is home to Mercato di Mezzo (Via Francesco Rizzoli 9), the new hot spot at the heart of Bologna’s historic open-air food market. Here there are a dozen stalls serving local snacks. Head upstairs for the main event, a ricotta and mortadella pizza.

The cook school

TV chef Alessandra Spisni, who picked up her traditional style of Bolognese cooking from her grandmother, is partly responsible for the recent surge in popularity of handmade pasta. After a half-day course with lunch at her Vecchia Scuola Bolognese you’ll come away with some much-sharpened pasta skills.

The food tour

Book a mortadella tour with Davide Simoni of the Salumeria Simoni deli and you’ll be rewarded with an hour of culture and history focussed on Bologna’s famous sausage. Alternatively, buy a few slices from the deli to make your own panino filling.

Best for authentic cuisine

Tiny Trattoria Serghei (Via Piella 12, 00 39 51 233 533), one of the city’s temples of authentic Bolognese cuisine, hides behind an unassuming exterior. Inside the cosy wood-panelled interior, choose from specialities like tagliatelle al ragù, stuffed courgettes with meatballs and sautéed chicory.

Venture further

A favourite treat for the locals is a trip into the hills for fragrant crescentine (fried dough puffs) and tigelle (baked bread discs) served with cold meats and cheeses. Find them at the farmyard tables of Osteria Dal Nonno.

Sicilian influence

Mediterranean-style Da Maro offers a lighter alternative to Bologna’s meatheavy menus. Sicilian chef Cristian Salas creates dishes inspired by his native island. Try the spaghetti with mussels, clams, frigitelli peppers and tomato confit.

Best for chocolate

Italy’s first solid chocolate, the crinkly Scorza, which translates as ‘tree bark’, was made in 1832 by Bologna-based Majani. Another long-standing favourite worth stocking up on is the Fiat (€43/kilo) – a smooth and tender nutty flavoured chocolate commissioned in 1911 to mark the launch of the Fiat Tipo 4.

Photographs: Matt Munro/Lonely Planet Traveller, Fabio Baradi

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