Bologna in a bitesize

Bologna is a harmonious medieval medley

On our honeymoon, Yohan and I promised each other that we would try and do a few more weekend trips away to Europe. So for Yohan’s birthday I decided to surprise him with a weekend away to his favourite pasta dish; Bologna(aise). Nestled between Modena (home of Balsalmic) and Palma (home of Parma cheese and ham), it is easy to see why Bologna gets nicknamed the food capital of Italy.

Getting there

We flew Business class with British airways, finally!! I have been collecting Avios points with my credit card since I was 18 and am now reaping the benefits of air miles. Flying Business class in Europe is pretty much the same as flying economy. But you do get the added benefits of; 

Terminal 5 Business Lounge.
We lazed on the comfy sofa, and helped ourselves to the free breakfast, wine and magazines.

An extra seat 
This is lodged between you and the person next to you, and can be used as a table.(Not that great)AND Champagne on the plane! Needs no explanatio


We stayed at the Casa Bertogni, a boutique hotel with a playful, creative décor that blends antique and contemporary design somehow! Although there were some questionable design choices, like a mirror and disco lights above your bed.

The staff were super friendly and they are on hand with a list that was about 10 pages long of all the great food places for you to visit when in Bologna. It is situated in the old distric close to the University, and we found we were within walking distance of everything, so 10/10 for location.

Daytrip to Modena

After checking in, we walked the 15 min from our hotel to the train station, and picked up a ticket for around €4 to go to Modena. The train took roughly 26 min, and was a comfortable ride that puts our Southwest trains to shame.

Balsamic Tour

I had arranged for a Balsamic tasting at Villa San Donnino, a Traditional Balsamic Vinegar Company, that is over a 100 years old. The tour is free and is a great insight into the traditional method of creating Modena Balsamic (be sure not to say vinegar). At the end of the tour you are of course offered the opportunity to buy the products, but we really didn’t feel pushed into it (we of course did buy some)

After our tour, we took a taxi back to Modena town centre, which is a beautiful old Italian city, that you may recognise from series 2 of Master of None, or Chef’s table. I had made reservations for dinner for 8pm, and seeing as it was only 5pm it meant we had a couple of hours to lap up Modena.

Eating at Osterio Francesco

This restaurant is ranked no. 2 in the world, and last year it was no.1, so getting a table wasn’t easy. Reservations open on the 1st of the month at 10am, 3 months before and as the restaurant only seats 30 people, bookings go in seconds!

We opted for the classic tasting menu, and accompanied it with the wine pairing. The food was delicious and every dish was a work of art. However I would say for the price we paid I felt that the service was lacking. Yohan and I actually came away feeling that they were irritated by us. To be fair we probably are quite irritating, but at least make us feel a little more at home. The whole reason I chose Osteria, was because we saw it on chef’s table. Massimo came across as such passionate and loveable guy, that I just assumed his restaurant would emanate him. Sadly it didn’t.

Back to Bologna

I had originally planned to stay in Modena, but after reading lots of reviews it seemed like Bologna would have more to offer us for a day. It was also closer to the airport, which means that we wouldn’t need to leave super early for our 11am flight the following day

Mercato Delle Erbe (herb market)

After shooting up an Espresso, we walked through the old University area of Bologna to make our way to Mercato delle erbe. Go to this market hungry and aim to get there at 12am just as the service is starting. The food market is in the centre, and round the sides you have some great restaurants that serve fresh food direct from the market. With so many choices, it seemed silly to only sit in one, so we decided to have a dish in each (now you see why I mention to go hungry).

To start: Pasta
Altro Bologna. Here we ordered the ragu and tagliatelli, with 2 glasses of red wine. It was simple and tasty, and we found it hard to leave

Main: Fish
Banco 32. I think this has to be one of my favourite places to eat in Bologna. Banco 32 is sat right next to the fish counter. The few tables are just in front of the market’s fish stall where the french chef chooses everyday the best fish to cook. We ordered the stuffed squid and accompanied this with a glass of prosseco. Then the guy next ordered a tuna carpaccio and glass of white. Not wanting to feel Fomo, we decided to order the same. 

Snack: Pizza
After 3 glasses of wine and 3 dish’s, we were starting to feel a little tipsy, so thought it may be good to soak up some alcohol and move to last corner of the market for pizza. This is served on Foccacia, and they cook/heat it up in front of you. It was so hard to choose one flavour that we ended up eating 2.

Desert: Gelato
We thought that we had finished, but as we were leaving the market we saw a the Oggi Gelato shop, and I thought you can’t come to Bologna and not have fresh Gelato. We ordered one cup with a tirimsu and dark chocolate flavour. I actually don’t think I have ever had gelato like this, it was so creamy and thick and it kept it’s consistency, even when melting

Teatro Comunale (Opera house) 

This is quite a grand and beautiful old building and for as little as€10 you can experience the ballet or opera. Do bear in mind that €10 is literally for the cheap seats. You are up in the roof It really is quite amazing but maybe not for people who are afraid of heights (like myself).

Finding the best pasta for dinner

Trattoria Anna
This feels like the kind of food a great Italian Mama would make. Anna actually is the chef, and you can see pictures of her and her team all round the restaurant rolling out large sheets of pasta by hand. The Tagliatelli was the thinnest and tastiest that I have ever had.

If fawlty towers owned a restaurant in Bologna, then this would be it. And I mean that in the best way. The decor looks like it hasn’t changed since the 70’s and all the chefs are dressed in white jackets and bow ties, and you can tell have been there since the 70’s too

Osteria del ol
We didn’t manage to get in here, because the que was too big. But if I go back to Bologna then I would definitely give this place a try, as we looked through the window and it all looked pretty delicious.

End note

We thoroughly enjoyed Bologna, and are already thinking about when we could go back for dinner. Seriously I would fly to Bologna just to eat! 

I have added all the places that I either visited or wanted to visit on Google Maps. But if you simply walk around you will find that you come across so many places to eat

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