Bologna, Beautiful Boutiques and Food To Die For!

I love surprises, and Bologna, the largest city of the Emilia-Romagna region in northern Italy was like a gorgeous gift you never expected to receive!

After having switched to Plan B after bad weather in Capri, 16 degrees Celsius and violent storms to be precise, we travelled north to skip the rain. Italotrain once again providing fast, warm and comfortable passage.

Bologna was our chosen destination, because we had wanted to visit this splendid ancient university town on our last trip 2 years ago and never made it. The university was founded in 1088 making it the oldest in the world.

Like a lot of unexpected things in life, they can be the best, and this city didn’t disappoint.  It is rich in its history, art, cuisine, music, and culture.

Known as “The Fat” due to the good food and excellent cooking, it was a feast for the eyes and the palate.

The traditional home of “bolognese”, known as “alla ragu” locally, it was so much more than a world famous spaghetti sauce!

Two towers, the tallest of twenty still standing, are located in the centre of the old town.

Asinelli is accessible to the public, and if you are willing and able, climb the 498 steps to the very top, you will be rewarded with a magnificent view of this wonderful city.

Terracotta abounds, and I think the warmth of this colour reflects beautifully the heart of Italy.

Bologna is off the tourist trail and although I can’t understand why, I’m secretly very pleased.

Sophisticated, stylish and savvy, the locals are friendly and obviously proud of their charming city.

As our plans changed so quickly, we were lucky enough to secure accommodation in a fantastic 1 bedroom apartment, 10 min walk from the old town courtesy of airbnb.

Our host Giulio was there waiting to meet us on arrival, and again, as a local, gave us great restaurant recommendations and tips.

Discovering our route to the heart of the old town had us walking past some of the best shopping in Italy.

I was in heaven!

That was for another day, and for now it was on to aperitivo at Bebi Bar with locals, then dinner at trattoria “Della Santa“.

Located at via Urbana 7/f, this tip didn’t miss. No menu turistica here, just hearty local fare.

Risotto parmigania and Cotolletto Milanese for me, raviolo alls ragu and cotolletto Bologna for Ross.

A good Sangeovesie to wash it all down and we knew we were in the right place.

Cotolletto is a veal cutlet. Milanese style is crumbed, while Bologna is topped with ham, then melted cheese.


The next day we did a walking tour of the old town.

Underneath the library, housing art nouveau ceilings, lie archaeological remains, on which the city stands today. These are accessible from the lower ground floor of the building and are well worth a look.

Another must see is the Basilica of San Dominico, a true treasure chest of Italian art. There is a marble shrine housing remains of the saint, decorated with precious statues by Pisano, dell’Arca and a young Michelangelo.

The fresh produce is bountiful.

Everywhere you look. wheels of parmesan, legs of proscuttio and rows of fresh pasta abound. Aperitivo at Gamberini was stunning. Super stylish locals meet and greet each other, armed to the teeth with designer shopping bags, fabulous!

Dinner for us was at “Osteria La Traviata“. A fantastic bottle of house red accompanied deep fried zucchini flowers and alla ragu to start.

Roast pork for Ross, fillet steak with fresh asparagus for me.

We were so full and said no to dessert, but they wouldn’t hear of it.

Out came fresh fruit with marscapone and limoncello to finish.

The Italians really know hospitality.

A romantic stroll home under the porticos that serve as protection from the elements, was a lovely way to finish the day.

Porticos are a focal point of Bolognas architecture and a wonderful and practical addition to this city.

Stay tuned for the story about them from Carolyn very soon.

Two must visit boutiques, are Tozzi and Tassinari, both on Via San Felice. Tozzi is fantastic for women’s gear with a rock’n’roll edge, while Tassinair stocks the most amazing shoes for guys and gals.

So amazing, my husband bought a stunning pair of Alberto Fasciani boots, hand made and oh so cool.

The women’s range is pretty special too!

All in all, Bologna was a wonderful way to end our grand tour of Italy.

We felt we had experienced some of the best this sublime country has to offer. As we all know, there is always more, but for now it is ciao Italia and grazie mille for the memories. Until next time.

Jo Bayley, Fashion Editor The Culture Concept Circle 2012

P.S. Carolyn already has a tale about Towers if you care to share click here


1 Comment

  • Gabriele says:

    I really enjoy articles about Bologna’s food, pasta, prosciutto, and restaurants, so thank for this addition. Great pictures too.

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