Lost & Found: Bologna
8-10 December 2007

There is a good reason Bologna is known as 'Bologna the Fat' - the food is amazing everywhere you go! Here's a rundown of a 3 day eating marathon in this beautiful friendly city.

Eat at:

Where to start?

Gelateria Gianni - apparently the best gelati in town. However, we were unable to test this as the whole time we only ate gelati here because it was so good (3 times). I recommend the amazingly creamy (and award-winning) nut and chocolate-based flavours.

Drogheda della Rossa - One of my best-ever travel eating experiences.  It's a delightfully cosy restaurant in an old pharmacy filled with bric-a-brac, presided by its affable host, Emanuele Addone, and a favourite with the locals (and apparently celebrities, after checking out his website). There is no written menu - he reels off the primi piatti, secondi piatti and dolci for your selection, then picks a wine for you. 3 courses, a bottle of wine and water, great ambience = 80 euros for 2 people.

Fashion FM Cafe - unknown by tourists because it is at the back of a large Italian bookshop. The decor is an interesting mix of bordello/colonialist/S&M, the service is friendly and the lasagna alla bolognese (8 euro) and chocolate torte (3.50 euro) are amazing. The bookstore is also noteworthy because the room which sells computer equipment has wooden panelling and beautiful paintings on the ceiling.

Nicola's Ristorante Pizzeria - the best pizza I have ever had! I love Italian thin-crust pizza and the bases here have just the right amount of thinness to sturdiness ratio (no sogginess) and with the proper wood-fired (not charred) taste. The fresh pasta is also very good. Two pastas, a pizza, a beer and water = 30 euro.

Tucrocio Montegrappa - Again, great pizza and pasta served in an enclosed terrace restaurant and full of business people taking their lunch break and siesta. Two pastas, pizza, water 40 euros.

Drink at:

Everywhere there were genial bars and cafes doing 'apertivo' - pre-dinner drinks with nibbles like crostini, parmeggiano, prosciutto, olives. However, our stomachs didn't allow us to eat breakfast, lunch, gelati, dinner and apertivo every day, so we only tried it on the last night.

Badisco Bar - lovely small bar with a friendly host. With limited English, he worked out that I wanted a cocktail with sparkling, and out came a delicious prosecco cocktail. As we were leaving, he shared a little glass of another creamy cocktail concoction with us 'alla casa'. 1.5 cocktails before dinner? Yes, I was quite drunk. Beer, cocktail and apertivo 10 euros.

Shop at:

There are a multitude of salumeria and pasticceria along its medieval streets and if it hadn't been for Ryanair's luggage restrictions, I would have brought home a year's provisions of Italian food.

Roccati Cioccolato - a temple to chocolate. You can buy a selection of handmade chocolates, or if you're feeling extravagant, a tall chocolate Christmas tree or an enormous chocolate bauble inside a flocked velvet hatbox.

Magioca - Lovely homewares shop filled with gorgeous Christmas decorations and lovely scents. We bought a felt reindeer and angel decoration for 2 euro each.

Paolo Atti & Figli - They make their own panettone and the tortellini comes in their special wooden box, so I had no choice but to bring some home. Panettone 20 euro, pasta 33.50 euro a kilo.

La Vecchia Malga - a treasure cave of cheese, salami, pasta, pastries, oil, vinegar etc. I particularly liked the different tortelloni (big tortellini)  and bundled up a couple of boxes to take home (23 euro a kilo).

Tamburini - this historic deli is seemingly the home of pork and again had rows and rows of tempting homemade pasta. Darn luggage restrictions!

Gilberto - the ultimate chocolate and candy store. I bought a box of raviolini (a Bolognese specialty) and can confirm that the combination of crumbly almond pastry and fruit mince filling is absolutely delicious.

To Do:

You mean there are other things to do than to eat your way around town? You'll need the exercise after all the food.

Walking Tour - the tourist information run free guided tours if you stay at particular hotels (I assume expensive ones). For 13 euros per person, you can get a 2.5 hour guided tour with Carla, who took us around all the churches and porticos of Bologna, including some off-the-beaten-track locales.

Visit Basilica San Petronio - the fifth biggest church in the world and surprisingly plain inside for a Catholic church. There is an interesting sundial on the floor and the reason you can't take backpacks inside is because one of the chapel frescos depicts Mohammed in hell, and apparently some Muslims have threatened to destroy the church and the city in retaliation.

Walk the portico to San Luca - Bologna is a city of porticos and this is a long walk then uphill climb under a portico to the Basilica of Madonna di San Luca. The views of Bologna and the countryside are fantastic.

Climb up Torre Asignelli - Bologna has not one but two leaning towers, and you can climb the tallest one (400 + steps) to get a panoramic view of the city. Entry 3 euros.

Stay at:

Hotel Panorama - a good value hotel in a great location, just 3 minutes walk from Piazza Maggiore. The rooms are well heated, enormous (with handy basin), beds are comfortable with good linen and the bathrooms are scrupulously clean. Reception is friendly and helpful. Breakfast is included and simple: bread, jam, fruit, warm croissants, coffee/tea. 70 euros (double).

Gelateria Gianni: via Montegrappa, 11, Bologna

T: 051 233 008

Drogheda della Rosa: via Cartoleria 10, Bologna

T: 051 222 529

Nicola's Ristorante Pizzeria: Piazza San Martino, 9 Bologna

Fashion Cafe c/o Mondadori Multicenter: via d'Azeglio, 34/A, Bologna

T: 051 23 94 85

Tucrocio Montegrappa: via Montegrappa, 7/d

T: 051 224 871

Badisco Bar: via Oberdam 31/B, Bologna

Roccati Cioccolato: via Clavature 17/a, Bologna

T: 051 261 964

Magioca: via Sampieri 3/D, 40125 Bologna

T: 051 745 9015

Paolo Atti & Figli: via Caprarie 7, Bologna (also via Drapperie, 6)

T: 051 220 425

La Vecchia Malga: via Mazarini 93

T: 051 346 508

Tamburini: Via Caprarie 1, Bologna 40124,

T: 051 234 726

Gilberto: via Drapperi, 5, Bologna

T: 051 223 925

Carla Cesarani, English tour guide: via Valerianni, 39/2, 40134 Bologna

T: 051 436 557

Hotel Panorama, 1 via Livraghi, Bologna

T: 051 221 802