Having never been to Italy before my recent trip to Bologna was a fact-finding mission on everything that Italy, and Italian culture, have to offer for future visits.
I wasn’t sure what to expect from this lesser talked about Italian city but I’m a convert, Bologna is much more than an airport to fly into on your way elsewhere, there are so many things you must do in Bologna that booking a mini break here is a no brainer.
The flights are cheap (mine was under £70 return), the weather is good and the food is AMAZING…what more could you want! It’s also super quick to get from the airport into town (we pre-booked a transfer with Giacomo Colombo for €25) so makes for a great mini break destination.
5 Things You Must Do In Bologna
Relax – Of all the things you must do in Bologna, relax should be right at the top of the list. We stayed at Hotel Touring, which is a stunning little family run hotel in the heart of Bologna. From its beautifully decorated rooms to its rooftop bar and jacuzzi (summer months only) there is no better place to stay for a short break. We were treated with fresh coffee and warm pastries on arrival and I was pretty much sold from then on in. Add to this the fact that its only a 10 minute walk from the hotel to Piazza Maggiore, home to world’s fifth-largest basilica and a some seriously impressive Renaissance architecture, and that the chef makes homemade doughnuts at breakfast, there were points of my stay where I thought I may need leave.
Eat – When it comes to food Italians have it nailed. Everything is so fresh. Even the most simple of dishes are a treat for the senses. Bologna is famous for fresh Tortellini pasta and mortadella sausage, plus only a short drive away are the hills home to the finest producers of Parma ham, Parmigiano cheese, balsamic vinegar that Italy has to offer.
Lunch at Mercato di Mezzo, situated in the heart of Bologna’s food district, needs to be on your list of things you must do in Bologna. This food market/casual dining experience may be situated within the 19th century brickwork, but its offerings are thoroughly modern. We had a quick espresso and pastry stop here on our final day, but I do wish we had found it earlier in our stay as there was so much more on offer I wanted to try.
Dinner at Osteria De Poeti is up there at the top of things you must do in Bologna also. Their ravioli served with sage butter was one of the most delicious pasta dishes I have ever eaten.
Walk – One of the best things about our break to Bologna was how safe we felt. Walking along the old cobbled streets we were spoilt for choice when deciding where to explore first. With no real plan of action we took the relaxed option of letting this historically stunning Italian city wash over us. The architecture in Bologna is almost as delicious as the food. My personal highlight was the serene sanctuary I found within the Basilica of San Domenico, home to some early work from Michelangelo.
Cook – One of my very favourite things you must do in Bologna is a cookery lesson. Kate and I booked in with the Culinary Institute of Bologna for a 2 hour pasta making workshop (more about the actual lesson another time) and throughly enjoyed both the cooking and the sampling of our creations over wine after class too.
Shop – Finally, no visit to Italy would be complete without a little shopping. Bologna offers great mix of both high street and boutique stores, some wonderfully fresh produce markets and the best chocolate shops you ever will find.
Do you have any other ideas of things you must do in Bologna? I’d love to try them out when I visit again!
Thanks to Hotel Touring for having us as your guests – I cannot wait to return.