Day 14 – Bologna

Nicknamed ‘la grassa’ or ‘the fat one’, Bologna is home to the richest and most indulgent dishes and is considered to be the gastronomic capital of Italy

Bologna is the capital city of the wider Emilia-Romagna region, famed for its invention of Parmigiana Reggiano, Prosciutto, Traditional Balsamic Vinegar & Lambrusco wine. Nicknamed ‘la grassa’ or ‘the fat one’, Bologna is home to the richest and most indulgent dishes and is considered to be the gastronomic capital of Italy so is a vital stop on our foodie tour. Bologna itself invented the classic bolognese sauce, known here as ‘ragu’, fresh egg pastas such as tortellini and a variety of sausages. Bologna is also hugely popular with students and home to the oldest university in the world.
After quite an indulgent couples of days in Florence and we found ourselves having to make some serious packing sacrifices and craving a salad before our train to Bologna. We found a little bistro and had a wonderful lunch of chicken caesar salad and seared salmon, mango and avocado salad, both with a dry glass of Pinot Grigio.

Considering its reputation, we were surprised to find that there actually aren’t that many restaurants in Bologna. Most likely due to the high student population and lack of major tourist sights, most of Bologna’s restaurants are exceptionally cheap trattorias & osterias, tucked away in the backstreets away from the main piazza. There’s also a significant number of bars serving aperitivo buffets, with the food often included in the price of the drinks after around 7:30pm.

We headed to for dinner at Osteria dell’Orsa, a pub like eatery packed full of locals and students (& dogs!), located in the heart of the university district. They have a tiny daily dinner menu which alway features the classic tagliatelle al ragu, but is primarily based on the fresh ingredients they’ve got in that day. We of course had to try the tagliatelle, which was absolutely incredible and only €6! Their bolognese is much simpler than the British kind and had a superior, meatier flavour because it’s not masked by strong vegetables such as celery and carrots and is cooked slowly over a longer period of time. The texture of the fresh tagliatelle means that the sauce clings to the pasta really well too. Any left over sauce was delicious mopped up with some fresh bread. The draft beer which came in little steins was cheap and pleasantly hoppy compared to your standard lager. For dessert we shared a huge chocolate tort which was beautifully rich and unbelievably moist 😍 – my favourite dessert of the trip so far. We managed to get the two pastas, beers, bread, water and dessert for just €24! Outstanding food and the cheapest we’ve found anywhere in the whole of Italy. If you go to Bologna you have to try this place.

Excited to be going on our Food Experience day tomorrow including tours of Parmigiana Reggiano, prosciutto and balsamic vinegar factories, as well as all the free food and wine we can eat 🍴🧀🍷.

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