We know you. We know you love to eat and drink your way around a city - hence why this guide to things to do in Bologna is food-focused and brimming with delicious drink options (see what we did there). Because landmarks and the sights are just as important as that negroni you sipped while leaning against the ancient bar of some almost-forgotten speakeasy in New York or the maakouda you munched between browsing the stalls in the Marrakech medina.
You're a hungry traveller – both literally and figuratively. We get it. We also get – and fully encourage – the drive that nurtures the desire not to miss one drop, crumb or squidge of a good thing. Is there anything worse than dropping some dollar on a fantastic holiday in the city of your culinary dreams only to return home and realise that you accidentally missed out on visiting the restaurant, bar or street-food stop of the moment? The answer to that is no. Obviously. That's why we've gone full-blown expert mode and enlisted the professionals to help you on your merry drinking and dining-way.
This time around, our city guide comes straight from Matteo and Salvatore Aloe, the two brothers behind one of the best pizza places in London, Radio Alice. We spent a whole 24 hours with them, eating and drinking our way around all the best things to do in Bologna, just so that you could, too. So without further ado: welcome to our insider's guide to the very best things to do in Bologna. Buon appetito...
Things to do in Bologna: for foodies
Look familiar? Of course it does. The Aloe brother's pizzeria Berberè is the parent brand of the funky pizza company you lovely Londoners know and love. And if you weren't privy to this little titbit of information before, now you are: Radio Alice (of both Clapham and Hoxton) is the British version of an Italian great. And as you might expect, Berberè's sourdough pizza dough is similarly fermented for 24 hours, all the ingredients are organic and the interiors are just as stylish. There's only one difference – the fact that pizza, without fail, always tastes so much better in Italy. Yeah, we know. You're not going to want to skip out on this one.
Via Giuseppe Petroni, 9, 40126; berberepizza.it
You'd be forgiven for mistaking the sticker-clad entrance of this modern Italian restaurant for the front door of a skate shop or the door to student digs. Don't worry though, there are no skateboards to be found inside – just a rather gorgeous surfboard repurposed as one long communal table. Think the plush pink booths of the David Shrigley Gallery at Sketch meets the clean, refined interiors of Mr Lyan's Cub on Hoxton Street and you're almost there. As for food, Oltre specialises in Bolognese cuisine with a contemporary twist. Chef Daniele Bendanti has made his way around a number of notable Italian kitchens – including the two-Michelin-starred Arnolfo in Colle Val D'Elsa, Tuscany – and a meal by his hand will not disappoint. Choose from either the five-course tasting menu or go à la carte, but whichever way your meal takes you, make sure it involves at least a bite of bread flan with Bolognese sauce and a glass of the lambrusco di sorbara Falistra. It's one of the best things to do in Bologna, without a doubt.
B 1, Via Augusto Majani, 40122; oltrebologna.it
3. Cappello Rosso Hotel
The Cappello Rosso Hotel has been in the hospitality business for more than 600 years. But just because it's been welcoming guests since 1375 doesn't mean it's old and stuffy – far from it. Every room at the Cappello Rosso Hotel has been decorated by a different artist, making it one of the most interesting things to do in Bologna for art lovers. Will you get the JFK-themed room? What about one inspired by the solar system? Or how does laying your head down in a room filled with illustrations of plants sound? Sure, depending on what room you land, it might sometimes feel like you've stumbled into a child's bedroom. But since you're only a two minute walk from Piazza Maggiore, the Capello Rosso is pretty unbeatable when it comes to ease of access.
Via de' Fusari, 9, 40123; alcappellorosso.it
4. Simoni Laboratorio
Just off the Piazza Maggiore, Bologna's Via Pescherie Vecchie is packed with little shops stacked from floor to ceiling with parmesan, fresh pasta, mortadella and more. Prices are pretty similar across the board, so it doesn't matter which one you pop into, and you can't really go wrong. Our pick of the lot? Simoni Laboratorio, which doubles as both a wine bar and a traditional Italian deli.
Via Pescherie Vecchie, 3/b, 40124; salumeriasimoni.it
5. Mercato Delle Erbe
First built in 1910 and then rebuilt in 1949 after the war, Mercato Delle Erbe is Bologna's largest covered market, and it's recently undergone a facelift to bring it firmly into the 21st century. Whether you're there to stuff your suitcase or your face, you'll find plenty of fresh produce, a plethora of cheeses, meats and little pop-up restaurants galore at this market. What's more, it also just so happens to be around the corner from the aforementioned Oltre. Oh, what's that? The sound of a plan coming together? We thought so – and you are more than welcome. That's the last time you Google 'things to do in Bologna'...
ia Ugo Bassi, 25, 40121; mercatodelleerbe.eu
6. Cremeria Cavour Bologna
When in Italy, only the freshest gelato will do and, luckily for you, we have the inside scoop on where to head for the best in town. For more than ten years, Cremeria Cavour has been churning out gelato to tourists and the Bolognese alike. At any one time, there's at least 20 different flavours on the go – and that's not even including the 11 fresh fruit flavours or the six sets of granite on offer, too. Head to the arcades of Piazza Cavour to get your Cremeria Cavour fix.
Piazza Camillo Benso Conte di Cavour, 1/d/e, 40124; cremeriacavour.it
7. Osteria del Sole
It's been around since 1465, it makes its own pignoletto and it's a BYOS situation (Bring Your Own Snacks). What more could you ask for from Bologna's oldest osteria? If you manage to bag a table at Osteria del Sole, fantastic. If not, then there's much fun to be had mingling with the lively locals and university students out in the street. As long as there's wine, you'll be fine.
Vicolo Ranocchi, 1, 40124; italyproject365.com