What to Eat in One Day in Bologna: A Food Lover's Guide

Tortellini making bologna

You landed in the Italian food capital but you have only one day to spend there?

Don’t panic. It’s possible to get the best from Bologna in one day if you know how to mastermind distances, sightseeing and - of course - carbs.

Here’s my recipe to have the perfect day in Bologna: amazing food, a bit of culture and something unexpected.

9 am: Start with a king breakfast

A whole foodie day awaits you.
The temptation to skip breakfast can be strong but don’t fall into it.

Since Italians eat a little in the morning, it will take only a few minutes, but you’ll definitely need that energy!

There's a full post about the best breakfasts in Bologna with the addresses you shouldn’t miss.

My tip

Sit at the counter, order a cappuccino and a savory croissant (we call it “La Salata”). It’s light, fast and with enough butter to start the day with a big smile.

Espresso coffee for breakfast

Start your day with a good breakfast: coffee and brioche

10 am: Explore the food and culture around the markets

Bologna is the perfect city to spend all morning looking at the shops in the food markets.
Especially if you were wondering how many different ways pork can be cooked (Spoiler: soooo many).

Our Bologna food tours can save you time and bad taste, but if you prefer to go on your own walk around Mercato di Mezzo.
Beware the tourist traps that are blooming like porcini on a rainy October.

The medieval Piazza Maggiore, the two towers and the intricate complex of Basilica di Santo Stefano are just a few steps away from the mortadella.

My tip

Is it noon-ish?
Get inside the Basilica of San Petronio and see the longest sundial in Europe working.

It happens only at noon, but it has to be the astronomical noon.

12.30 am: Time to work hard, it's lunchtime

Make sure to take your time for lunch, it will probably be your most vivid memory.
The best way to experience the living culture of the town is to put your legs under a table, grip a fork and relax.

At Sfoglia Rina, the menu is written on a blackboard on the wall, and - apart from the very traditional unchangeable dishes - it’s renewed every week.
Pasta is the freshest you can have, and they pay special attention to the details.

My tip

Since you have one day, but unfortunately only one stomach, focus on the fab four:
1. Tortellini in brodo
2. Tortelloni with ricotta and parsley
3. Lasagne alla bolognese
4. Tagliatelle al ragù

Impossibile choice?

​Try one and learn to make the others during our cooking class in Bologna or take the faster route with the 1-hour Tortellini making class.

Because new cooking skills are the best souvenir you can get here.

Lunch at Sfoglia Rina

Lunch at Sfoglia Rina

2 pm: Meet the oldest and weirdest University

Bologna isn't only famous for tortellini.
The University here was established in 1088 and it’s the oldest in the Western world.

Palazzo dell’Archiginnasio had been its venue for almost three centuries. You can read the students’ names in the 6000 coat of arms painted on the walls, and try to guess which country in Europe they came from.

Don’t miss Teatro Anatomico on the first floor, with its wooden stands around the marble table for the human bodies dissections.

My tip

Dig into the weird old studying methods at Museo di Palazzo Poggi. Anatomical waxes, optical experiments and old maps will make your day.

Plus, it’s in the southern part of the city, so you can have a nice walk through the former Jewish ghetto to get there.

6 pm: Feel thirsty? Aperitivo can fix it

Too early to go to dinner, too late to visit anything else: it’s time to have aperitivo.

During the summertime, relax at Le Serre inside the city’s most lovely park: Giardini Margherita.

Besides the cool location, with trees and light bulbs everywhere, the menu is getting more and more interesting every year.
Plus, they have an exciting program of live music and new-wave cinema, a nice way to keep you thoughtfully entertained while you’re sipping your freshly minted Hugo.

When it's too cold to drink outside, MamBo (Bologna Museum of Modern Art) is one of the best aperitivo in Bologna.

My tip

Aperol Spritz is the king of aperitivo.
Craft beers, natural wines or a tailor-made cocktail work pretty well too.

One day in Bologna - Aperitivo at MamBo

Aperitivo at MamBo

8 pm: Dinner, music and night beauty

If you just one night in town, you should go for something really traditional.

At Cantina Bentivoglio, they kept the vibes of the old restaurants and the recipes of the grandmothers. Their tortellini in brodo is legendary.

After dessert, you could listen to some jazz music coming out of the cellars.
If it happens, stay and enjoy: their concerts are worth every penny.

My tip

Bologna is a perfect city to walk.
Its almost 40 km of porticoes will cradle you around.
​It’s even more fascinating at night when the red light turns on and the music comes out of the windows.

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