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My Experience Eating in Bologna

5 min read
My Experience Eating in Bologna

People on a food tour exploring Bologna, Italy
Posted: 6/8/2023 | June 8th, 2023

Bologna is considered one of the food capitals of Italy. And that’s saying something, because, well, Italy is a food capital in itself. The city has some of the most protected designations in the country and is fast become a center for culinary tourism.

And the food is what drew me to Bologna. I had gone there to eat. Over the years, I’d heard about it from all my friends, so, on my way from Prague to Rome, I decided to stop and see eat for myself.

But where to start?

As a fan of food tours, I decided to sign up for one via Get Your Guide. These walks help you learn about the unique cuisine of a region and its history, all from a local who can tell you about the best places to eat.

Get Your Guide is an activities and experience booking website. Name an experience and it has it. Think of it like Expedia but for tours and activities.

There are a lot of food tours in Get Your Guide. I went with the 3-Hour Secret Food Tour as it had a lot of positive reviews, was offered during lunch (at peak hunger), and seemed to last a long time (value for your money).

What was it like? Was it worth it? I’ll tell you.

It started at Piazza di Porta Ravegnana, where we got a traditional pastry and an introduction to the tour. After that, it was a walk through the markets right off Via degli Orefici, an area that, despite being in a touristy part of town (right next to the main square), is still frequented by locals.

A small pastry on the streets of Bologna, Italy

It was there that we stopped at Osteria del Sole. This affordable wine bar is in fact one that was recommended to me by a reader, famous for having been around for hundreds of years and for letting people bring in outside food. It’s very popular with locals. I had actually stopped there the night before so it was interesting to go back and learn more about it. (In fact, lots of food tours stop there, so it’s not exactly a secret.)

Our guide went across the street to get us a ton of meat and cheese from shop across the street (as the wine bar doesn’t have food). We tried some mortadella, which is the most famous sausage from the region, as well as Parma ham, a light cheese, parmigiana cheese, and one other type I can’t remember. We were off to a good start!

After that, we walked through the backstreets to a restaurant, where we had more wine and traditional tortelloni. There we learned the difference between tortelloni and tortellini — I honestly had no idea there was a difference. Turns out that the former is primarily made with cheeses, herbs, and vegetables, while the latter is filled with meat.

A tasty plate of pasta in Bologna, Italy

We also learned that this region serves its pasta al dente (cooked just enough to retain a somewhat firm texture). I’m not a huge fan of that method, but that’s because I grew up in middle-class suburbia and became accustomed to overcooked pasta, but nonetheless, it was great. We tried some more red wine and, since some on the tour didn’t drink, I happily finished off their glasses.

This was also where we really got to sit down and chat with our super knowledgeable guide. He had moved to Bologna over ten years ago and was really passionate about the city’s culinary scene. He was also good to talk to about life in Bologna and rising tourism (he was not a fan of Airbnb).

Visiting a small shop as part of a tour in Bologna, Italy

Then we went to back to the market from the beginning of the tour for a balsamic vinegar tasting. Nearby Modena is the spot for balsamic vinegar, and no food tour would be complete without some. We tried three: a 5 year, 15 year, and 25 year. As balsamic ages, it becomes thicker and a lot more flavorful. Personally, I liked the 15 year the best. It just had a better consistency and taste. I found the 25 year too rich.

After that it was time for gelato and goodbyes. (Frankly I think all goodbyes should involve gelato.)

Was this the best food tour I’ve gone on? No. It was pretty standard. And I felt there was a lot of walking between stops — maybe if they were closer together, we could have gone to more places. We also finished where we started, so it was kind of like going in a circle.

But it gave me everything I wanted, even if it didn’t blow me away.

I left full, and that is always the most important aspect of a food tour. Plus, our guide really knew what he was talking about and was super passionate about food. He wasn’t going through the motions. He loved to eat!

So, if you’re are looking to book this food tour, click the link here.

And if you want to see what others tours and activities you can book in Italy, this page has everything you need!

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