72 Hours in Bologna, the Emilia-Romagna Capital

72 hours in bologna

Ciao ragazzi! Happy Monday! Welcome to my fourth and final Italian travel offering for the foreseeable future: 72 Hours in Bologna, the Emilia-Romagna Capital. Fiancé & I love love LOVE all things Bologna, so I’m super excited to be sharing this guide with you! Bologna is one of our absolute favourite cities ever, and one that we frequently daydream about moving to. Our recent 72 hour visit was our first time back to the city since 2019 and I can’t tell you how good it felt to be back in the land of ragu! My face actually hurt on the first night from smiling so much – that’s how happy I was to be back! It’s just our place, you know? All of that is to say: we had a wonderful time in Bologna and I wrote this travel guide about it.

In case you missed it, other recent Italy posts include: Our Engagement in Bologna, Three Days in Florence, and A Week in San Donato in Poggio. As well as that, there are already two Bologna travel guides up here on the blog: Italian Adventures in Bologna and Bologna, A Love Letter. Fear not – this guide is filled with loads of new information and recommendations! Where to sleep / get coffee + pastries / eat lunch, dinner, gelato / drink / tourist, everything you need is below!

Enjoy!

72 hours in bologna
72 hours in Bologna


72 hours in Bologna
72 hours in Bologna

where we stayed

Because of the way our trip itinerary worked out, we actually ended up staying in two different spots during our time in Bologna. We flew in, spent one night in town, travelled onwards to Florence & San Donato in Poggio, and then returned for a couple more nights before flying home. Here’s where we stayed:

Casa Isolani // a great B&B option! We stayed here en route to Florence and it was perfect for our needs! It was literally a 1-minute walk from Piazza Maggiore, it was super clean, and they give you breakfast vouchers for a café around the corner. We somehow booked a room with two single beds, but, considering the 38°C weather, neither of us really minded.. Would recommend. Address: Via d’Azeglio, 1, 40125 Bologna

Albergo delle Drapperie // an old favourite that we love even more now – it’s where Fiancé proposed! This time around, we stayed in the Junior Suite and totally loved it! Beautiful dark wooden beams, spacious, with a very traditional Italian feel; it was so romantic – and I thought that even before we got engaged there! The hotel itself has a fabulous location in the middle of the Quadrilatero district, and the staff are extremely friendly and helpful. Read about our previous stay here. Would definitely recommend. Address: Via Drapperie, 5, 40124 Bologna

72 hours in Bologna
72 hours in Bologna

where we had coffee + pastries

Il Duca D’Amalfi // the café that Casa Isolani give breakfast vouchers for. I had blood orange juice and a crema croissant with my coffee, while Fiancé enjoyed blueberry juice and a plain croissant with his. Although the pastries aren’t as good as either option below, they’re still pastries! Address: Piazza de’ Celestini, 3a, 40123 Bologna

Eataly // great pastries! This was literally just around the corner from Albergo delle Drapperie, so we found ourselves stopping in here for pastries one morning. A crema croissant for me, and a crema bombolini for Fiancé – both were delicious! Address: Via degli Orefici, 19, 40126 Bologna

Caffè Zanarini // our favourite place for coffee & pastries – although the prices have risen a lot lately! I’m a sucker for their crema croissant, but basically every single pastry they make is fantastic. Pro tip: enjoy your breakfast ‘al banco’ to avoid the extortionate table service prices. That said, if you don’t mind the splurge, sitting outside under the umbrellas is the perfect people watching spot. (If you don’t mind pigeons.) Read more here or here. A must-visit. Address: Piazza Galvani, 1, 40124 Bologna

72 hours in Bologna
72 hours in Bologna

where we ate

Ahh, my favourite section: where we ate! I really wanted to try out some new-to-us places during this trip, and I think we did a pretty good job of finding some hidden gems. Naturally, we couldn’t visit Bologna without visiting a small number of our very favourites – but that just shows you how reliably great they are! No better endorsement for a restaurant than a repeat visitor – amiright?

Below is a list of everywhere we ate during our visit. I’ve divided it into lunch / dinner / gelato – the three main food groups in Italy 😉

72 hours in Bologna
72 hours in Bologna

lunch

Ruggine // an amazing little place! Recommended to us by a friend from Bologna, we whiled away a good few hours here one extremely hot day. There’s a very cool, hipster-ish vibe to the space – but don’t let that put you off. It was quite busy when we popped in, so we ended up sitting at the bar for lunch. I ordered the ragu and a glass of Albana, while Fiancé went for a pulled pork burger and Sans Souci lager; everything was delicious! After our meal, we decided to try a cocktail: I had an amazing margarita, and Fiancé had a very swish old fashioned with an ‘R’ branded into his ice-cube. Whether it stood for ‘Ruggine’ or ‘Rob’ we’ll never know, but either way – we loved everything! We actually went back the next day for a spritz, too! A must-visit. Address: Vicolo Alemagna, 2/C, 40125 Bologna

Osteria del Sole // warning: they do not serve food here. However, if you’re in Bologna for any period of time, going to OdS for a picnic lunch is a must! You bring your own food, buy a drink at the bar, and sit at one of the long communal tables with all the locals; there’s nothing better! This time ’round, we shopped for goodies in nearby Tamburini before meeting Fiancé’s parents here for lunch. The men drank Menabrea and us ladies drank pignoletto; it was lovely! Read more here or here. A must-visit. Address: Vicolo Ranocchi, 1/d, 40124 Bologna

72 hours in Bologna
72 hours in Bologna

dinner

Serghei // an old favourite that we just can’t not return to! Reliably wonderful every single time. This time around we went for two servings of gramigna alla salsiccia and an antipasto to share; yum! Read more here or here. A must-visit. Address: Via Piella, 12, 40126 Bologna

Giampi e Ceccio // another old fave. We returned here on the night of our engagement and it was wonderful. We both opted for the gramigna alla salsiccia to start, and then shared a tagliata steak with a side of patate al forno. Thinly sliced, perfectly pink steak, served with cherry tomatoes, rocket, and parmesan – it was divine! Read more here or here. Would recommend. Address: Via Farini, 31b, 40124 Bologna

Il Passatello di Bologna // a traditional Bolognese restaurant. I enjoyed a delicious starter of tortellini with butter & sage, while Fiancé devoured a superbly tall & many-layered lasagna. For mains, we shared a ‘tagliata steak with large salt’ and a side of roast potatoes; we were not disappointed! Pro tip: try to snag a table outside. We sat inside to avail of the AC, but it was missing the charm of the tables situated outside under the porticos. Would recommend. Address: Via Agamennone Zappoli, 5b, 40126 Bologna

La Taverna di Roberto // a surprisingly great Google maps find! I had gramigna alla salsiccia to start, Fiancé had ragu, and we shared a steak with a side of roasted potatoes and salad for mains. Spoiler alert: everything was phenomenal! Both of the pasta courses were by far the best of each we’d had during the whole trip, and that’s no easy feat! Our secondi was also divine – the potatoes were especially delicious, and, as a potato connoisseur, I take that statement very seriously. The only downside to our experience was extremely slow service; getting the attention of the waiters was hard and they seemed totally overwhelmed. That said, it could’ve been a freak busy night due to a bad thunder storm, so I’d give them another chance. Would definitely recommend. Address: Via S. Vitale, 9, 40125 Bologna

72 hours in Bologna
72 hours in bologna
72 hours in Bologna

gelato

Gelateria Galliera 49 // our favourite gelato of the trip! We both went for our tried and true favourites, pistachio & hazelnut, and were far from disappointed – they were amazing! Salty, creamy, smooth, and perfectly nutty. We’ll definitely will be back! A must-visit. Address: Via Galliera, 49b, 40121 Bologna

Cremeria la Vecchia Stalla // a really very good gelateria! I ordered pistachio and stracciatella – the pistachio was better – and Fiancé went rogue and ordered crema alla vecchia, which was surprisingly delicious! Each gelato came with a wafer/cookie-of-sorts stuck on top, which was a nice extra. Added bonus: it’s just around the corner from Ruggine, above – stop by for gelato after your lunch! Would recommend. Address: Via Santo Stefano, 14a, 40125 Bologna

72 hours in Bologna
72 hours in Bologna

where we drank

Enoteca Italiana // an old reliable. We stopped in here on our first night back in town and fell in love with it all over again. Sitting at the very same table we sat at on our first visit many moons ago, I had a Prosecco, and Fiancé had a spritz of sorts. *happy sigh*. Read more here. Would recommend. Address: Via Marsala, 2/b, 40126 Bologna

Camera A Sud // the cutest little bar! We popped in here for some after-dinner spritzes one night and it was so romantic! Outdoor tables with cutesy little lamps, fairy lights strung overhead, and just a generally chilled out atmosphere. Would recommend. Address: Via Valdonica, 5, 40126 Bologna

Pastis // a buzzy little cocktail spot. We stopped by on our engagement night and ordered two off-menu drinks: a whiskey sour for me + an old fashioned for Fiancé. While both were great and just what we were looking for, I don’t know if I’d return – it was a little too hip for us. Address: Via Belvedere, 7c, 40121 Bologna

Osteria del Sole // one more time for the people in the back: you simply cannot visit Bologna without stopping here! As well as our picnic lunch with Fiancé’s parents one day, we also stopped in here to toast our engagement right after the proposal! I had a Prosecco, Fiancé had a Menabrea, and I can’t think of anywhere else I would’ve rather gone to toast that special moment. A must-visit. Address: Vicolo Ranocchi, 1/d, 40124 Bologna

72 hours in Bologna
72 hours in Bologna

where we tourist-ed

I must confess, we kept our tourist-ing even lighter than usual on this visit – we were floating on a high after the engagement! Below are the two lightly touristy things we did:

Sanctuary of the Madonna di San Luca // a beautiful basilica overlooking Bologna! We chose to take the San Luca Express up from Piazza Maggiore, and honestly, that was half the fun! It was so touristy and embarrassing and just so! cute! However, if you’re up for a walk, the longest covered walkway in the world(!) connects the city to the basilica! It’s a lengthy 3.8km, with some steep inclines and a lot of steps, but apparently well worth it. The basilica itself is also so impressive – it’s bloody huge! Definitely worth a visit. Would recommend. Address: Via di San Luca, 36, 40135 Bologna

Bologna Film Festival // such a fantastic & free festival! Set up in the main square, Piazza Maggiore, anyone can take a seat or stand in the back to watch whatever movie they’re showing. We saw a couple of films during our visit: The Vampire of Dusseldorf, Nosferatu, and The Blues Brothers. They often have some very interesting speakers introducing the films; we watched John Landis talk about the making of The Blues Brothers, and one of my former colleagues saw Martin Scorsese intro a film here a few years back!

72 hours in Bologna
72 hours in Bologna

And there we have it: 72 Hours in Bologna, the Emilia-Romagna Capital! Have you been to Bologna? Do you love it as much as Fiancé & I do? It’s so hard not to! Let me know any thoughts or comments in the box below, I’d love to hear from you!

Happy travelling!

Vicki & Rob xo

related posts:

A Return to Westport, Ireland
A Long Weekend in Luxembourg
Eating & Drinking in Edinburgh, Scotland




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