Where to Eat and Drink in Bologna

Emilia Romagna is an Italian province, nestled between Milan, Florence, Venice and Genoa. It is actually two historical provinces, Emilia & Romagna, both with their own food & wine identity, but with common threads.

Home to Parma ham, parmsesan cheese & balsamic vinegar, and those are just the most famous ones that you have heard of, it is also the home of pasta, specifically tagliatelle with ragu, lasagne, tortelloni and tortellini in brodo. There are several local breads, gnocco fritto (called torta fritta in Parma), a fried puffed bread that you stuff with salami, and tigelle, small patterned breads traditionally made in stacks of heated round terracotta tiles, now in pans over a fire.

The capital, Bologna is a great city to start from. Easy on the eye, brown, orange and yellow buildings are lined with porticoes – arched walkways – which protect from the rain in winter and the sun in summer. It is a gorgeous bohemian city, the perfect size for a weekend exploring, and has much to offer in terms of trattorias, gelaterias and salumerias. It is a great base from which to explore the rest of  Emilia Romagna. Trains are reasonable and frequent, if you have a car, the countryside has lots to offer too and you would miss much if you didn’t explore it.

Lambrusco and Sangiovese are the most prolific local wines. Lambrusco, a gorgeous sparkling wine, whose reputation has sadly suffered due to lots of cheap imitators in our supermarkets. My favourites were the dry sparkling reds and rosés, some rich and thick, and others light and transparent. Lambrusco is the wine of Emilia, which is perfect for clearing the palate after the rich foods usually cooked in butter there. Sangiovese is more commonly found in Romagna, where olive oil is the cooking fat of choice. Both use lard too.

My focus in Bologna was tagliatelle with ragu (there is no such thing as spaghetti bolognese in Bologna), primarily, then tortellini in brodo and lasagne, both at home and in restaurants. After that gelato, aperetivo (a traditional drink at 6pm, how could I refuse?), and the local breads. Every local you speak to has a preference and strong opinion on all of these dishes. The Bolognese ragu tends to be very meaty and served with a toothsome homemade tagliatelle. Some prefer the pasta thin, but not me, I was to discover.[Read more]


A Postcard from Rimini (and Where to Eat)

I am holed up on the floor of a hot train in between carriages. There isn’t much space but I have managed to sit, curled. I can’t quite feel my legs and I am not all that bothered. I have had a great couple of days on an impromptu trip to the Emilia Romagna seaside town of Rimini, and it is cushioning me on the way home.


I had heard a lot about Rimini, little of it good. That it was a heavily touristed town and quite tacky. It is a beach town and I hate beach holidays too, although I adore the sea. When on holiday, I like to read (in the shade), mooch and wander, and explore the local food and wine scene.

But when I arrived in Bologna, locals started to tell me about the food culture in Rimini, that there were some great restaurants serving local specialities. That the centre of Rimini is an old Roman town. I had no plans for the weekend so I thought, why not? 1.5 hours on the train from Bologna and a €20 return ticket, seemed not too terrifying a gamble.


The sea air, how I miss it. It is different here to my sea air at home, all warm and gentle. Where I grew up, on the Atlantic coast in southern Ireland, the air in winter is like a constant exfoliation. It can be harsh and it is certainly direct. Here it is soft and clear, reflecting the gentle lull of the Adriatic. [Read more]


Pellegrino Artusi & A Recipe for Perfect Pasta Dough (Photo Illustrated)

Pellegrino Artusi, Casa Artusi, The Art of Cooking Well in Forlimpopoli & A Recipe for Perfect Pasta Dough (Photo Illustrated)

Pellegrino Artusi is widely referred to as the father of Italian cuisine. Penning the first pan Italian cookbook, (self) published only 20 years after the unification of Italy in 1891 and in the language of the new unified Italy (which was the dialect of Florence), when he was 71.

Artusi’s cookbook, Science in the Kitchen and the Art of Eating Well, featured over 475 recipes gathered from Italian home cooks on his travels as a business man. 15 editions were published before he died 20 years later, with many further recipes added (finishing with 750).

Science in the Kitchen and the Art of Eating Well was predicted to be a commercial failure by Italian publishers at the time, and they refused to publish it, but it was a tremendous success. It has been in print since publication, and is in almost every Italian home. It has been translated into several languages also (it was translated to English in 1997). 200,000 copies were sold in his lifetime and many more in the 103 years since then.

(So, you know, the message being if you believe in something strongly enough, take a risk and make it happen. You never know, do you?)
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A Postcard from Parma and Torrechiara, Emilia Romagna

I have just come back from a gorgeous day. The sun shone, the sky was bright blue and was a perfect contrast to the rust brown and lighter buildings. I visited a Parmigiano Reggiano dairy and saw the whole process, I had a wonderful lunch (at a last minute destination – I am glad I made that decision!), and then I visited a prosciutto di parma producer. So far, so awesome.

I have been busy eating in Bologna, but I won’t share my list of where to eat here until the end of the trip, as there are many more eating days to go. As mentioned in my last post, you can follow everything as I go on social media which is a more immediate update. Do so by checking in on @eatlikeagirl on twitter and instagram, the Eat Like a Girl page on Facebook, and by following the hashtags#Blogville (twitter) and #InEmiliaRomagna (twitter) in all of those spaces too. I include restaurant names above the picture on instagram, which clicks through to a map too.

My day was split between Parma itself, just outside at the dairy and a few hours within for lunch and a wander. Then I went to Langhirano, home to the Parma ham producer I was visiting, and Torrechiara, which has a gorgeous 15th century castle overlooking. The castle was affected by the recent earthquake but they have done a wonderful job of restoring it. Many rooms are covered in stunning mythological 15th century frescoes, and the views are divine.

I went a bit crazy in the Parmigiano Reggiano dairy shop, but you all knew I would.


A parmigiano reggiano dairy. 1200l of fresh raw & unrefrigerated milk is in each copper and steel tub. Each tub makes 2 wheels of cheese if at capacity.

A parmigiano reggiano dairy. 1200l of fresh raw & unrefrigerated milk is in each copper and steel tub. Each tub makes 2 wheels of cheese if at capacity.

Cutting the cheese twins into two girl cheeses (if only one cheese is made in a tub it is called a boy) in the parmigiano reggiano dairy

Cutting the cheese twins into two girl cheeses (if only one cheese is made in a tub it is called a boy) in the parmigiano reggiano dairy

[Read more]


Blogville in Bologna & Emilia Romagna: An Eating, Drinking & Cooking Adventure

Bologna and Emilia Romagna await me tomorrow and I could not be more excited. Emilia Romagna is known as the bread basket of Italy, and is home to some of Italys most famous exports like parmesan cheese, parma ham and balsamic vinegar. Bologna itself is home to lasagne, tagliatelle with ragu, tortelloni and tortellini. I will be based in Bologna – and in an apartment, so I will also be able to cook – but I will also be travelling around and exploring the region.

Highlights, which you can follow by checking in on @eatlikeagirl on twitter and instagram, the Eat Like a Girl page on Facebook, and by following the hashtags #Blogville (twitter) and #InEmiliaRomagna (twitter) in all of those spaces too. I will be blogging in time, of course, but for a broader and more immediate spread, check in on social media. There will be a group of bloggers in Emilia Romagna using these hashtags, so you will get to see some quite diverse posts on the region.

Highlights are many, but I am most looking forward to a pasta cooking class in Bologna, a visit to Parma to explore parmesan cheese & parma ham, lunch at Osteria Francescana (Massimo Botturas restaurant, placed at no. 3 in the world on the San Pellegrino Worlds 50 Best Restaurants list) and the gelato university in Bologna. There is lots more planned, but I don’t want to spoil the fun by sharing it all now. It will be my first time in Bologna, so please send tips my way if you have been before. I cannot wait until I have my first bowl of pasta tomorrow.

This campaign was created and sponsored by the Emilia Romagna Tourist Board in partnership with  iambassador.  I maintain full editorial control of the content published, as always.