When I finished high school all my friends from Arezzo planned to move to Bologna, London, Florence and Bologna, again. They wanted to move there because the city was known for being fun, livable, full of bars and other cool things to do. Also, in Bologna you could attend the so famous Dams University; although it may not be as prestigious as Bocconi University, it was a place attended by very creative and bizzarre students who would end up making movies in Rome or even in Hollywood.
Many friends of mine moved to Bologna indeed, where university can take a little longer than it should considering that its lifestyle is wild, free, creative and so, so extravagant.
Every time I have been to Bologna I had the time of my life.
I came back into town on a tour organized by Bologna Welcome. I have always seen Bologna as the tiny and most affordable version of Paris; a lively city which is not snob because it tries so hard not to be snob. A city full of interesting characters looking for their freedom and independence. Bologna is very accessible and comfortable.
Here people live in shared apartments just because they want to; they go out, drink and have fun, and it takes only a few minutes to meet new friends that will soon be part of your new family.
Beauty lies in the harmony of contrasts and Bologna is full of them.
In Piazza Maggiore you will find people talking about politics, while at the Earth Market people live in harmony and peace while they go shopping and buy fresh cheese and fish. If you go to San Michele in Bosco, instead, you will find people flirting and sharing love.
Thanks to Bologna Welcome I had the opportunity to explore Bologna like I have never explored it before; I have been on a tour made exactly to meet my needs, among engine shops and old stuff. So I am going to share my experience with you and I really hope that my information will be useful on your next trip to Bologna (especially if you like the same things that I like).
I am going to start from the hotel; I slept at Art Hotel Orologio, a great 3 starts hotel located in Piazza Maggiore. Excellent services and so many smiles wafting in the air.
Things you should know: besides being a pet friendly hotel, you will get a welcome kit upon arrival. More over, guests can use a free bike rental service. Love it.
Let’s talk about engines. I went to visit the Ducati Museum and Factory and I really really loved it.
The very first Ducati that has been made was a Ducati 60, four-stroke engine, 44 kilos and 99 km/hr. A motorbike that was clearly designed for women. Speaking of women, did you know that the 20% of Ducati employees are women?
The factory looks like a modern restaurant. All staff members wear a red t-shirt and everything is so clean and tidy. It is so interesting that you will feel like touching everything (nope, you can’t really do it, of course).
From Borgo Panigale all the way to Bologna and to Via Stalingrado, where Scrambler Ducati Food Factory opened its doors a few months ago. Two floors characterized by a very industrial taste where visitors can eat piadina and other local dishes typical of the Emilia Romagna region.
Here you will find free wi-fi (so you can also bring your laptop), USB plugs (yes, they are that cool), and a meeting room. Not to mention Scrambler bikes (sooner or later I will drive one myself).
Speaking of food, in Piazza Malpighi you will find a place named Osteria Bartolini. It opened its doors only 6 months ago and it is already full of a young (and less young) clientele – next to me I had two very interesting old men). I don’t know about you, but I love going to places where you can find people of different ages.
There is a lot of fried food and beyond, even if I highly suggest you to try the cod fish croquettes and the double fried fries (they are twice as good). Here you will find lots of fish dishes; maybe it is because of the fragrance wafting in the air, of maybe it is because the restaurant is blue; however, you will really feel like being on the beach.
Last but not least, Osteria Bartolini has another great value; its staff. Service here is just great and floor staff is always ready to listen to your needs.
Vetro is an amazing bistrot located in the heart of Giardini Margherita, offering delicious vegetarian dishes.
Its indoor ambient looks like a Pinterest photo, while in its outdoor gardens visitors can relax and enjoy their time. Do not miss the crunchy black risotto with beans puree and fried carrots.
Vetro is part of a wider project named Kilowatt which includes a bistrot, a co-working space, a kindergarden for 9 children – 5 of them are the sons and daughters of people who work in the co-working – and a meeting space. Outdoor spaces host a number of cultural events like Kw Summer that will take place from June to September. In a nutshell, if you guys are around you must just go.
I found this place by chance. To be honest when I first looked at it, it didn’t catch my attention, but then I must say that La Prosciutteria really made my day. Perfect atmosphere in style with The Nostalgic Traveller account and some really delicious food. I ordered a salad with olives and smoked burrata. It was sooo yummy.
Bologna is not Bologna without Le Sfogline. Located in via Belvedere, just across the Mercato delle Erbe, you will find two lovely ladies kneading, cooking, and feeding their clientele. I dare you not to spend hours hanging out with Daniela and Monica who are two great entertainers and big talkers. If you love tortellini, tortelloni and lasagne you can’t miss this place (there are also vegetarian lasagne). Leave some room for desert! (I had the rice cake). “Tomorrow we are flying to London for a show cooking”. Well done Le Sfogline!
It is time to talk about markets! Every saturday morning (on summer time the appointment is rescheduled to Monday night from 17.30 to 23.00), in Piazzetta Pasolini and Piazzetta Anna Magnani, the Earth Market (Mercato della Terra) takes place in collaboration with Fondazione Cineteca. The market hosts about 40 local farmers selling at fair prices some delicious fresh and local products.
The place used to be a former slaughterhouse, but nowadays you can buy anything you need; from toothpaste to edible flowers, tuna from Elba and fresh fish. If you care about knowing what you are eating this is the right place for you. If you are still not sure about it, you can check their Facebook page; a mix of products, genuine faces and so many smiles. There is also a kids area.
From food to old stuff; Santo Stefano market takes place every second Saturday and Sunday of the month. Here you can find amazing old tables from France, gold sticks, old jewelry, and most importantly a bunch of lovely elders to talk with.
If you love handcrafts you can’t miss these two addresses. Let’s start with Confezioni Paradiso, a small workshop that used to be located in Via Inferno (which means Hell Street and nope, I am not kidding), and that now moved to Strada Maggiore. Emanuela Paradiso – founder of the brand – makes timeless clothes and accessories. The perfect mix for those who live in harmony between past and present.
The second address is Efesti, located in via del Collegio di Spagna. An interesting example of how an online shop became offline and opened a temporary shop. Efesti is a small boutique where you can find fashion, art, and design. My thumb up goes to the great rings made by Marco La Motta made out of old movie frames.
And now let me share three vintage shops you can’t miss. The first one is Fratelli Broche, located in Via San Vitale. Here there is no space for knick knacks; you will find old clothes in great conditions – you can even rent clothes if you need to. At Friperie you will find a selection of items from the Forty to the Nineties, handmade accessories and even a tailor’s shop.
Last but not least, La Leonarda a small shop where you can find the outfit of your dreams for just 5 euro. Yes, I said five euro. I got a super skirt that I have been wanting for ages for just 8 euro. Not all clothes are in great conditions; some may have some little holes or tears, but they are so convenient that you can’t leave them there! And fixing them will be just as fun.