People on a food tour exploring Bologna, Italy

posted: 6/8/2023 | June 8, 2023

Bologna is considered one of the food capitals of Italy. And that's saying something, because, well, Italy is a separate source of food. The city has some of the most protected titles in the country and is fast becoming a center for food tourism.

And the food is what drew me to Bologna. I went there to eat. For years, I had 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 culinary tourism, I decided to register via Get Your Guide. These walks help you learn about an area's unique cuisine and history, all from locals who can advise you on the best places to eat.

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

There are many culinary tours on Get Your Guide. I go with 3 Hour Secret Food Tour because it has lots of positive reviews, is offered at lunchtime (during peak hunger), and seems to last a long time (worth your money).

How does it feel? Is it worth it? I'll tell you.

It started in the Piazza at Porta Ravegnana, where we got a traditional cake and an introduction to the tour. Afterwards, take a stroll through the live market of Via degli Orefici, an area which, despite being in the touristy part of town (right next to the main square), is still frequented by locals.

A small cake on the streets of Bologna, Italy

That's where we stopped at Osteria del Sole. This affordable wine bar was actually one that was recommended to me by a reader, well known for having been around for hundreds of years and letting people bring in outside food. It's very popular with the locals. I had actually stopped there the night before so it was interesting to come back and learn more about it. (In fact, many food tours stop there, so it's no secret.)

Our guide went across the street to get us a ton of meats and cheese from the shop across the street (since the wine bar had no food). We tried some mortadella, which is the most famous sausage from the region, as well as Parma ham, mild cheese, parmigiana cheese and one other variety I can't remember. We are off to a great start!

After that, we walked through a back street to a restaurant, where we had more traditional tortelloni and wine. There we learned the difference between tortelloni and tortellini—I honestly didn't know there was a difference. Turns out the former was made with cheese, herbs and vegetables, while the latter was filled with meat.

A plate of delicious pasta in Bologna, Italy

We also know that this region serves its pasta al dente (cooked just enough to maintain a slightly firm texture). I'm not a huge fan of that method, but that's because I grew up in a middle-class suburb and am used to overcooking pasta, but still, it's delicious. We tried another red wine and, as several on the tour don't drink, I happily finished their glass.

This is also where we actually sat down and chatted with our very knowledgeable guide. He had moved to Bologna over ten years ago and was passionate about the city's culinary scene. He's also nice to talk to about life in Bologna and the rise of tourism (he's not a big fan of Airbnb).

Visited the small shop as part of a tour in Bologna, Italy

Then we returned to the market from the start of the tour for a balsamic vinegar tasting. The closest Modena is That the place for balsamic vinegar, and no food tour is complete without some. We tried three: 5 year, 15 year, and 25 year. As balsamic ages, it becomes thicker and more flavorful. Personally, I like 15 years the most. It just has a better consistency and taste. I find 25 years too rich.

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

Is this the best food tour I've been on? No. That's pretty standard. And I felt like there was a lot of walking between stops — maybe if it was closer we could go more places. We also finished where we started, so it felt like it was going in circles.

But it gives me everything I want, even if it doesn'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 passionate about food. He's not going through the motions. He likes to eat!

So, if you want to book this culinary tour, click the link here.

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

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