Fly into Bologna for your City break, visit the vineyards in the Country and take a trip to the pristine Coast of the Adriatic in this, our first City, Coast, Country travel guide.
For this City Coast Country trip you’ll most likely fly into Bologna: a city that can proudly call itself the gastronomic epicentre of an already food-obsessed country.
The products that make this Italy’s favourite dinner destination are probably familiar. Spag Bol is a British take on the Ragu Alla Bolognese, a much richer meat sauce served with tagliatelle (don’t ask for it with spaghetti whatever you do…). Parma ham is from just down the road in (you guessed it) Parma, as is Parmesan cheese. Balsamic vinegar comes from Modena, just 20 minutes away by train - as does Massimo Bottura and Osteria Francescana (and, of course, the Thomas Clipper Modena Collection).
These culinary classics have international name recognition, but it’s another thing entirely to enjoy them in a traditional Bolognese restaurant. Trattoria Serghei (12, Via Piella), is a local favourite. It’s an intimate spot serving classics. Prepare to feel very welcome and (after a short time) extremely satisfied.
At the other end of the spectrum is Via Con Me (number 5, Via S. Gervasio). Near the revamped central market, the menu is inspired by a head chef who doesn’t realise he’s supposed to be in a culinarily conservative city.
Whilst the offering is in constant flux, the fish is always great, as are the raw meats - we had a delicious venison tartare last time we ate here, and a tuna with guacamole which offered the perfect compliment to an otherwise very meaty local repertoire.
Heading to the old market streets south of Piazza Maggiore, you can get lost in a mix of ancient narrow alleys, passing from gourmet delis, to fresh fish stalls, to high end retailers all within 100 yards of each other. If you’ve the energy try climbing the taller of the two towers that dominate the view from the centre of town.
On a clear day you’ll get a view of the beautiful hills to the south of the city and the Santuario di San Luca at the top of the longest uninterrupted portico in the world.
When you’re finished your walking tour you can expect a liquid reward from one of the many fantastic bars that are packed into the historic centre of the city.
The wines from this region aren’t as famous as the Tuscans or the Piemonte reds, but there are a more than enough delicious local varieties to keep you busy. Try whatever they’ve got open with a board of cheese at Camera A Sud (5, Via Valdonica), you’re bound to find a new favourite. Be warned though: often the local wines won’t be available at a supermarket closer to home.
You’ll have to come back…
For a taste of coast, we recommend giving the Adriatic a try, and there’s no better place to start than Sirolo. Expect clean deep seas, fresh air and a dramatic descent to a beautiful beach overlooking the Conero national park.
The walks in the area are fantastic, and after a long day hiking or enjoying the beach we recommend a 15 minute stroll to nearby Ristorantino Loscottadito Numana (Via Giacomo Leopardi, Numana). The seafood is fantastic, as you’d expect, and the service is extremely warm. La Torre is also great: it’s a few minutes walk away and worth it for the seaview. But for the quality of the meal, we think Loscottadito is a better bet.
COUNTRY: LEVIZZANO RANGONE
A walk in the vineyards near Bologna is a great way to work up an appetite for more delicious local specialities. The grasparossa vineyards near Levizzano Rangone are a good place to start.
You can walk from Castelvetro di Modena, take a quick diversion to the ancient Oratorio di San Michele, and end up at Osteria del Garò (54, Via Celestino Cavedoni) where you can enjoy a bottle of the local Lambrusco (a light red wine, sparkling and served cool) with some cured meats.
It’s a simple country meal that will leave you absolutely satisfied and ready to take on the walk back to Castelvetro di Modena (be warned: there are hills…).