Aperitivo a Bologna 2023: The Ultimate Guide
by Coco Tran On October 25, 2023
As someone who has visited Italy and fallen in love with its food, drink and culture, I wanted to share my extensive research on one of my favorite Italian traditions – aperitivo a bologna in the vibrant city of Bologna.
Aperitivo is an ingrained part of daily life in Italy. It’s a ritual that brings people together to unwind after a day’s work over a drink and light snacks before dinner. And there’s no better place to experience it than Bologna, a city famed for its incredible food and drink scene.
In this complete guide, you’ll discover everything you need to know to enjoy the best aperitivo spots Bologna has to offer in 2023.
Aperitivo a Bologna: The Ultimate Guide
Here’s what I’ll cover:
In This Article: Table of Contents
What is Aperitivo in Bologna?
Aperitivo, often shortened to aperitivo, is an Italian tradition that usually takes place in the early evening before dinner. It involves enjoying a drink alongside a buffet of small bites and snacks.
In Bologna, aperitivo is deeply ingrained into the local way of life. It’s a chance for locals to unwind and socialize after a long day, catch up with friends or colleagues and prepare their appetites for the evening meal.
The most common aperitivo drinks in Bologna are:
- Spritz – Made with Aperol or Campari, prosecco and soda water. This classic Italian cocktail is extremely popular.
- Wine – Usually Italian wines like Lambrusco or Pignoletto. Wines are often served by the glass or pitcher.
- Beer – Craft beers are becoming increasingly popular during aperitivo.
- Vermouth – This aromatized wine makes a great aperitivo on its own or mixed into cocktails.
The food offered during aperitivo ranges from simple snacks like olives and chips to more substantial bites like freshly baked pizza, cured meats, cheese and bruschetta. Most spots offer an all-you-can-eat buffet with drinks costing around €6-10.
It’s a budget-friendly way to sample Bologna’s fabulous cuisine while enjoying a relaxed atmosphere.
When and Where to Have Aperitivo in Bologna
Aperitivo typically takes place between 6pm to 9pm, before locals sit down for a late dinner around 9:30pm. But some venues stretch it out longer, especially in summer when people stay out later.
Bologna has a thriving aperitivo scene across the city. Here are some of the best districts to bar hop:
This is where you’ll discover many of Bologna’s traditional aperitivo bars and cafes brimming with locals. Head to the Quadrilatero area wedged between Via Rizzoli and Via Ugo Bassi for a buzzing atmosphere amid medieval streets. Or try the Mercato delle Erbe, Bologna’s central covered market, which has several aperitivo options to pair with your market shopping.
Bologna is home to the oldest university in Europe, so its lively student population fuels a vibrant nightlife. The streets around Via Zamboni and Via delle Belle Arti are filled with casual osterias and trendy bars perfect for student budgets.
Just northeast of the city center, Bolognina has an edgy, up-and-coming vibe. Its multicultural community means you can try aperitivo with an ethnic twist. This neighborhood is cheaper than the historic center too.
For a hip, alternative aperitivo scene, head to Via del Pratello north of the center. Its dense concentration of artisan beer bars, pizzerias and street food make it popular with young locals.
Outskirts of Bologna
Venture beyond the city for a more chilled experience. Try garden wine bars in Corticella or aperitivo with a view in hilltop towns like Casalecchio di Reno. Many also have pools to cool off in!
Aperitivo in Bologna Etiquette
Now you know the basics, here are some tips on local aperitivo etiquette in Bologna:
- Aperitivo is casual and relaxed. No need to dress up fancy.
- Don’t take a table until you’ve ordered a drink. The price of your drink covers the buffet.
- Don’t be shy – help yourself to the buffet as much as you want once you’ve purchased a drink.
- Avoid filling up on too much buffet food – you’ll still want room for dinner later!
- Only one drink per person is required to access the buffet. But it’s fine to order more once done eating.
- Always pay for drinks first at the till – you’ll get a receipt to show staff before taking food.
- It’s customary to leave any tips in the tray on the bar rather than giving directly to staff.
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What to Eat and Drink During Aperitivo
Bologna takes its food and drink seriously, so expect quality over quantity when it comes to aperitivo spreads here.
Popular Aperitivo Bologna Drinks
Spritz – The iconic Italian apéritif. Order an Aperol Spritz in an orange hue or a Campari Spritz for a red bitter kick.
Wine – Emilia-Romagna wines like tangy Lambrusco and floral Pignoletto are ideal apéritif wines.
Beer – Craft beers are on the rise. Look for local breweries like Birra dell’Eremo or del Borgo.
Cocktails – Many bars craft excellent artisanal cocktails using Italian liqueurs and spirits.
Non-alcoholic – Juices, teas, and alcohol-free cocktails cater to non-drinkers. Crodino is a popular non-alcoholic aperitif.
Typical Aperitivo a Bologna Foods
- Pizza – Thin Roman-style pizza al taglio is a common sight during aperitivo.
- Focaccia – Fluffy flatbread topped with ingredients like cheese or veggies.
- Bruschetta – Grilled bread rubbed with garlic and topped with tomatoes, oils or other toppings.
- Affettati – Cured meats like mortadella and prosciutto.
- Formaggi – Cheeses like Parmesan and squacquerone.
- Frittate – Mini omelets and fried snacks.
- Pasticceria – Sweet bites like pastries, cookies and crostatas.
How Much Does Aperitivo in Bologna Cost?
The price of aperitivo varies across Bologna, but is generally good value. Here’s what to expect:
- Drink cost – €6-10 which often includes a buffet. Water is always free.
- Average cost per person – €10-15 for a drink and unlimited buffet food.
- Tipping – Not necessary but you can round up the bill or leave spare change.
- Peak times – Prices sometimes increase on weekends and evenings.
- What affects cost – Location, if there’s live music/events, fanciness of the venue.
- Making it cheaper – Have just 1 drink each rather than multiple rounds. Go earlier before any price rises later at night.
The Best Aperitivo in Bologna
Now for my picks of the top places to enjoy Bologna’s aperitivo culture in 2023!
Where: P.za Aldrovandi, 21b, 40125 Bologna BO, Italy
Ambience: unique bar serves up cocktails, wine & draft beer.
Highlights:Known for its generous and delicoius portions and upbeat atmosphere
Wonderful restaurant in the historic centre of Bologna. Everything we had, from the unfiltered beer, to the wine, to the delicious cold meat and cheese platter to the incredible skewered beef wrapped in crispy bacon was delicious. The only mistake we made was ordering too much food. Portions were extremely generous, so be warned.
bar senza nome
Where: Via Belvedere, 11b, 40121 Bologna BO, Italy
Ambience: unique bar serves up cocktails, wine & draft beer.
Highlights:Known for its hearing-impaired bartenders, this unique bar serves up cocktails, wine & draft beer.
This is the best place I’ve been to in Bologna! A good bottle of wine at 14€ and aperitivo at 2€ for each. It was very delicious and fresh, we ended up eating more than we planned to. The cocktail was good too. Cute place
Osteria del Sole
Where: Vicolo Ranocchi 1D, Bologna city center
Ambience: Classic neighborhood osteria
Highlights: Historic setting, very cheap
This rustic odesteria first opened in 1465, making it one of Bologna’s oldest taverns. Untouched by time, it has retained its laid-back local vibe. You can even bring your own food from home or the market to accompany the good, cheap wine sold here.
It gets busy quickly so arrive just before 6pm to grab one of the indoor wooden tables or barrels outside in the street. Then settle in for an evening watching locals chatter over carafes of red wine.
Mercato delle Erbe
Where: Via Ugo Bassi, Bologna city center
Ambience: Lively covered market
Highlights: Shop while you aperitivo, varied food stalls
For a fun aperitivo experience, head to this atmospheric covered market. The rear entrance on Via Belvedere opens at 6pm into a bustling square lined with food stalls and bars.
Deciding where to begin is tricky – do you start with wine and cheese at Vini e Sapuri? Cocktails at Bizarre bar? Or pizza slices at Mozzarella? There’s also classic cicchetti, vegetarian options and more so you’re spoiled for choice.
Camera a Sud
Where: Via Valdonica 5, University district
Ambience: Cozy wine bar
Highlights: Huge wine selection, bruschetta board
Away from the bustling center, this neighborhood enoteca is run by sommeliers passionate about Italian wines. They’ll eagerly guide you through the 300+ labels if you wish. Or just relax with a glass of Pignoletto or Franciacorta.
The buffet here is excellent – make sure to try the bruschetta sampler loaded with creative toppings. Roasted veggies, hams, salads and cheeses also feature. The lasagna is tasty too.
Where: Via Altabella, 14a, 40126 Bologna BO, Italy
Ambience: Lively pub with young crowd
Highlights: Bright & lively cafe/bar known for its long cocktail list, snacks & generous sharing platters.
For a hip aperitivo spot, visit this pub in buzzing Pratello. Zapap brews its own beers so sip one fresh from the tank as you browse the impressive menu.
Around 7pm they start serving portions of stuffed piadina flatbreads, foccacias and thick oven-baked pizzas. Wash it down with more craft beer in a fun, energetic environment.
Where: Piazza Galvani 1, city center
Ambience: Elegant bar with classy decor
Highlights: Upscale vibe, generous buffet
On the corner of Piazza Galvani, this refined café attracts a smarter local crowd. Inside it’s all chandeliers, marble and ornate wall panels for a luxurious feel. Sink into plush sofas with an expertly mixed cocktail in hand.
The aperitivo spread here is fantastic. Alongside Bolognese classics like mortadella and parmesan, you’ll discover gourmet mini quiches, seafood salads, antipasti and sweet bites. It costs a little more but feels like a treat.
Where: Piazza Aldrovandi 17, city center
Ambience: Elegant deli and wine shop
Highlights: Carefully curated wines and artisanal foods
For a refined aperitivo experience, visit this high-end delicatessen and wine shop. Owner Oscar Calzolari sources the best artisanal ingredients from Emilia-Romagna’s small producers.
Alongside an excellent wine and cocktail list, nibble on fine cheeses, salumi, mini vegetable tarts, smoked fish and other delightful bites. Expect knowledgeable staff guiding you through the changing daily offerings. Tuesdays also feature a jazz night.
Aperitivo Bologna 2023 with a View
While many aperitivo venues in Bologna are tucked away in atmospheric lanes, some spots showcase beautiful views worth discovering:
Serre dei Giardini Margherita
Overlooking Bologna’s largest central park, this cafe has an idyllic garden terrace perfect for summertime aperitivo. Sip an Aperol Spritz amidst flowers and fountains for a peaceful experience.
Camera a Sud
From the tables outside this cozy wine bar, you can gaze out at the lovely Piazza Santo Stefano just steps away. Soak up the ambience of one of Bologna’s most beautiful squares.
Situated north of the city center, this modern bar has a large outdoor deck with panoramic views over Bologna’s rooftops and beyond. Watch the sunset with a cocktail in hand.
Aperitivo by Season
Bologna’s aperitivo culture shifts throughout the year:
- In summer, people stay out late into the evening enjoying the warm weather. Outdoor garden bars become popular.
- In autumn and winter, cozy indoor venues with fireplaces thrive as people seek warmth. Hearty wines and seasonal treats feature.
- In spring, livelier street-side spots draw crowds as locals spill outside after winter hibernation.
Many bars adjust their menus and seating areas to suit each season. Check if blankets or heaters are provided in colder months!
History of Aperitivo a Bologna
The tradition of aperitivo in Italy emerged in the 19th century. Northern cities like Turin and Milan popularized the ritual of sipping bitter alcoholic drinks before meals to stimulate the appetite.
In Bologna, small wine bars and cafes started offering light accompanying snacks to become informal aperitivo venues. Friends and colleagues would gather to unwind, chat and prepare for evening dinner.
The practice exploded in popularity in the 1950s economic boom as disposable incomes rose. By the 1980s, the formula of cheap drink plus unlimited buffet food became widespread.
While remaining classic venues, today’s aperitivo scene encompasses everything from cool cocktail dens to gourmet deli bars. But the emphasis on community and sharing food remains at its heart.
Aperitivo a Bologna for All Diets
Bologna caters well for diverse dietary needs:
- Vegetarian/Vegan – Salad bars, cheese and veggie pizzas are common. Check for veggie-only spreads.
- Gluten-free – Many bars offer GF bread and focaccia options. Others have gluten-free snacks.
- Dairy-free – Look for vegan cheeses, vegetable platters, smoked fish and meat options.
- Allergies – If you have severe allergies, contact bars directly before visiting to check ingredients.
Don’t be afraid to ask staff about dietary offerings when you arrive. Bologna is food-friendly!
Getting Around for Aperitivo
Central Bologna is walkable, but public transport and taxis can help reach outskirts:
- Buses – Convenient network with routes between key areas. Buy tickets at kiosks or tobacco shops.
- Walking – Districts like Pratello and University are easily reached on foot from downtown. Just wear comfy shoes!
- Taxis – Affordable and plentiful taxis wait at main squares or call to pre-book one. Agree on a fare beforehand.
- Parking – Street parking is limited, so use paid underground parking near your destination if driving.
- Bologna Welcome Card – Gives free public transport access plus other discounts if staying multiple days.
Enjoy Aperitivo the Bolognese Way!
From buzzing local bars to swanky wine shops, I hope this guide gives you plenty of inspiration to experience authentic aperitivo in Bologna.
Spending an early evening drinking, eating, chatting and laughing with locals is an Italian tradition not to be missed.
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