A spritz in the heat
Just like Bologna's buildings are full of reddish-oranges, the Spritz echoes this too. It's also the favoured aperitivo amongst locals in Northern Italy.
Refreshing and light - the Spritz
It's the aperitivo of choice - and the Italians do love a good aperitivo… They're also really rather partial to a good digestivo too. In a country where food is worshipped, it's no surprise they will have perfected the art of drinking and dining.
Aperol - lots of it!
And a Spritz is a great way to start your evening (or afternoon - why not, you're on holiday!). A cocktail made with Aperol, which is a liquor whose ingredients include bitter orange as well as a secret blend of herbs, it looks a little like Campari but with 11% alcohol content, it's much lighter. One of the locals I've befriended reckons the perfect Spritz is made with 3 parts Prosecco (or other sparkling wine), 2 parts Aperol and 1 part Soda water… with a slice of orange or lemon to finish.
If you're a big Campari fan, you could ask for a Campari Spritz. You'll find spritzes being served everywhere in Bologna - though I hear it's even more popular in the Venetian region, which is just an hour and a half north of Bologna. Regardless, it's super refreshing and on the right side of bitter for me.
I learned a new phrase in Bologna… mi piece molto! Which means I really like it.
When an aperitivo quickly becomes your dinner
The buffet for aperitivo time at Cabala Café. The place has a young vibe with lots of slick furniture, bright red walls and a minimal dance sound (or at least, it did when we were there)
I do love this whole snacking thing with your drinks that countries like Spain and Italy do so well. In Bologna, you'll find the optimum aperitvo time is between 6pm and 9pm where lots of restaurants and bars provide a buffet that you can help yourself at with a small additional surcharge. We went to Cabala Café just a short walk from Piazza Maggiore where we had a glass of Sangiovese (wine also makes a great aperitivo!) and for an additional €1, we could help ourselves to the buffet. As you can see from the above food, this ain't no ordinary snack-a-thon with your drink. There were olives, crisps and peanuts but also cous cous, pasta, bread, salads, sausages… basically a really wide range of food!
Cabala Café Strada Maggiore, 10 Bologna
Or try a BYOF aperitivo
Via Draperie in Bologna
With so many fantastic delicatessens selling delicious produce from the region, why not go for a Bring Your Own Food aperitivo.
Head to the Quadrilitero District where fantastic delicatessens like Tamburini (you can eat here too…) line narrow streets such as Via Draperie and Via Pescherie Vecchi. It not only makes for a great wander but the perfect place to pick up some amazing food (Bologna is the unofficial culinary capital of Italy after all!)
Osteria del Sole
Once you've done that, head to local watering hole, Osteria del Sole also in the Quadriletero District and pull up a pew (try and get there a little earlier, it gets rammed quickly) on one of the long tables. They only serve drinks here (and sadly only until 9pm and 10pm on fridays and saturdays) but you're more than welcome to bring out your own food to enjoy. It's a place you'll be able to thoroughly soak up the atmosphere of an old school Bolognese tavern - it's been around since 1465! You could go for lunch too, the place opens from 10.30am. It would make a great place for an indoor picnic when it's raining.
Tamburini Via Caprarie, 1 40124 Bologna www.tamburini.com Osteria del Sole Vicolo Ranocchi 1/D - just off via Orefici www.osteriadelsole.it (in Italian)
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