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Book Bologna, Italy for jazz, food and wine

Book Bologna, Italy for jazz, food and wine

All of Italy is renowned for its wines and cuisine, and it has more UNESCO world heritage sites than any other country in the world resulting in it being a tourist destination for centuries. However, each city and village is distinctive and exceptional and each one deserves our undivided time and attention.
Bologna may not be at the top of destination lists; however, this large metropolitan city rewards visitors with a small-town sensibility and a series of wonderful memorable experiences. It is the largest city and capital of the Emilia-Romagna Region in Northern Italy and the 7th most populated local in Italy. The streets are cobble stone and the medieval architecture has not been altered in centuries.

Bologna La Grassa: Bologna the Fat (i.e., affluent and epicurean)

Bologna and Emilia-Romagna are recognized as the gastronomic capitals of Italy. It is home to Parmesan cheese, Prosciutto di Parma, Mortadella and Salumi, Balsamic vinegar, tortellini and lasagna; envision Tagliatelle with ragu and tortellini served in broth and, because the city is near well-regarded wineries, (vineyards include Pignoletto dei Colli Bolognesi, Lambrusco di Modena and Sangiovese di Roagna), delicious food and wine pairings are an integral part of the Bologna experience.


The food focus extends through to desserts and fave dei mori, multi-colored almond paste cookies are made for All Saints Day, jam filled ravioli cookies are served on Saint Joseph’s Day and sfrappole, a light and delicate fried pastry topped with powdered sugar is for sale at carnivals and festivals.  Bologna has the world’s only University of Gelato.

• Jazz, Dine, Wine

Vincenzo Cappelletti, Cantina Bentivoglio, Via Mascarella 4/b

Bologna is an important jazz center. If anyone needs a reason to visit this city, the Cantina Bentivoglio, a jazz-focused bar and gourmet dining experience can be that purpose. For over 25 years this location has held over 270 jazz nights each year. International jazz legends have performed at this grotto – like city-center location and includes Paolo Fresu, Entrico Rava and George Cables. Built inside the wine cellars of Palazzo Bentivoglio, the jazz club/restaurant offers an outstanding wine list in addition to epicure-level dining opportunities.

The restaurant features freshly made pasta and classes are available. It is also a venue for groups with seating available for 260 guests.

Luisa uses eggs and flour to make fresh pasta at Cantina Bentivoglio

• All That Jazz

Bologna is proud of its jazz tradition (started in 1958) and the city has hosted Chet Baker, Duke Ellington, Ella Fitzgerald, Sarah Vaughan, Keith Jarrett and Miles Davis. The star quality of Herbie Hancock, Wayne Shorter, Stefano Bollani, Dave Holland, Cassandra Wilson, Sonny Rollins and the Manhattan Transfer have also performed at the event. The festival is held annually in November and theatres, clubs and restaurants schedule major performances each evening in Bologna and nearby cities. Jazz Festival information: www.bolognajazzfestival.com

• Gourmet Dining in a Small Space

Ristorante Serghei. Via Piella 12. Saverio Pasotti

The Pasotti family own and manage this tiny 30-seat restaurant that could easily be missed (and should not be overlooked). Located on the secret Canal Street in the University area of the city, Serghei is housed in the palazzo of the Piella family.  Although the ambiance is rustic and unpretentious the dining experience is memorable. The simple interior belies a complex kitchen where the menu includes tagliatelle with tomato and meat sauce, tortelli and tortelloni in broth, veal stew with potatoes, roast rabbit or rabbit alla cacciatora, stuffed zucchini, ricotta pudding, and semifreddo with Marscapone.

• Where to Sleep

Best Western San Donato Hotel. Via Ambrogio Magenta

With an excellent location in the city center of Bologna, the San Donato is surrounded by restaurants, bars and pastry shops and teams with college students. Placed inside the Malvasia Palace, an important historic building, the hotel is within walking distance of everything, while the roof top offers a fabulous view of the city. The hotel needs the magic wand of an interior designer to improve room ambiance and a creative chef in the kitchen to update the breakfast buffet, but the central location and kind staff offsets the deficiencies.

Grand Hotel Majestic Gia Baglioni (Leading Hotels of the World)

For visitors looking for an upmarket prestigious hotel in Bologna, the Grand Hotel is a perfect fit. Located on Via Indipendenza, it is within walking distance of Piazza Maggiore and Due Torri. The hotel was designed by architect Alfonso Torregiani at the beginning of the 18th century and built by order of Cardinal Prospero Lambertini who became Pope. The palazzo is built on top of an ancient Roman road and part of it can be viewed in the hotel. Art historians will appreciate the 16th century coffered ceilings found in the meeting rooms.


With 109 rooms that mix antiques with modern amenities, the hotel features the I Carracci restaurant with original frescoes. The property offers guests a large wine cellar to complement the traditional Italian regional menu. The hotel is noted for its Sunday Brunch.

Transportation to/from Bologna. Rail Europe

Thanks to Rail Europe, I arrived at the Bologna rail terminal from Milan – before I could even open a book (thanks to high-speed trains). I was immediately amazed – this is one of the most modern rail stations I have experienced throughout Europe (or the USA). The Bologna Central Station provides high speed trains to multiple destinations and in 30 minutes, travelers can reach Florence, or in 60 minutes visit Milan; add another 30 minutes, and visitors are in Venice. The rail system is also connected to almost all the cities and provinces of Emilia-Romagna.

Bologna Central Station is the 5th busiest rail station in Italy in terms of passenger movement (about 58 million passengers per year) and one of the most frequently used transit points along with the Rome Termini Station for the number of train movements per day (approximately 800).

The new train station opened in July 2008 and was designed by Andrea Maffei Architects Arata Isozaki & Associates, Ove Arup & Partners and M+T& Partners. The station features a very light and contemporary design with internal courtyards that enhance the interior lighting.

Helena Kyriakides, Yummy Italy. Via Lavino 336/1, Monte San Pietro

Travel with a Professional Local Tour Guide. Eatineraries

Thanks to the Internet and Google, it appears easy to select a destination and plan an itinerary for a fabulous holiday. In reality, the process is very complex. The time and effort devoted to the PLAN and the absence of a guarantee that the itinerary is feasible can lead to a real buzz-kill and an expensive time and money waster. Therefore, it is important to locate a local tour guide and work with the guide to plan a travel experience that will meet your personal wants and needs and not force you into visiting places and doing things that are absolutely of no interest to you – personally.

For a Bologna guide, Helena Kyriakides will meet/exceed your wishes and dreams. Her organization, Yummy Italy, is based in the Bologna hills. Prior to becoming an entrepreneur, Helena was the International Event Manager for Automoili Lamborghini and associated with Pret a Manager.

Yummy Italy designs “experiences” and foodies are able to meet artisans who work with environmentally and ethically sustainable breeding and production methods. From cooking classes with professional chefs and sfogline (professional pasta makes) she creates personalized programs for foreign chefs, food professionals and serious food/wine lovers. Wine in important to the Italians and Kyriakides, a qualified Sommelier, is able to introduce clients to the wines of the region that are unique and have a low global profile.

Kyriakides works closely with the Emilia-Romagna Tourist Board and Regional Wine Cellar hosting international press events. She is a member of the Italian Slow Food Association, a qualified FISAR Sommelier (Italian Federation of Sommeliers for the Restaurant and Catering Industry), and a Certified Parmigiano Reggiano and Aceto Balsamico Tradizionale taster. She is currently working toward her ONAF (National Organization of Cheese Tasters) diploma.

For additional information, visit yummy-italy.com and bolognawelcome.com

This copyright article may not be reproduced without written permission from the author. All photos © Elinor Garely.

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