In this post we’ve put together some of the best Day Trips From Bologna, an easy guide to get out and explore some of Italy’s most beautiful countryside and dare we say, it’s tastiest region.
“You may have the universe if I may have Italy” – Giuseppe Verdi
As a man who was born and bred in the Emilia Romagna region of Italy Verdi knew what he was talking about. Even people who have never been to Italy love Italy! But may we suggest getting off the well-worn tourist trails and discover what else Italy has to offer. We promise you, you won’t be disappointed!
Bologna (the capital of Emilia Romagna) is growing steadily in popularity with many TV shows like Rick Steves, Ugly Delicious (Netflix) and more featuring its vast history and culture. Bologna’s tourism has grown 50% in the past 3 years and yet it doesn’t feel like it’s bombarded with tourists. That’s what makes it the perfect location to base yourself and then go out and explore it’s surrounding cities and towns.
In this Day Trips from Bologna post, we’ve broken it into 3 different sections. Generally, we are all about the food – and trust us there is going to be LOADS of food suggestions, but what makes this region so great is that there is so much to offer not just foodies but also those looking for some serious fun and those that love getting lost in the history of Italy.
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Day Trips From Bologna For Foodies (Food Valley)
The region of Emilia Romagna is becoming well known around the world for its incredible selection of food. Some of the most world famous Italian products come from this region including Parma Ham Parmigiano, Reggiano (parmesan cheese) and balsamic vinegar. You may have even heard that the current Number 1 restaurant in the world is located in Modena….a city that is only a short drive from the capital of Bologna. (I swear we will get to eat there one day!!!)
We were once told that Bologna and Emilia Romagna is the belly button of Italy and you are about to see why….
Visit a Parma Ham Factory – Parma
Parma Ham also referred to as Prosciutto is a product that you are sure to have heard of and even possibly tried. There are a few regions that have their own version of cured ham but none are held in as high regarded as the Prosciutto di Parma PDO from the area of Parma, a city that is located a little over an hours drive from Bologna.
What makes this particular meat so special? The fact that it’s is held to the strictest of regulations to make it 100% Prosciutto di Parma PDO. Firstly they carry out a strict selection one by one and reject any meat that doesn’t meet the standard. They are salted by hand and there are no other additives. It’s just pork and salt nothing else! Once salted they are hung by a string and the unique microclimate of this region is left to do its thing. In this region, air comes from the sea, crosses the mountains, and collects fragrances of the surrounding woods like chestnuts, walnut etc. and this helps give the ham it’s unique flavours. When it is time, the cellar master will check each ham individually to make sure it is perfect to hold the Parma Ham seal.
If you love prosciutto – and who doesn’t! Going to the factory and learning about the process of making this world famous meat is 100% worthwhile – plus at the end, you can have a tasting experience where you get to try different aged hams and discover the unique flavours that make this meat so desirable.
Note: Tours are only available weekdays by reservation only
Culatello Experience – Zibello
If you really REALLY love ham then you need to step it up a notch and discover perhaps one of the tastiest cured meats I’ve ever tried. It’s called Culatello and it holds a very special place in the gastronomic history of Emilia Romagna.
While Culatello is a cured ham it is actually a salami rather than prosciutto due to the way the meat is cut. In fact, it’s one of Italy’s most prized salami’s and it’s history dates back to the 15th century in the city of Zibello. A city that is able to make this particular ham because of its unique fog that rolls off the Po River. It is also one of Emilia Romagna’s more expensive meats due to the craftsmanship, long aging time and the uniqueness of its flavour. But once you have had a mouthful of this delicious meat – it’s not an experience you will ever forget!
Zibello is not an easy place to get to without hiring a car and many tours begin on site. I believe Get Your Guide can help with transportation on request if you are wanting to do a day trip from Bologna.
Balsamic Museum – Spilamberto
Another famous export that you might not realize has its birthplace close to Bologna is balsamic vinegar. If you take a day trip from Bologna to the city of Spilamberto you can visit the Museo Del Balsamico Tradizionale – the Museum Of Traditional Balsamic Vinegar and learn all about its history and how it’s made.
For those of you not familiar with Balsamic Vinegar it’s intensely flavoured vinegar made from grape must, which is the freshly crushed grape juice. In Emilia Romagna the way that Balsamic Vinegar is made is protected for 3 varieties of vinegar “Aceto Balsamico Tradizionale di Modena” (Traditional Balsamic Vinegar of Modena), “Aceto Balsamico Tradizionale di Reggio Emilia” (Traditional Balsamic Vinegar of Reggio Emilia), and “Aceto Balsamico di Modena” (Balsamic Vinegar of Modena). But you can learn all about this at the museum….
The making of balsamic is a long family tradition in this region of Italy and learning about its origins is fascinating. Also, make sure you organize to have a taste test at the end so you can try the vinegar at different stages. It’s amazing what you can have balsamic with in Italy. Most people think of salad but here it’s popular with parmesan cheese, strawberries, and even ice cream!
Just remember that advanced booking is required to have a tasting of the Balsamic Vinegar which you can do by emailing here: email@example.com
Museo dell’Aceto Balsamico Tradizionale
Via Roncati, 28- 41057 Spilamberto (MO) – Italia
Tel. +39 059 781614
Casa Artusi – Forlimpopoli
In the small village of Forlimpopoli is a place that lives in the hearts of locals and that place is called Casa Artusi. Back in 1891, a man named Pellegrino Artusi published a book, the first book of it’s kind in Italy. A book that today is seen as the Bible of Italian Home Cooking.
Artusi was not a chef but a lover of good food and he spent many years travelling into peoples homes and discovering ancient recipes from all around Italy that had not been documented. Artusi in 1891 published the first ever Italian Cook Book with 400+ recipes, this book is known in English as “the science in the kitchen and the art of eating well”. Not only was it a huge success in Italy with over 15 more editions being released (they had over 900+ recipes by the final edition), but it has also been translated into English, French, German, Dutch, Spanish, Portuguese and Russian.
Casa Artusi stands today in the city where Pellegrino Artusi was born and is the first centre of gastronomic culture to be established, devoted entirely to Italian home cookery. On the grounds, you can find a library with an extensive collection of books, magazines, films and other multimedia documents on food culture, in particular with a focus on home cooking. There is also a small area where some of Artusi’s possessions are on display.
Aside from the library, there is also a famous cooking school and restaurant on the grounds. The cooking school is open both for food lovers aiming to improve their cooking ability, and professionals wanting to better their skills. And if you make special arrangements in advance you too can have the chance to learn some Italian cooking skills in this kitchen. Classes are generally held in Italian but they can organize demonstrations and classes in English for visitors. Or if you are happy to sit back and let someone else do the cooking Casa Artusi Restaurant serves home cooking at it’s very best.
Address: Casa Artusi Via A. Costa 23/27 – 47034 Forlimpopoli (FC)
Telephone: +39 0543 743138
Go Truffle & Mushroom Hunting
Sadly this isn’t a day trip from Bologna that you can do all year round. But if you happen to be in Emilia Romagna in October / November and you loooove mushrooms, in particular, porcini mushrooms, and truffles, then going out on a hunt is an absolute must!
Truffle and mushroom hunting is such an important event of the year they even have a festival called Tartufesta in the city of Sasso Marconi. The website proclaims: “the white truffle will be the undisputed king of the festival with all its court: chestnuts, mushrooms, cheeses, cold cuts, honey, mountain desserts, wine, extra virgin olive oil of Sasso’s hills.”….sounds tasty hey?
Visit a Lambrusco Vineyard
Now before you snicker at us and accuse us of knowing nothing about wine if we drink Lambrusco….wait a second! If you haven’t tried real Italian Lambrusco (not what they sell at Walmart for less than $5) then you haven’t lived!!!
The grapes that make Lambrusco hail from the Emilia Romagna region, in particular, the central provinces of Modena, Parma, Reggio nell’Emilia, and Mantua and have been cultivated into wine since about 700 BC. So they’ve perfected the making of this fizzy and refreshing drink. The big secret is that they are keeping all of the good stuff for themselves. In fact, it’s often said that a white sparkling wine is best to have with Parma ham as the flavour doesn’t take away from the smells and flavour of the ham and the bubbles help remove the fat. So there’s that!
Give it a try – you’ll be pleasantly surprised how amazing it tastes!
“Parmigiano is not cheese….It exists on a different level.”
– quote by Elena our tour guide
It’s now time for a product that is referred to as the “King of Cheese and the Cheese of Kings! It is, of course, Parmigiano Reggiano also known as Parmesan Cheese. If you are planning any day trip from Bologna it MUST include a visit to one of the Parmigiano Reggiano factories to see exactly how this exquisite cheese is made.
A few Facts on Parmigiano Reggiano:
- The cheese was originally made 900 years ago by monks
- It’s made from all natural ingredients with no additives and all made by hand….which makes them expensive, and unique. In fact, a wheel costs around 500 euro.
- Young Parmigiano Reggiano contains lactose but if you eat the aged cheese (24 months+) it no longer contains lactose so it is possible for those with allergies to consume
- In each cheese factory, there is one cheese master who lives on site
- Parmigiana factories run 7 days a week
During the factory visit, you get to see every single step of how the cheese is made and learn all about what it takes to make the famous cheese. At the end, of course, is the best part – the cheese tasting where you can try the cheese at various stages of aging.
To book a tour contact: firstname.lastname@example.org or head here https://www.parmigianoreggiano.com/where/guided_tours_dairies_1/default.aspx
They can arrange visits to factories based on what area you a visiting. Contact one week before to make bookings.
Or you can book an organized 1/2 Day Trip from Bologna HERE
Day Trips From Bologna For Rev Heads (Motor Valley)
“Race cars are neither beautiful nor ugly. They become beautiful when they win.” – Enzo Ferrari
Emilia Romagna isn’t just about food…turns out they are adrenaline junkies as well with some of the world’s leading motorsport brands proudly hailing from this region. Famous luxury and racing brands like Ferrari, Lamborghini, Maserati, and Ducati all were created and are still today manufactured in this region! If you like to think of yourself as a bit of a rev head – there are plenty of day trips from Bologna that allow you to get up close to these famous brands.
Ferrari Museum – Modena
Discover the life and works of the one and only Enzo Ferrari. Not only can you view stunning cars from today and days gone by, but there is an audiovisual show that tells the 90 year story of the life of Enzo Ferrari. There is also another Ferrari museum in Maranello you can visit and regular shuttles run between the two museums. At the Maranello museum, you can sit in the cockpit of a semi-professional Formula 1 simulator and experience the thrills of driving a race car for yourself!
Feel The Need For Speed???
Want to actually have a Ferrari Driving Experience? You can do this not far from Bologna and have the chance to race around a real race track in a Ferrari F430. More Information is available HERE
Maserati (Panini Motor Museum) – Modena
Maserati was founded in Bologna in 1914 by Alfieri Maserati as a car repair workshop and was turned into a small car racing manufacturer in 1926 and the rest is history. This small car repair shop has grown into one of the worlds most respected car manufacturers. At the museum, you can view 23 classic cars, which are regularly on display, and 3 vehicles which are undergoing restoration and they also have a collection of vintage motorbikes as well.
Visiting the collection for groups is possible only by reservation and with the accompaniment of a guide. For individual visitors or family groups (max 5 persons) visits are allowed without a guide but you need authorization to visit. You can request a visit by sending an e-mail at email@example.com. Please be aware of this when planning your day trip from Bologna to the museum.
National Motorcycle Museum – Rimini
Head to the seaside town of Rimini to discover this national museum that has been open to the public since 1933. Over 250 bikes from 55 different brands are on display and retrace the history of two-wheeled vehicles in Italy. The museum features motorbikes made all the way back at the end of the 1800s and at the beginning of the 1900s. It also has sidecars, a bike belonging to the artist Antonio Ligabue and prototypes from the likes of Ducati, Harley Davidson, and more.
In the summer (April-October) the museum is open every day. In the winter (Nov-May) it is open only by reservation for at least 10 people.
Lamborghini Museum – Sant’Agata Bolognese
Take a trip out to learn about the fascinating history of Lamborghini. If you don’t know the story of how Lamborghini started making luxury cars – you need to find it out! It’s a great tale! At the museum, you can, of course, get an up close look at many of their cars and famous engines. You can also get a look at the production line to see how the cars are made still in the original factory.
⇒To find out more about Motor Valley and what’s on offer click here
Day Trips From Bologna For Lovers of…..Italy
Taking a day trip from Bologna doesn’t have to be all about food and fast cars, there is stunning nature and incredible history to discover as well.
Head to The beach – Rimini
Italy can get pretty hot in the summer months and you may find yourself wanting to escape the heat of the streets of Bologna and heading not far away to the beachside town of Rimini. Rimini is situated along the Adriatic Sea and has been one of Europe’s most frequented vacation spots for over 160 years. Just remember that it is a popular spot for both tourists and for many locals as well so the beach can get pretty busy, especially on weekends.
Cross a 2000 year old bridge – Rimini
Rimini isn’t just about hitting the beach, it is also a historic city with a lovely old town. Founded by the Romans in 268 BC, Rimini has been an important part of Italian culture for many many years. One of the main Roman sights that is still standing today is The Bridge of Tiberius which was built in 20 AD not only is it still standing but is open to both foot and vehicular traffic! This bridge is a marvel of Roman craftsmanship and is a great place to photograph in the early evening as well!
Parma isn’t just about food…..
If you are planning a day trip from Bologna to Parma it is a good idea to take some time out from eating all the amazing food to also discover some of the fascinating histories. In particular the Parma Cathedral and the Sanctuary of Santa Maria della Steccata. If you are a lover of old Italian frescos then you will be in awe of the artwork located inside these two buildings.
We highly recommend taking one of Parma’s free walking tours to get an insight into the historical importance of Parma and it’s buildings. (don’t be confused by the name Tasty Walk – the tour has nothing to do with food)
Visit the 5th Smallest Country in the World – San Marino
If there is only one day trip you take from Bologna make sure it’s to the Republic of San Marino. Actually, what am I saying….don’t only do one day trip from Bologna, there’s too much to see and explore! BUT you simply must visit San Marino!
San Marino is its own country that is completely surrounded by Italy, in fact, it’s the oldest republic in the world. The good news is you don’t need a special visa to get there….
but we do highly recommend paying to get a visa stamp in your passport as a memento. Just to prove to your friends that you visited the 5th smallest country in the world.
There is so much to love about San Marino from its fairytale-esque streets, buildings, and towers to the stunning views that go all the way out to the Adriatic Sea.
We absolutely loved our day trip to San Marino and if you want 10 Reasons Why You Should Visit check out our article HERE
Where to stay in Bologna
While we were in Bologna, Bologna Welcome helped us find a great place to stay at Hotel Regina, located right in the heart of the city and easy walking distance to many of Bologna’s attractions and public transport. This hotel was closed for most of 2017 for a complete overhaul and we can say they did a great job. Don’t pay attention to the old pics on Google – they are very incorrect. Upon their reopening, in February 2018 Hotel Regina offers all of the modern comforts and design elements that we absolutely adore at Food Fun Travel. Comfortable beds that we could collapse in and sleep off our food comas after a long day of sightseeing. Refreshing rainwater shower heads and all of the amenities you would expect with a modern hotel.
Breakfast is also included with your stay and you can enjoy a buffet of croissants and pastries, local meats and cheeses and fresh fruits. YUM!
Don’t forget to grab FREE Access to our Emilia Romagna map for tourists.
We’ve been to Emilia Romagna twice and we still haven’t explored all the possible day trips from Bologna that are available in this amazing region of Italy. We honestly can’t wait to go back again and again and again there is just so much to see, do and of course eat! If you are planning on heading to Italy make sure you add Bologna and the Emilia Romagna region to your itinerary….you’re sure to fall in love too!
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We were in Emilia Romagna as guests of Blogville, some of these experiences we mention above we received complimentary but all opinions remain our own. This article contains affiliate links, by using them you help support our business and help us keep writing great content like this! So Thanks!