The aperitivo is becoming an unmissable event, a must-do part of the day where you can relax and have fun. Do you want to know where to do a nice aperitivo in the center of Bologna? Discover with us all the places we chose for you!
The origins of the aperitivo: the etymology
Aperitivo comes from Latin “aperitives”, which means “what opens”, and referring to the Encyclopedia Treccani. This meaning indicates all the beverages, mostly based on alcohol, that have the effect to stimulate the appetite.
The tradition states that this discovery was back to the IV century a.C, when the Greek doctor Hippocrates. He discovered that the administration of beverages with a bitter flavor, based mostly by white wine, had numerous positive effects for those who were suffering from loss of appetite. And just like that, he created the “vinum ippocraticum”, a white and sweet wine, spiced with macerates of dittamo, wormwood and rut.
The Romans, afterwards, to improve the bitter flavor of this beverage, started to stir it with rosemary and sage, becoming the “vinum absinthiatum”.
The medieval herbalist kept going with the experiments, mixing to the famous “vinum” new spices like nutmeg, cinnamon, carnation flowers and myrrhhey. They understood that the feeling of appetite was not given by the numerous ingredients themselves, but the bitter flavor they would leave your mouth with.
The aperitivo seen as a moment of socializing, and not only as a cure of loss of appetite, was established only in 1786, from Italy, Torin. This is an historical date, as it marks the birth on a beverage that will become the premium of the Italian aperitivo: the Vermouth, wine flavored with cinchona, which shortly won over Vittorio Emanuele II’s taste, king of Italy.
From this moment on, it was decided to call Vermouth the official aperitivo of court and the must drink beverage right before dinner, for both stimulating the appetite and of course enjoying more the served food. This beverage, sooner on, won over everyone, from Verdi to Cavour.
This tradition developed very fast in all Italy, and marked the birth of many elaborations of cocktails, until it was an actual social phenomenon.
Follow up to discover where to get away with your thirst here in Bologna.
Our bar selection, historical and curious, is developed like a spiral: starting from the very heart of Bologna, which is mostly the area of Piazza Maggiore, with the wonderful Basilica of San Petronio, the tall two Towers and many other locations, and following towards the area more outside until the “viali” of Bologna.
Terrazza San Petronio
Right in the middle of the city, in Piazza Galvani, in a height of 54 meters (177,165 feet), you can enjoy the aperitivo in a location very unique and particular. You will not only have the possibility to delight your taste buds, but also your view since there is a panorama enjoyable only at this height.
The terrace is located on the left side of the Basilica of San Petronio and it allows you to see all the city and the hills.
The famous writer Italo Calvino, in his book Il Barone rampante (1957), tells how Cosimo decided to climb the trees, and to live there for the rest of his life, and how this decision that was made when he was a child, will allow him to change his point of view on things in life.
“Cosimo guardava il mondo dall’albero: ogni cosa, vista da lassù, era diversa, e questo era già un divertimento” (Cosimo always watched the world from the tree: everything, seen from above, was different, and this was already fun).
What are you waiting for? Don’t miss this amazing opportunity!
The aperitivo in the terrace are organized during the warm season, to have more information like prices, booking, go check ABComunicazione.
Exactly in Piazza Maggiore 1 is situated the Bar Giuseppe, two feet away from the important Basilica di San Petronio.
You will also be under one of the seven secrets of Bologna, you only need to look up and closely, and maybe have also a dictionary Italian-Latin with you!
In bar Giuseppe you can be right in front and have Piazza Maggiore during sunset as a view: a wonderful frame around the heart of Bologna.
Underneath the fabulous porticoes of Pavaglione, with its extraordinary architecture, in Piazza Galvani and a few feet from Basilica di San Petronio, and crossing the elegant Via Farini, we find Caffè Zanarini, an historical reference for the city.
In 1930 Enrico Zanarini was able to rent the places below the Porticoes of Paviglione. Around 40 years later, he was able to build the biggest chain of bar/pastry place, a result that didn’t have any antecedent in the city.
Caffè Zanarini within decades, it was able to achieve an important prestige, despite the multiple times where the owner changed, and it was also able to maintain an excellent quality of its merches and its products and indeed the service as well.
It’s perfect for those who are looking for an elegant aperitivo, where you can enjoy premium wines, refreshing cocktails and gourmet appetizers.
The place also has tables outside underneath the porticoes and, during sunny seasons, in Piazza Galvani as well where you can relax and have fun not only by enjoying excellent products, but also by observing the statue of Galvani, all with the warm light of the sunset.
Osteria del Sole
In Vicolo Ranocchi 14, you can find one of the oldest osteria in the city: the Osteria del Sole. Since 1464, this Osteria represents one of the meeting points of social life around a glass of wine, a small place surrounded by the many arteries of the historical heart, between Via Orefici e Pescherie Vecchie. An historical diamond inside the more traditional stores and “bottegas” of Bologna.
Osteria del Sole is more than 500 years old: the doors, the windows, the stairs and the walls still share their story with you. Is a place so important due to its own history and originality.
A place where you can be fascinated and feel the history in it.
This place offers only alcohol-based beverages, more precisely wine and beer, and the visitors can easily bring the food with themselves.
That is the very particularity of this Osteria, which makes your aperitivo unique in its genre: you can choose where you can buy finger food to accompany the beverages, even under suggestion of the owner.
For what is concerning the food, don’t worry, around the Osteria, there are plenty of bakery’s, butchery where you can buy some traditional Bologna’s food: from tigellas to cold cuts. So indeed, in Bologna will never leave you with an empty stomach!
For all the information, you can go check the official website of Osteria del Sole.
For the lovers of the singer Vasco Rossi and the “living on the edge” type, Roxy Bar located in Via Rizzoli 9 cannot be missed in your tour!
Underneath the two towers, it has outside tables below the porticoes and on the inside, there is a wonderful and historical gallery.
In 2018, Roxy Bar was integrated by the chain 051, famous in the city for their cold cuts served with tigellas: you will be able to enjoy this delicious traditional dish while drinking a whisky, to feel exactly like in a Vasco Rossi’s song.
Did you know that Roxy Bar sung by Vasco Rossi in “Vita Spericolata” is not inspired from this bar in Via Rizzoli but from a song by Fred Buscaglione?
But besides that, this bar is so famous and known for this song that you cannot miss an aperitivo just right in front of the two towers.
In Via Marsala 31/D, there is the small Caffè Rubik.
This delicious cafes has outside tables, underneath the porticoes and just next to the street, but cars won’t be in your way. A warm atmosphere will welcome you, with a vintage taste made by the table and chairs from the 50s, with porcelain cups and on the inside the small place is covered by music boxes.
Excellent cocktails and many amari will be here waiting for you: don’t miss your chance!
Camera a Sud
Located in Via Valdonica 5, in the heart of the Jewish ghetto, you can find this lovely place also named “Silence is sexy”. For those who want to relax in a chill atmosphere, with lowlights and surrounded by books and comfy chairs, this is your place.
Needless to say, your hunger will be satisfied all well with delicious and high-quality food.
Bologna is the oldest university in the Western world, founded in 1088 a.C.
Over time the university was able to state itself as autonomous, welcoming students and celebrities from all around the world.
If, during aperitivo time, you pass by the university area, Via Zamboni, here is where you can go!
Scuderie Future Food Living Lab
Exactly in Piazza Verdi 2, right next to Palazzo Paleotti, the symbolic building of the university, there’s La Scuderia, where you can find high quality service.
Time ago, this place was part of the stables of the Palace of Signoria Bentivoglio, a wealthy and historical family of Bologna.
Today, Scuderia Future Food Living Lab represents one of the most charming places in the university area, perfect for aperitivos and dinners.
It has an open space inside and outside tables, to enjoy the warm sunset around the famous square and the theatre, just in front of Piazza Verdi.
Is a meeting point for all the students, where they can take a moment to relax after class, or study together; during this last period, it also became a type of laboratory where you can discuss about the agricultural future, new mansion in that area and the relationship between alimentation and health as well.
A place avant-garde and stimulating.
Located in via del Borgo di San Pietro 1, just 350 meters from Piazza Verdi, is a unique meeting point of university life. Is a historical place, born as the chapel of Bentivoglio’s family, is now a long bar surrounded by precious frescoes.
The frescoes were restored not long ago, and they picture different scenes, from mythological figures to Christian traditions.
Elegance and originality are part of this bar that wants to satisfy all different types of clients, proposing a large choice of wines, cocktail and amari, sticking at the same time to the tradition of Bologna.
Let yourself enjoy this aperitivo dipped in art and the history of Bologna, you will not regret it!
Only 500 meters from Piazza Verdi, crossing Via Petroni, another famous street for university life, with many different kinds of furniture of Alessi’s collection, and many other particularities.
All of this makes this place very colorful and cozy.
Experience and professionality are important characteristics of the service: you will find well prepared cocktails, a large offer for different types of aperitivos to satisfy every kind of taste.
Where to do an aperitivo in Bologna: Santo Stefano
One of the treasures of Bologna is for sure the Basilica of Santo Stefano, also known as Sette Chiese (seven churches). Place full of curiosity and many stories behind it, the Church of Santo Stefano with its square, are one of the most suggestive places of the city.
Santo Stefano is a must-see area, especially because it will leave you full of its beauty and colors around it.
And, if you happen to be in that area, here’s some suggestions to do a particular a worthy aperitivo!
If you want to know more about Basilica of Santo Stefano, read our last article!
Vineria Favalli is located in Via Santo Stefano 5/2, a street just in front of the square and the church. The attention to the details is very unique, starting from the choice of the floor inside of the place, to the terrace and in general the all furniture.
Vineria was born in 2014, and here you can find mostly crafted wines made by wine cellars who are very careful at tradition but at the natural principle of a cellar.
Also, the offers on food keep this way philosophy and attention on the quality. Let yourself be amazed by this high-quality food, wine and in a unique location!
In Vicolo Alemagna 2/C, near the wonderful Basilica of Santo Stefano, you can discover bar Ruggine, this little diamond that is only visible once you really walk through the small street.
Ruggine has a long story on its shoulders, its walls, two hundred years ago, hosted a warehouse for carriages and then became an Officine for bicycles and lastly it became what we see today, an original and unique bar. The structure is mostly the same from its origin, and then it was decorated with unique vintage pieces.
With background music always very pleasurable, let the cocktail and food proposes pumper you: innovation meeting the tradition in a perfectly balanced and natural way.
The staff is genuine, simple and spontaneous as well. During Halloween or Carnival, you can easily find some dressed up waiters that will for sure steal you a smile!
Rude is a small place in Via Rialto 10, 500 meters from Piazza Santo Stefano, in a warm and welcoming atmosphere; few tables and chairs, some sofas where you can enjoy its offers.
There is a lot of attention on the theme line of the bar, from the wines and the beers, to the cold cuts and cheeses and of course piadine. The cocktail selection is small, compared to the list of wines, but indeed of a high quality.
Manners and warmth from the staff, taste on the furniture, are some of the key words to describe this interesting place.
Where to do an aperitivo in Bologna: Mercato delle Erbe
Mercato delle Erbe, is located at the end of via Ugo Bassi, and it was born as a project in 1910 by Arturo Carpi e Luigi Mellucci: the inside of the building was meant to host many stands (or “treccole” as we say in Bologna), of different kinds of food, that were taken away from Piazza Maggiore. The main idea was that they wanted to make it easier for the other two markets in the city, the ones in Malpighi e in San Francesco.
After the bombing from World War two, Mercato delle Erbe opened in 1949 and was able to adapt its structure to what was left from the war.
The entrance, from that moment on, was put by Ugo Bassi, and after another reconstruction in 2014, together with the typical stands, were added restaurants and places that made Mercato delle Erbe one of the main points of social and cultural life.
The part of the market where you can find more traffic and crossed is the one on the side of Via San Gervasio and Via Belvedere, mostly streets for only pedestrians and surrounded by typical buildings with warm colors and very welcoming.
This area will not disappoint you on bar and aperitivos, here they are some very interesting ones!
Situated in Via Belvedere 13, Bar Mercato is the ideal place to feel the typical atmosphere of a city, in every single season: during winter it is very cozy, in spring and summer you will be able to enjoy the sun and the fresh breeze thanks to the outside tables.
A retro atmosphere will take part of your aperitivo, from delicious cocktails to finger food and different kinds of wines.
Bar Senza Nome
In Via Belvedere 11/B, between all the bar and places one after each other, there is this little pearl that was born from a very interesting project.
It was founded in 2012 by Sarah Longhi and Alfonso Marrazzo, who recently received the nominations as knighthood of the order of merit of the Italian Republic, the Bar Senza Nome (which means bar with no name) is managed by deaf guys.
Is a place that really care about integration and confront, where you order by the sign language, which is hanged in many points on the wall, or by writing on a paper your order: a place where both deaf and non-people can interact.
A very human experience worth of a try, besides the big choice of wines.
Not so far away from the area of the market, in Via Azzo Gardino 58, next to MaMbo, the Modern art Museum of Bologna, you can find Costarena, a small place worth of your attention.
Costarena was born in 2005, when the organization TenEventi decided to create a program of outside events and shows in a summer dance hall, the old dance hall of Giorgio Costa.
Culture, welcoming and education are the key words of this project.
With time passing by, Costarena became a true constant reality in Bologna, expanding its activity all year long and, after the reconstruction of the building where the Caffè is, it offers a high-quality restaurant.
The inside of the place is characterized by the vaults in masonry and has a large outside space as well.
Is perfect for an aperitivo in a quiet and chill place, even if is in the center, where you can enjoy delicious dishes and, if you’re lucky, even attend to an event or show of the program!
Where to do an aperitivo in Bologna: Pratello
In the west part of the city, we find Via del Pratello, iconic and historical street, with 600 meters of porticoes.
During medieval time, this street was not part of the walls of the city, becoming soon open landscape: its name is referring to the pear’s tree typical of that area.
During the 60s, Pratello was one of the main points where many political and cultural movements developed.
Today, the neighborhood is one of the favorite points for night life, but it contains historical monuments curios to discover, like Piazza San Francesco with the homonymous Basilica, and the ex-church of San Rocco, with numerous frescoes to admire like the ones by Ludovico Carracci.
Here it is some of the suggestion we prepare for your aperitivo!
Macondo is one of the bars in Via Pratello 22, few feet away from Piazza S. Francesco.
Macondo is the imaginary city of Gabriel Garcìa Marquez in Cent’anni di solitudine (100 hears of loneliness), where a group of families guided by Josè Arcadio buendìa was running into the forest, heard in a dream the name Macondo and founded a city. From here, in the imaginary world, Macondo begun to represent a city where is possible to dream a different story. And is not a coincidence that in this place, the walls, even in the bathroom, are covered by a wallpaper that reminds of a forest, with parrots and big green leaves.
Let yourself be involved by this exotic atmosphere: a small place, welcoming and with a retro taste, with leather sofas and velvet chairs.
Waiting for you there will also be a large choice of high-quality cocktails.
Bar de Marchi
In Piazza San Francesco 4, right in front of the big square S. Francesco, there is the historical Bar de Marchi. The fascinating side of this bar is that the walls, partly covered by journals or hanging objects, tell the history of Bologna, a story not so official but still very interesting.
The place is small on the inside, but it also has outside tables, where is possible to admire the beauty of the square and the church.
Among wine glasses and some chats, it will be fun to watch all the extravagant characters and artist passing by the bar.
Borgo Mameli was born as a renovation of a unique space, an ex-brewery fenced by the historical walls at the doors of the city center, with a big green yard; a place almost forgotten, is now transformed in a special place, ready to welcome and create social and cultural bonds, all respecting the principle of sustainability.
In this dimension it takes part also a cultural program compounded by small concert or photography exhibitions.
One of the main characteristics of this place is the step of the ex-barrack, where there are inside some table and chairs that are part of the bar, and the atmosphere created at the sunset hour, also thanks to the pastel colors of the walls, is irreplaceable and unique!
In this location, there’s obviously an attention on the sustainability and you can eat and drink the traditional excellencies: Borgo Mameli collabs only with suppliers that respect biodiversity by using only authentic ingredients.
If you come to Bologna for an event at the Stadium Dall’ara, not far away from the door Porta Saragozza, you shouldn’t miss an aperitivo in Bar Billi. You can find it in Via Pietro de Coubertin 1, underneath the arch of Meloncello, and few feet away from the beginning of the porticoes of San Luca, that represent the long walk that will take you to Santuario della Beata Vergine di San Luca.
A typical historical place, opened almost a century ago by Mario Billi, is now managed by the nephews of the founders, who decided to maintain an authentic vintage style.
During time, the bar Billi has been part as a location of many important movies, like “Jake Frusciante è uscito dal Gruppo” (Jake frusciante has left the band), with Stefano Accorsi, or “Ravanello Pallido” with Luciana Litizzetto.
Moreover, since the bar is so close to the stadium, has now became a meeting point for football lovers or concert lovers, a space where you can meet up for a beer and to have some chats about a game result or some good memories.
Among all the traditional products, Bar Billi is seen as a bolognaise creation, due to its invention of “Pan Spizièl”, typical dessert of Bologna. The packaging is still the exact same one as it was in the 60s, with the picture of the founder Mario Billi whos’ holding the dessert in his hands.
Smiles, kindness, pool table and tradition are the key words of this place.
Where to do an aperitivo in Bologna: Viali
Finally, we now arrive to a more external ring of the city, next to the avenues, full of traffic.
In via Camillo casarini 19/A, on the inside of Dumbo’s spaces, there’s now an interesting meeting point: Officina Bistrot.
The inside is in a post-industrial style, and it also has a large outside area, with tables and chairs where you can relax and enjoy the sunset in a chill place.
Inaugurated in 2021, Officina Bistrot brings with itself all the taste of innovation, by also taking part of a project of urban upgrading, and with the events and proposed by Dumbo, is now collecting a good success.
Gourmet dishes and delicious cocktail, in a chill and particular atmosphere.
Le Serre dei Giardini Margherita
Next to Porta Castiglione, that marks the end of the homonymous street, we also pass by le Serre dei Giardini Margherita.
Exactly in the heart of Giardini, perfect for enjoying some green and some nature, here there are le Serre; they were born after a regeneration job of an abandoned space, and now is a project for collaboration and sustainability.
Activities like coworking, summer festivals, services for the little ones, are just few of all the activities that take part in this park.
Design, urban regeneration, sustainability and social innovation are the key words for describing Giardini Margherita.
And in the middle of the park, there is also Vetro, the place where you can eat in a natural way, to relax and enjoy the fresh air. This is the ideal place to enjoy the nature, with some chairs and tables, and to meet for an aperitivo in a chill and sustainable way.
If you didn’t get it yet, sustainability is the principle that guides the choice of raw materials and adapted as well to the season of the year to reduce the waste.
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-Molinari Pradelli A., Bologna tra storia e osterie. Un viaggio nelle tradizioni enogastronomiche petroniane, Bologna, Pendragon, 2007.