The following list is intended to guide you through some popular events and festivals happening throughout the year in Bologna and around Emilia-Romagna, as well as some new initiatives and openings scheduled for the year to come. The list does not presume to be exhaustive, but follow me and I’ll keep you updated on the best to see and do 🙂 (You can sign up to my blog by using the box to the right.)
Scrambler Ducati Food Factory – official opening January 27
Ducati and good food are synonymous with Bologna – put them together and you have Scrambler Ducati Food Factory. The new 500-square-meter space on Via Stalingrado, just outside the city center, brings together the fun, free-spirited philosophy behind the Ducati Scrambler with the great food of the local tradition. Located inside a former hemp factory, the place has been restructured keeping an industrial style; its main colors, cement gray and yellow, are meant to recall the iconic Ducati Scrambler and the on-the-road spirit of a motorbike that was first a hit in the States in the 1970s. The open kitchen area is where classic dishes of the regional cuisine (tortellini, gramigna, lasagna and tagliatelle), along with street food options (again in a nod to the Scrambler spirit) such as piadina, pizza, cheese and cold cut platters, are prepared. Ingredients are carefully selected among some of the best local producers.
Ducati fans will be happy to find a small merchandising corner by the entrance for Scrambler-inspired items.
Tip: From the drinks list, try Lambrusco Ottocentonero – it’s seriously delicious! (In fact, it was the 2015 gold medal winner of the International Wine and Spirits Challenge.)
More info –> http://www.scramblerducatifoodfactory.it/
FICO Eataly World – scheduled to open October 4
It is only fitting that an 80,000-square-meter theme park entirely devoted to food should be opened in Bologna, often recognized as the gastronomic capital of Italy. FICO Eataly World, slated to open on October 4, the feast day of Bologna’s patron saint, will be a place to learn about Italian food: how it is produced and how it is best savored. Dal campo alla forchetta, from field to fork, is the motto behind FICO: the park will include four acres of pastures, fields and farms where essential regional crops, such as olives, grapes and wheat, will be grown, and indigenous animal breeds will be raised. The resulting products will then be prepared at FICO’s 25 themed restaurants and sold at 40 on-site shops, which visitors can explore riding a three-wheeled shopping bike designed by Bianchi, the world’s oldest bicycle-making company founded in Milan in 1885.
FICO aims to be, above all, a place devoted to food education, with 10 classrooms, three kilometers of educational paths and six multimedia areas, all meant to help visitors understand where the food we eat comes from, and in the process, inspire them to re-learn the value of food and the importance of sustainability in food production.
More info –> http://eatalyworld.it/en/home
Seaside resorts on the Riviera Romagnola open year round
If you’ve ever traveled to the Riviera Romagnola, the stretch of coast from Ravenna to Rimini on the Adriatic Sea, you’ll have noticed the beaches there are a succession of stabilimenti balneari, beach clubs, complete with umbrellas, lounge chairs, bars and restaurants, sports facilities and entertainment activities. Up until last year, they used to be open just in summer; beginning this year, beach club owners have the option to keep them open all year round – which only makes sense: in the past few years, it has looked like people rush to the seaside as soon as Spring arrives; but even in winter, taking a long walk on the beach seems like a great respite from the polluted air of our cities; plus, being in the area is the perfect chance to explore the countryside of Romagna, dotted with enchanting, historic little villages.
Visit the restoration site of the Neptune Statue for an up-close look
It’s not often that you get to look our mighty Neptune in the eyes, so take advantage while Bologna’s beloved landmark is under restoration and take a guided tour of the restoration site. You’ll learn about the statue’s interesting history, really get a feel for how big it is (almost four meters tall), and see it from up close.
Ah, festivals! It seems like in Emilia-Romagna there’s always some festival going on. From food to art, from design to autos, the festivals are so many it would be impossible to list them all here.
Below are some of my favorites:
MortadellaBo – held around mid- to late October, this festival takes over Piazza Maggiore and its surroundings to celebrate the city’s most famous salume, mortadella, with stands, demos, workshops, and mortadella-inspired menus. 2017 dates TBD.
More info –> http://www.mortadellabologna.com/
Festival del Prosciutto di Parma – perhaps the second most famous cured meat of the region is Parma ham, which is celebrated at this annual festival, taking place in September in several towns in the province of Parma, including Parma itself, Collecchio, Felino and Langhirano (where the Museo del Prosciutto – Ham Museum – is located). One of the most appreciated festival moments is Finestre Aperte, when participants have the chance to enter a prosciuttificio (ham factory) and observe the cycle of production that transforms a pork’s thigh into Parma ham: a combination of climate, tradition, expertise and passion. 2017 dates TBD.
More info –> http://www.festivaldelprosciuttodiparma.com/en/
Cioccoshow – held in November, this is the festival for chocolate lovers. It celebrates artisan chocolatiers, and you’ll be able to learn how chocolate is made, from the cocoa bean to the final product. This year, it runs November 15-19.
More info –> https://www.cioccoshow.it/
Festival Verdi – this music festival takes place every year in Parma and Busseto, hometown of opera composer Giuseppe Verdi, who is celebrated with a number of opera performances at Teatro Regio, Teatro Farnese in Parma, and Teatro Giuseppe Verdi di Busseto. I’ve written about Verdi and the area where he grew up and lived most of his life for BBC Travel for the bicentenary of his birth; if you want to take a tour in his footsteps, click here. This year’s festival runs 28 Sept-22 October.
Ferrara Buskers Festival – one of the world’s biggest festivals dedicated to street music. Established in 1988, it’s meant to celebrate street performers. Each entertaining sketch takes place in the streets, alleys and squares of Ferrara for nine days at the end of August attracting hundreds of thousands of people. This year’s festival runs Aug. 17-27.
More info –> http://www.ferrarabuskers.com/en/
Tartufesta – this is your chance to get to know the beautiful Appennino Bolognese, the hilly area south of Bologna. Tartufesta is an annual event taking place in October and November in different towns of the Appennino, celebrating the white truffle of the Bolognese hills with open air markets, fairs, truffle-inspired menus and more.
Domenica al Museo – this initiative was introduced in 2014 and is valid throughout Italy: every first Sunday of the month, state museums, monuments, parks and archeological sites are open to the public for free. In Bologna and Emilia-Romagna these include:
- MAMbo – Museo d’Arte Moderna di Bologna
- Palazzo Pepoli Campogrande (Bologna)
- Pinacoteca Nazionale di Bologna (Bologna)
- Museo Nazionale Etrusco “Pompeo Aria” (Bologna)
- Galleria Estense (Modena)
- Camera di San Paolo (Parma)
- Castello di Torrechiara, Langhirano (Parma)
- Abbazia di Pomposa, Codigoro (Ferrara)
- Musei San Domenico (Forlì)
- Archeological site of Veleia (Piacenza)
- Basilica di Sant’Apollinare in Classe (Ravenna)
For the full list with opening times, click here.
Sotto le stelle del cinema – organized by the Cineteca di Bologna, one of Europe’s most important film libraries, with the city of Bologna, this film festival returns every summer, roughly from the third week in June to mid-August, when Piazza Maggiore is transformed into an open-air movie theater showing both classics of film history and the latest. And it’s free! Sitting on the beautiful Piazza Maggiore at night, with a gentle breeze offering respite from the heat of the day while watching a movie on the big screen is one of those must-do Bologna experiences!
Run Tune Up – Run your way through Bologna! This is the city’s annual half marathon event, taking place every year in September (this year, on the 10th). It departs from Piazza Maggiore and traverses the entire city center.
More info –> http://www.runtuneup.it/en/
Trekking Urbano – a national event involving several cities around Italy. As the passionate walker I am, and a strong supporter of exploring cities on foot, I am a fan of this annual event which offers a variety of themed guided visits around town. Every year on October 31 (may be extended to one or two days before or after). *Very few tours are offered in English.
More info –> http://www.bolognawelcome.com/en/trekkingurbano/
Le colline fuori della porta – Bologna wouldn’t be Bologna without its colli, and this bi-annual event, taking place in spring and fall celebrates our hills with many passeggiate. Visitors from out of town rarely venture outside the historic center to explore the hills, so this would be a good chance to spend a few hours outdoors, be active and enjoy some great views of the city. Dates for 2017 TBD.
Are you planning to visit Bologna and Emilia-Romagna in 2017?