How to be a vegetarian in Bologna and in Italy.

The BBC recently published an article on vegetarian eating in Bologna. The article is entitled “Where vegetarianism is an exotic illness” written by Dany Mitzman who lives in Bologna and is a a long term vegetarian. After reading her article, here at Emilia Delizia, we felt that we should write back an open letter to this author on our website for everyone to read.


Artichokes are an Italian speciality and can be eaten raw with a little olive oil salt and vinegar

First of all the article gives a stereotyped images of Italians as short-sighted and meat hungry people with no respect for vegetarians and animals. Is it so difficult to find vegetarian restaurants in Bologna the capital of the Mortadella pork sausage?

The short answer is do not expect to find vegetarian options on the menu of a TRADITIONAL TRATTORIA, as the words imply the cooking is based on the tradition. Back in the days people had to get by with what they had and pork fat was often the only option to get the calories that they need to sustain themselves. So these menus are not designed to be vegetarian friendly, and non-meat eater should not expect to find meatless dishes at a place proudly serving the traditional fare.

This does not exclude that in the tradition there are no vegetarian dishes, just to name a few you can have Tigelle (bread) with some local cheese or pinzimonio which is a selection of raw vegetables (crudity). Also you can have maltagliati e fagioli, they are the trimmings of tagliatelle making served with beans, just ask the waiter if they used pancetta to flavour the sauce.


Pinzimonio – a vegetarian dish available in Italy

Most restaurants in Italy will be more than happy to customise their dishes for you. Even if it is not on the menu you can ask to have pasta and tomato sauce. These days they are quite accustomed to being asked for variation due to diet restrictions of their clients. Such as gluten intolerances, food allergies vegan or vegetarian options are welcome as they want you as a customer. In fact Italian are fussy eaters and it is quite common to hear in restaurant a customer to ask for a customised pasta dish or pizza.

Did you know that Italy and the Mediterranean diet is vegan friendly?

If you are in Bologna and you are vegetarian or vegan, remember that you are in Italy home of the Mediterranean diet. You can easily find a pizzeria and order Pizza Marinara. This pizza is just the base, olive oil, and garlic. It is tasty, cheap, healthy, and filling and of course it is vegan friendly. Now many pizzeria also cater for gluten intolerant people and it is common to find Kamut pizza, or even totally gluten free varieties which are normally prepared in a separate kitchen.

Continuing we can also mention other dishes such as spaghetti aglio, olio and peperoncino. A simple spaghetti dish made by stir frying garlic, and chilli pepper in extra virgin olive oil. Especially dishes from the south tend to be made with wheat, vegetables, olive oil and not much more, above you just have some ideas, I am sure you can figure out more combination of vegetarian and vegan dishes in Italy.

Italy as the home of modern vegetarians.

With so many sausages, cured meats, salami and prosciutto is hard to believe that Italy is now home of 7 millions vegetarians. In fact according to a research by Eurispes now more and more Italian are giving up meat for vegetables making it the most vegetarian country in western Europe. If this trend continues there will be 30 millions vegetarians in 2050 in Italy.

It is also worth to mention an organisation called “UN PUNTO MACROBIOTICO” which has restaurants in many major cities including Bologna. The not-for-profit charity promotes healthy eating via veganism. I believe Dany Mitzman has been a little short-sighted to write an article where the Bolognese are picutured as hungry meat eaters. In our opinion she should do more research about the place where she is living her life at moment.



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by Susan on Emilia Delizia
Lovely food tour and cooking class

Hi Gabriele:

I wanted to let you know what a great day we had this past Friday on our tour with Jacamo. (Probably not spelling it right) He was very nice and explained everything to us. It sure gives you a new appreciation when you are slicing cheese. :) Our tour ended with him taking us to the vineyard for a tour and lunch and there, Paolo, the owner could not have been more nicer. It was a perfect ending.

Please let Jacamo know what a great job he did and how much we really appreciated it and his knowledge

by Simone&Vasco on Emilia Delizia
Food tour in Modena

The website is well structured and we received a prompt answer to all questions. Gabriele supported us with all information we needed and the organization before the trip was excellent.
We had an air conditioned van, which was very relaxing through the whole tour. The first stop was the parmigiano production, which was very impressive and interesting. We could learn and especially see all the different steps and even taste the various aged parmigiano. The second step was the balsamic vinegar tasting. Finally the meat part was interesting in the museum but we hoped that we also could see more about the production and their work, but the tasting was delicious. In overall we had a very informative and well accommodated half day with our guide

by Kimie on Emilia Delizia
Fantastic Tour!!

It was great experience! We visited Parmesan cheese production, Balsamic vinegar farm, Ham museum and Farmer's lunch. Our guide gave us a detailed explanation, we were very satisfied. An excellent tour for a reasonable price, highly recommended.

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Gourmet tour

Nous sommes une famille de cinq et nous avons adoré notre expérience. Les trois endroits étaient choisis judicieusement. Notre guide était très généreuse et super gentille. Nous recommandons ce tour ( parmesan, vinaigre balsamique et jambon de parme).

by Jennifer S. on Emilia Delizia
Tour Extraordinaire!

My family felt our first trip to Italy must include a tour of a Parmesan Cheese Factory so when I stumbled on this website several months ago I had no idea what I treasure I found! From the moment I submitted a request for the tour, my experience with Emilia Delizia was first rate. Gabriele provided excellent customer service by patiently answering all my questions to guide me through the selection and reservation of our Foodie Delight Tour. Paolo, our driver, was prompt, cordial and knowledgeable about the processes we were observing and the area in general conveying loads of information with his well-developed English speaking skills. Our stop in Modena fell on a Saturday so we were quite fortunate to end up with a private tour which allowed us to have a nice, personal interaction with the people at each site. Everyone was friendly, generous with the tastings and we never felt rushed to move along to the next location. Now that we have returned to the states, my family agrees this tour was a highlight of our 10 day trip. I was really looking forward to this excursion and am glad to report it exceeded my expectations.

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Ferrari test Drive

Unbelievable!!! Totally recommend the full hour to anyone and was more than I expected.
I also want to recognize Alex Pignone who accompanied me,He was very professional and extremely knowledgeable and made me feel like I have known Him forever and where two friends out for a cruise.
Thank You for allowing me to get one more item off my bucket list.

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Great Day

Today was a great day. Everything worked perfectly and we had a great time! We can't wait for tomorrow for my second day with you.

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Full custom super car factory tour

The tour was great - Paulo was very helpful

The timing of the stops were well planned, we had sufficient time for each of the sites and Paulo gave a good background throughout the tour (history, layout of factories, how vinegar was made etc)

Many thanks for the arrangement

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Ducati, Ferrari and Lamborghini from Bologna

The pickup and transfer was very good, the driver was friendly and informative, a great day all round.

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Super car factorty tour

Tour was very good and Paolo was excellent, We all had a great day. Enzo museum was a very good addition

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One thought on “How to be a vegetarian in Bologna and in Italy.

  1. Thank you so much for writing this article! So glad to know about the vegan options! In fact I even heard that some pizzeria’s now have vegan cheese options! Super cool!

    I read that bbc article too and I just was not convinced. My parents had been to Italy twenty years ago and they said that they had found plenty of vegetarian food.

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