The Best Food Museums in Bologna, Modena and Parma.

There are a few places in the world where the food culture is as strong as it is in Italy. It is not only about pizza and pasta and whoever has visited Italy knows it very well.

There is something about Italians’ love for their cuisine which makes it special. It is an attention to the raw materials and the regional high-quality products. After all, Italian cuisine is one of the best in the world for something, no?

It is hard not to get overwhelmed by the great passion for tradition, quality, and regional flavors when visiting the country. Every region and every city has something to offer in terms of traditional cuisine which is specific to that area.

Emilia-Romagna is an Italian region full of culture, rich in traditions and historical landmarks. Not many know that is also the home of some of the Italian foods that have gained an important name around the world such as Parmesan Cheese, Parma Ham or Balsamic Vinegar, to mention only a few.

When in the region, you should make the best out of your experience and try out as many traditional foods as you want!

If you want to go deeper and learn something more about real Italian food culture and its ingredients you should make sure you visit these food museums in Emilia-Romagna. They focus on regional specialties and will make you appreciate Italian food traditions even more.

Carpigiani Gelato Museum

from carpigiani website

Who doesn’t love gelato? Italian summers would just not be the same without the classic (and delicious) cones or cups of artisanal gelato, that in Italy seems to be so easy to find. Loving gelato is one thing, but knowing its history and production techniques is another, and it can be quite fascinating too.

For all gelato-lovers, Bologna hosts the only museum in the world dedicated entirely to the history of artisanal gelato. It is the Carpigiani Gelato Museum.

From food classes to tasting, to the teaching of the technology behind the perfect gelato, the museum is a very interesting experience, recommended to everyone, especially those that wonder why is Italian gelato so much better than any other gelato in the world.

The main exposition is highly interactive and it is organized around four main themes: the evolution of gelato from the origins to what we know as gelato today; the history of its production, the consumption of gelato today; and the Italian artisanal gelato industry around the world.

During your visit, you’ll be able to admire many ancient machines used to produce gelato and learn about the evolutions of artisanal gelato. To visit even better, you’ll have some gelato tasting at the end. Not bad for a museum, right?

The Museum itself is located at Carpigiani’s headquarters. If you don’t know what Carpigiani is, you should, since it is the company behind most of the machines producing your favorite artisanal gelato. Located in Anzola Emilia, just 40 minutes from Bologna, the museum is easily accessible by car or public transport.

Keep in mind that before getting there, you should book a tour on the Carpigiani Gelato Museum’s website. Make sure to check also the upcoming events, you might find something interesting to enrich your visit!

Traditional Balsamic Vinegar Museum

Museo aceto tradizionale

In Italian referred to as “Museo del Balsamico Tradizionale Spilamberto, the Traditional Balsamic Vinegar museum is centered around the production of balsamic vinegar. It is an interesting door to the sometimes hidden world of the ancient methods of production of this tasty dressing that is still used nowadays and make balsamic vinegar a premium Italian product that has built an important name around the world.

The museum is located in Modena, where real balsamic vinegar is from.

Visiting the museum is a great way to learn about the techniques, the tools and the traditions of balsamic vinegar and its uses. You’ll discover the different flavors, aging method, and combinations so you’ll learn how to use it at its best. A visit to a food museum will not be complete without a tasting, and this museum does it very well.

The love and passion for the “black nectar” from the guides and the traditional production methods which will make you travel in the past, make the visit particularly interesting. You’ll go through all the steps needed to produce balsamic vinegar and learn more about the possible food combinations to enhance its flavors.

In the end, you will have the opportunity to shop for some of the awesome balsamic vinegar you tasted during your tour. You can also opt for having a tour without tasting, but the additional 2 euros for the tasting experience are worth it and will make your visit much better.

To visit the museum, you should book a guided tour of the museum’s website. They organize four visits per day every day, apart from Monday, when the museum is closed.

Parma Ham Museum: Museo Del Prosciutto Di Parma

Parma hams
Prosciutto di Parma

This wonderful museum is focussing on one of Parma’s main specialty: Prosciutto di Parma or Parma Ham. It is located in Langhirano, a small town about 90 kilometers from Bologna and 20 kilometers from Parma.

The building of the museum is called “Foro Boario”, dating back from the early 20th century. The museum is focused on the importance of the Emilia-Romagna region and its local ingredients and how they fostered the production of Parma Ham. The museum is organized into eight sections all centered around the history of the ham and its production methods over the years.

For example, there is an interesting section entirely dedicated to salt, a staple food that was essential in the conservation of foods in the past and that turned out to be the basis of the industry of cured meat and its “art”. You’ll also learn about the uses of Prosciutto di Parma in traditional Italian dishes and the most recent techniques of production.

At the end of your visit, you can choose to shop for some Parma Ham or also go for a tasting or a meal at the Museum’s restaurant, along with a selection of the best wines of the region.

So, here was a list of some of the food museums you shouldn’t miss when in Emilia-Romagna. Make sure you visit them and enjoy your experience!

MAST: The Coolest Museum in Bologna

Bologna is a great Italian destination. It’s a lot less touristic that more popular places such as Florence, Venice, and Rome, and it offers a variety of cultural landmarks, high-quality museums, and great food. What more would you ask for?

Within the many museums that you can visit in Bologna, there is one which you might not have heard about but that is most definitely one of the coolest museums in the city. It’s the MAST. Sounds interesting? Keep reading as this article is all about it.

What is MAST Bologna?

MAST Foundation (standing for Arts, Experimentation and Technology Manufactury) is an international institution created in Bologna where Innovation, Art and Technology are at the core. The main aim of the organization is to incentivize development and creativity within enterprises among the youngest generations, but it introduces concepts that are relevant to all of us.

MAST can be considered as a city within a city. Located in the neighborhood of Reno, it is an exposition in a building of exquisite architecture and it is the perfect place for industries to meet in an environment of open communication, growth, and learning.

MAST Bologna is characterized by several buildings, terraces, porticos, gardens, and a central auditorium. There are restaurants and even a wellness center. The building itself can host various events in different areas such as conferences and companies’ presentations as well as educational activities or cocktails.

But the important sections of the MAST are the galleries. The two main galleries are the Innovation Gallery and the Photo Gallery. The interactive expositions, the possibility to be guided by experts and the focus on industrial innovation and the industry world make the museum very interesting and relevant.

The Photo Gallery hosts temporary expositions of photographs in the work industry, renovating usually every four months. The Innovation Gallery is an experience in itself thanks to the great technical support and the level of interactivity reached through the use of videos and panels. The entretainment that a visit to the MAST gives is uncomparable to other museums. The expositions are characterized by various hands-on and are meant to make the visitors discover the reality of innovation in the world of industry.

MAST Gallery is open from Tuesday to Sunday from 10 AM to 7 PM, but according to the different events, the exposition might be open until 10 PM. Make sure you check the calendar on MAST’s website to organize your visit accordingly and have a better idea of the different activities that the museum proposes to its visitors.

The entrance to the expositions is free.

Anthropocene 2019: The Coolest Exposition in Bologna

Among the exhibitions that the MAST offers, the most recent one is Anthropocene. It is a great exhibition that because of the popularity has been extended until the 5th of January 2020 (so if you’re planning a visit to Bologna within this date, make sure not to miss it!).

Anthropocene: The Human Epoch is a reflection of the massive intervention of humans on our planet’s configuration. It is an art project delivered in the form of a movie that investigates and highlights the human footprint that has shaped the looks of Earth. As the name suggests, (Anthropocene can be translated as “humans at the center”) it is a study on the “era where humans have become the main cause of permanent planetary change”.

Describing Anthropocene as a simple movie would be very limiting on the project which is a unique and very informative experience. It combines great and stunning photography, film, scientific research and augmented reality in an exploration of how humans have contributed to change the planet irreversibly to a point where humans are not only active participants of life on the planet but the dominant force.

The spectacular quality of the images as well as the relevancy of the subject and the great narrative, all make this exposition a must. Not only it is very informative and mind-breaking, but it is also a project art with a purpose that will leave a mark on you.

MAST Bologna organizes several projections during the day, usually at 11:00 AM, 2:30 PM or 4:00 PM. To be sure, check the schedule that you can find on MAST’s website. The entrance is free and doesn’t require booking.

If you find yourself in Bologna, pay a visit to this cool exhibition and make sure to experience the Anthropocene project: you won’t regret it.

How to Drive in Bologna Without Getting A Penalty

Traveling to Italy by car is a great option as it allows you to get everywhere pretty fast. However, sometimes it might not be easy, as driving rules in Italy might have some aspects which are different from other countries. In case you decided to travel to Bologna by car, here is a short guide to making sure you won’t commit mistakes that you will regret.

Bologna is very well connected to the major highways, so it is rather easy to reach. However, driving in the center might be a bit complicated. Let’s go over some tips to make your driving experience in Bologna easier and smoother.

Avoid Driving in ZTL Zones

A ZTL Zone (Zona a Traffico Limitato in Italian, or Limited Traffic Access Zone) is a prohibited area which you cannot enter with a car if you don’t have a special permit. The access to these areas is monitored by cameras and the fees for breaking the rules are very high. You don’t want to commit the mistake of entering a ZTL in Bologna. But how do they work?

First of all, keep in mind that most of the historic center is part of the ZTL, so better park your car somewhere and walk to the center if you’re willing to explore there.

In all Bologna, there are 4 areas of limited access: Sirio, Zona Universitaria, Area T, and San Francesco. The access to ZTL in Sirio is active every day from 7 AM to 8 PM.

For what concerns Zona Universitaria, San Francesco, and Area T, all entries are monitored by cameras 24/7. To make sure you know about the area, check a map of Bologna. The road signs delimiting the areas are not very clear, so make sure you know where the areas are in advance.

In Sirio and Area T motorcycles are allowed to pass, even without a permit.

The circulation of vehicles in the ZTL is allowed for customers of hotels that are situated in the city center (but make sure you check with them first), bicycles and motorcycles. If you own a hybrid vehicle or an electric car, you might also be able to enter the ZTL, after having requested and received an appropriate permit. The special “permit” can be bought at the tper offices.

How to Park in Bologna

Bologna is not an easy place to park in. There is no free parking so no matter where you chose to park (legally) your car, you’ll have to pay. Also, depending on the day, finding a spot might be very complicated.

There are mainly two options for Parking in Bologna. You can either chose public parking or a garage.

Public parking can be easily spotted by the blue lines (paid) or white (free but basically non existent in Bologna) . Yellow lines are used to indicate reserved parking spots (police, government workers and so on), so you shouldn’t park there.

Depending on the area you’re in the price range and times for parking will change. To pay, find a machine and put the appropriate amount of coins according to the time you need to park for.

Alternatively, another way to park your car is to place it in a garage. There are several garages, here are only some:

Tanari is one of the best options because of the price, the great capacity, and the shuttle service to the city center. The garage is open 24/7 and the charges are approximately 0.60 cents per hour or you can decide to pay a 5 euros daily fee.
Parcheggio VIII Agosto is an underground garage which is very well located. Because of this, it is not a cheap option, but it is great if you want to visit the center. Per day you’ll have to pay 20 euros, otherwise the hourly charge is around 2.60 euros.
Garage Autostazione is close to the train station, easy to reach and about 15 minutes walking to Piazza Maggiore. It is not open on Saturday and the day-fee is 18 euros while the charge per hour is about 2.2 euros.

Here was a short but detailed guide about the basics of getting around Bologna by car, hopefully, you found it useful! Remember to investigate about ZTL and to decide where to park your car in advance to avoid problems.

Best Food Experiences in Bologna

If you have a passion for food and wine, then Bologna, Italy is the place you need to have in your travel bucket list. You will live a unique experience and rediscover true Italian flavours. Check out some of the best food experiences that we have compiled for you.

1. Take the 3 food tour.

parmigiano reggiano

The 3 food tour with Foodies Delight is one that will leave you craving for more of Bologna’s delicacies. The 3 food tour is offered at an affordable price for small groups of at least 3 people. The food tour begins with a ride in a luxurious Mercedes van from Bologna at around 7:30 am to about 12:30. If you are at Modena, the tour begins at 8:30. You will have the pleasure of experiencing the full Parmesan cheese production, followed by the legendary Balsamic vinegar production and tasting. The food tour comes to its peak with a visit to Vilani’s Salami which is famous for its delicious Parma ham in Modena. At the end of the food tour, you will have the opportunity to excite your taste buds once again with cured meat tasting. This is a food tour that you can’t afford during your stay in Bologna.

2. Dine at Trattoria Anna Maria.

Tagliatelle al ragú

Your holiday is not complete if you have not experienced the legendary Trattoria Anna Maria in Bologna, it is the sanctuary of Bolognese cookery. The Bolognese cuisines will leave you craving for more. The Trattoria Anna Maria has been making Bolognese traditional meals for over 30 years. The products and ingredients used in making the food are high quality and made in the authentic Bolognese tradition and style. This is what makes it so popular and a personal favourite to both local and international tourists. Trattoria Anna Maria offers you a full 3 course meal of your favourite Bolognese cuisines and your favourite dessert like the Dolce gelato al limone to top it all up. The Italian dishes are made at really pocket-friendly prices and you are guaranteed to receive value for your money because the food is just amazing. The Trattoria Anna Maria is located in Via Belle Arti, 17/A, Bologna. Make your stop and have an unforgettable Italian food experience at Trattoria Anna Maria that will make your vacation even more memorable.

3.Stroll and eat around Mercato delle erbe.

Global market

The Mercato delle erbe is a popular food market in Bologna where you will experience all of the famous Bolognese traditional cuisines. Most tourists prefer the Mercato delle erbe because it is like a hidden gem. It is an indoor market that is hidden to those who are not very familiar with its existence. There are even locals in Bologna who have no idea that the Mercato dele ebbe exists, it is therefore the perfect get-away for a laid back afternoon stroll in the streets of Bologna. The Mercato has been around for over a century, locals used to line out on the streets and offer home made traditional food at affordable prices. Locals used to frequently visit the market to get their daily supply of food as there was a lot of fresh vegetable, meat, cheese, fruits and even fine wine. The market was refurbished and now it is a modern market with great food joints like the Banco 32, which is a seafood joint. Then you can also visit the Altro, a contemporary restaurant that also serves all traditional Bolognese delicacies. Other eateries at Mercato delle ebbe include the Mai Chan, a Japanese take a way restaurant, Pollo e Patate, the place for roast chicken and potatoes and also the Vino e Sapuri for tasty wines.

4. Dine at a private home with Cesarine.

During your stay at Bologna, you can also enjoy dinner at a private home with Cesarine. Le Cesarine include a number of carefully selected hosts that open their homes to visitors and entertain them through offering local food. The main aim of the Cesarine is to share the great local recipes in order to preserve them and pass them on to many generations to come. If you wish to experience firsthand local Bolognese traditions, the Cesarine provides a unique opportunity and a good learning experience of the local Bolognese traditions and delicious recipes that you can go back home and try on your own. All you need to do is to create your Cesarine love list and browse the available Cesarine in the city you are in. Then you are expected to purchase a Cesarine flexi voucher and lastly book your experience with your preferred cesarine and go ahead to experience true Italian recipes. This is an opportunity of a lifetime if you visit Bologna where there are a number of Cesarinas ready to give you the restaurant experience in their homes.

5. Visit Fico in Bologna.

Bologna (BO), 2018, Eataly Bologna: FICO.

Fico is the largest agri food park in Bologna, Italy. Home to over 40 Italian restaurants, Fico,Italy. Offering you some of the best Italian traditional recipes, Fico has all types of eateries from Trattorias, starred restaurants, bistros and food kiosks. The place is fun for all types of ages and no one is sure to go home unsatisfied. The place is a must-visit because it offers all traditional Italian food at one point. It is a favourite to both locals and international tourists who converge for the love of Italian food. There are also relaxing cafes that offer you the best espresso and bars where you can drink from the producers and manufacturers of the finest wines in Italy.

In conclusion, Bologna, Italy has some of the best joints that will let you experience Italian food like never before. The 3 food tour with Foodies delight and the delicious Bolognese recipes at Trattoria Anna Maria, with a stroll at the famous new Mercato delle erbe will give you a wonderful Italian food experience. Not to forget the private dinner with the Cesarine of your choice and a visit to Fico, Bologna to sum it all up. Make a point of visiting the food joints and let your vacation in Bologna be a memorable one.