Italy is well-known for its rich culinary and cultural offering, especially during the warm summer and fall months. However, two festivals held in the city of Bologna stand out and are well worth a visit if you find yourself somewhere in Italy or Europe at the time: the Mortadella Festival and the Cinema Ritrovato. The first — officially called MortadellaBo — is a four-day festival celebrating mortadella, a cold-cut, cured pork sausage that is one of Bologna’s specialties. The second is the Cinema Ritrovato, an eight-day vintage film festival that screens gems from cinema’s past and features a beautiful, free outdoor cinema in the evenings.
The Mortadella festival is a one of a kind event and a must for fans of what the Italians call “the Queen of Sausages.” The sausage –well-known for its round, pink appearance and white specks — is a sandwich favorite in a lot of homes. It is made of crushed pork mixed with spices and sometimes includes chunks of black pepper or pistachios. Normally, this delicious sausage is cut into thin prosciutto-like slices, but it can also appear in cubes as part of different appetizers or salads.
Mortadella di Bologna (PGI) has a protected geographical status, meaning that it can only be called mortadella if it has been produced in the Emilia Romagna region or other neighbouring Italian provinces. This makes the MortadellaBo Festival a unique opportunity to fully experience mortadella in its region of origin. Apart from tasting the best mortadella in the world, you can also learn more about this specialty’s history in the city and discover new ways to integrate it into your cuisine.
For four days in October, the center of Bologna is transformed into a haven of mortadella-related activities. You can choose to participate in a range of events — from tastings of all of the best mortadella producers in the region to cooking classes held by famous chefs from all over Italy. There is even a range of events for your kids, as well as a fun addition — a mortadella queen wearing a pink dress with white dots. During these four days, you will learn how to pick the best mortadella, what cheeses accompany it best and even get to taste the best wines that go with this specialty. The MortadellaBo is a must-see event that you are sure to enjoy with your entire family.
The Cinema Ritrovato is another great local festival that draws thousands of people from all over Italy and Europe. While outdoor cinemas and film festivals are no rarity, this particular one is unique for its focus on films from before 1975. So in addition to drawing thousands of locals and European film buffs, it also attracts numerous film scholars and film archivists from around the world.
For eight days at the end of June and beginning of July, around 350 forgotten gems of cinematography are shown in three different theaters in the city — the Lumiere theater, the Arlecchino and the Jolly. In these venues, you can enjoy themed screenings ranging from homages to beloved actors like Marlon Brando and Charlie Chaplin to regional themes, such as some lesser-known Argentinian and Japanese films from the 50s and 60s. The Cinema Ritrovato is a truly unique opportunity to enjoy movie classics from around the world in a theater format and surrounded by film buffs from different parts of the world.
Apart from the events requiring a ticket, the Cinema Ritrovato also features free screenings each evening on Bologna’s Piazza Maggiore. These screenings are very well-organized and have excellent sound and a large screen, allowing you to enjoy the film no matter where you are seated. The added bonus? If you are a pass holder, you have access to a special area of reserved seating close to the screen.
Finally, on top of the excellent selection of films, Cinema Ritrovato also features a number of special lectures and panel talks. This gives attendees the opportunity to gain an even better insight into the films being screened. This makes the Cinema Ritrovato a true festival of film, celebrating the legacy of older creations and keeping them alive through renewed attention. Bologna — a city that beautifully combines the past and present — is the perfect setting for this type of event and truly comes alive during these 8 days of film magic.