Bologna Inside - Second Edition

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Apertivi are a great way to meet friends after work and grab a bite to eat at the same time. The bars will lay out a spread of various snacks, anything from pizzette (mini pizzas) to plates of pasta from 17-21:30. Once you have ordered a drink or an analcolica (nonalcoholic) fruit cocktail you are allowed to help yourself to the buffet, but don’t overdo it or you might be scowled at by the staff. Drinks usually cost a few euro more during this time, as the buffet is included. For aperitivi, students tend to congregate in the university quarter and in Via del Pratello while professionals head for the pedestrian area around Piazza Maggiore. Choices are endless, see selection below:

Aldrovandi Cafè

Via San Vitale, 33/c
Outdoor seating on Piazza Aldrovandi, great for cocktails.


Via Cesare Battisti, 9/b
Trendy, funky decor.

Godot Wine Bar

Via Cartoleria, 12
Good selection of wines, intimate atmosphere.

As an Italian IWF member, I try to attend all the movies offered in English throughout the city. The Monday night movie showing at Cinema Nosadella has become a regular get-together for several members and I really enjoy practicing my English in the discussions afterward. Once the movie houses close down for the summer, the cinema festival in the piazza is a wonderful place to spend the July evenings and see movies in English, as well as other foreign languages.

Carla Ceserani

The Irish Times Pub

Via Paradiso, 1/d
Established traditional Irish pub.

Nu Lounge Bar

Via dei Musei, 6
Great location to be see and be seen.

Le Stanza del Tenente

Via del Borgo di San Pietro, 1/a
Student locale in a restored chapel, sure to impress visitors.

Swine Bar

Via Augusto Righi, 24/a
Relaxed atmosphere, good wine selection.


Piazza Galvani, 1
A Bolognese institution, a place to bring Mom when she visits.


Attention! In Italy, the word nightclub, often shortened to night, is synonymous with strip club. Disco is the word used for a place where you dance. Going dancing in Bologna means you are in for a late night (or an early morning). Bologna’s discos are seasonal, with indoor locations open from October to late April and outdoor ones beginning in June. The happening summer dancing however takes place out on the Riviera Romagnola where some bagni (beach facilities) set up dancefloors right on the sand. As a rule, plan to arrive no earlier than 23 unless you are dining at the club. If you are not a dinner guest and are not on the coveted VIP lista (guest list) you will have to wait in line outside. Ladies are usually permitted to enter first. Most discos charge an entry fee that includes one beverage and operate using drink cards, meaning that you pay for your consumption at the end of the night. Hold on to that drink card or pay the loser’s fee, which assumes maximum consumption. Don’t leave any valuables in the guardaroba (coat room), even if it is guarded. Discos sometimes reopen the following season under new management and a new name, but the location generally remains the same. The following winter locales have been around (under various names) for years:

Chalet delle Rose

Via Porrettana, 114-116
Pontecchio di Sasso Marconi
Tel. 051.846024

La Capannina

Via San Vittore, 29/2 (corner of Via di Barbiano)
Tel. 051.581115


Via Sanpieri, 3
Tel. 051.224256

Matis Dinner Club

Via Rotta, 10
Tel. 051.6199418

Ruvido Disco Dinner Club

Via Maserati, 9
Tel. 051.6311892


Circoli (circles) are small clubs organized by associations. You pay to become a member the first time you go and receive a tessera (card) for future entry. They organize concerts, lectures and other cultural events. Centri sociali (social centers) range from gathering places for the elderly to alternative clubs in empty buildings that young people have occupied and put to use. Often centers of political and social activism, there is a long history of centri sociali in Bologna and other large Italian cities.

Link Associated

Via Fantoni, 21
Tel. 051.6332312 or 051.6344815
One of the city’s longest standing centri sociali.

Not quite as impressive as the Milanese version, Bologna manages to hold its own when it comes to early evening drinking. In recent years the aperitivo has become an important feature of Bolognese life generally and of my free time in particular. Most bars in the town center offer a wide selection of pre-dinner canapés that you can enjoy while sipping on your cocktail. Beware, check the banco before you sit down, some bars seem to think potato chips and peanuts are enough! For the best all round drinking, snacking and people-watching, head for Zanarini in Piazza Galvani or Nu Lounge Bar in Via dei Musei. Mine’s a Vodka and Tonic, cin cin.

Emily Heurlin