Just outside the Bologna city center, there is an entire world of Italian countryside experiences. Whether you live in Bologna or are visiting the city, visiting an agriturismo in the Bologna countryside is a great way to spend a day, particularly for wine lovers.
What you will learn in this Bologna blog post:
- What are the Colli Bolognesi and where are they located
- What is an agriturismo and why should you visit one
- What are some recommended agriturismi in the Bologna Hills
Living in a city like Bologna is great. The city has a beautiful historic city center, porticoed walkways, and lovely piazze. But walking around the city under the covered porticoes you feel a bit cut off from nature.
When you get the need for some fresh air and greenery you can go to the main green park in Bologna, Giardini Margherita. It is located to the south of the city just on the other side of the ring road. But it is often crowded on the weekends on particularly nice days. If you go a little further out into the hills of Bologna you will find yourself truly immersed in nature. It’s the perfect way to spend a day trip from Bologna.
I Colli Bolognesi – The Bologna Hills
The area just south of the main city center of Bologna, known as i Colli Bolognesi, or just “i Colli” by the locals. Originally, farmland, it is a small hilly area located very close to the city center. I Colli Bolognesi literally means the Bolognese Hills or Bologna Hills. This area is very easy to get to by car or bus from the city center. It is just five miles south of the city but you feel like you are in another place entirely. Deep within the hills, you can’t even see the city center. It truly is an oasis.
The Colli Bolognesi, or Bologna Hills, produce some amazing wines, all within a short drive from Bologna. The region includes the towns and villages of Casalecchio di Reno, Sasso Marconi, Savigno, Monteveglio, and Bazzano. Monte San Pietro rises about 450 meters (almost 1500 feet) above sea level, and the surrounding hills produce a unique terrain and microclimate: a climate that is perfect, it turns out, for growing grapes.
What Is An Agriturismo
Italy started a program some years ago to keep small farms alive. They coined the phrase “agriturismo” to describe what is essentially tourism at a local farm, or agricultural tourism. In order to increase revenue for small farms, the farmers were allowed by the government to operate a small kind of B&B on their property. Many farmers have taken advantage of this program as a way to diversify and increase their income stream.
These agriturismi (the plural of agriturismo) are all one of a kind. Each farm differing in size, location, and production. Some of the farms grow grapes to make wine, some keep cows or sheep for dairy production, others are known for the all time favorite meat in Italy, pork. If you want to enjoy a quiet retreat in the country, where you can stay in an ancient farmhouse and eat farm fresh meals, you should look into visiting or staying at an agriturismo. They are located all throughout Italy, and other countries in Europe as well. Many of the Bologna Hills agriturismo options include possibilities for lunch, dinner, wine tastings, or overnight stays.
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Bologna Hills Wines
To make the most of an experience in the Bologna countryside, it’s helpful to understand a little bit about the wine that is grown outside of the city. Within this region are three controlled wine appellations, including Colli Bolognesi DOC Sottozona Bologna, Colli Bolognesi DOC, and Colli Bolognesi Classico Pignoletto DOCG. The region produces a bianco that is generally made from Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling, Pignoletto, or Chardonnay. The rosso is normally made from Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Barbera. The spumante is sparkling wine made in the classical method, from a blend of Chardonnay, Pinot Bianco, Sauvignon Blanc, and Riesling.
In addition to these three wines, the Colli Bolognesi DOC includes approximately 30 more certified wines. Many of these wines are good, but they are produced with the same grapes that are known around the world – Cabernet, Chardonnay, Barbera, etc. When traveling to the Colli Bolognesi, the real fun comes from tracking down those wines that are unique and special. Pignoletto is one of those wines.
The Pignoletto grape is used to make white wines, both sparkling and still. Some consider Pignoletto to be the King of Wines in the Bologna Hills. Although Pignoletto is produced across the region south and west of Bologna, with the heart of Pignoletto production in the tiny village named “Pignoletto.” It’s common when visiting an agriturismo in the Bologna Hills to find this wine on the menu.
Recommended Agriturismi Near Bologna
Here are our recommendations for locals or travelers who are looking for an agriturismo in Bologna, focusing on the Colli Bolognesi. If you see Pignoletto on the menu, order it! It’s super local and is a wine that is produced in the Bologna hills and nowhere else.
Bologna Living Pro Tip: Most of our recommended Bologna agriturismi are only open on the weekends. It is always best to call ahead to confirm they are open and to reserve a table. This is particularly important during the colder seasons.
One authentic agriturismo in the Bologna Hills is Cá Shin. This lovely little farm is a tranquil oasis at the top of the hill. In just a short 10 minute drive up the hill, you are transported from busy city life to rural farmlands. There is a decent sized parking lot out front as your approach the small farmhouse.
Inside the lobby of the main building, you feel like you are entering a small rural Bed & Breakfast. The dining room is to your left and has a nice cozy feel. The menu is full of Italian classics, but be warned that the offerings are constantly changing with the seasons. Don’t expect potato soup in the summer or fresh melon in the winter!
This Bologna agriturismo is known for its vegetable garden and offers many vegetarian dishes. In the summer they have a beautiful terrace open with outdoor seating. They even have events on the weekend for children like learning how to knit or to garden. You can even rent the farm as a venue for a wedding or other special event.
Ca ‘ Shin Restaurant, Via Cavaioni, 1, 40136 Bologna (BO). They are open for lunch Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, and for dinner on Friday and Saturday.
Following a winding road through the hills south of Bologna, Corte d’Aibo is an organic and biodynamic vineyard hosts a series of buildings, including an old farmhouse that has been turned into an agriturismo, complete with guest rooms. The property overlooks vineyards, wheat fields, and fruit trees.
It is within this idyllic vineyard setting that Antonio, the master behind the Corte d’Aibo organic winery, produces one of the earliest organic wines in Emilia Romagna. They offer the famed Bolognese wine Pignoletto as well as other varieties.
Corte d’Aibo, Via Marzatore, 15, 40050 Monteveglio (BO). They are open for lunch on Saturday and Sunday and for dinner Thursday through Sunday. They close over the winter months. They also have several rooms to rent for overnight stays starting at €55 a night.
Azienda Vinicola Gradizzolo
It is not easy to find Gradizzolo. Drive down the Invernata road from Pignoletto. When you think you can’t go any further, keep on going. Or, come up to Invernata from the Monteveglio side. It’s not simple, but it’s worth the visit.
Gradizzolo produces a fine 100% Pignoletto Metodo Classico as well as other local wines including Negretto. One of the best young chefs in the area, Chef Chiara makes a mean ragù, a fabulous local pasta called gramigna, and some of the best pork in the Bologna Hills. If looking for a unique wine option, try the Pignoletto Anfora, aged in terracotta vats, similar to how the Romans made wine.
Azienda Vinicola Gradizzolo, Via Invernata 2, Monteveglio (BO). Open for lunch and dinner Monday through Thursday, lunch only Friday and Saturday, and dinner only on Sunday.
Azienda Agricola Mastrosasso
Alessandro started by producing award-winning Colli Bolognesi wines and has expanded his agriturismo offerings over the years. He started by hosting wine tastings and meals outside of his home. More recently, he opened an agriturismo restaurant that serves classic Bologna Hills dishes along with his amazing wines, including Pignoletto. Agriturismo Mastrosasso is located just up the hill from the village of Savigno.
Agriturismo Mastrosasso, Via Samoggia, 534, 40060 Savigno (BO). Open for lunch and dinner Wednesday through Sunday.