It wasn’t until we arrived in Bologna that we realized Italy really is closed in August. Our first hint was when a Couch Surfer wrote to us asking why we were coming in August when everyone is out of town on holidays, tourists fill the streets, and many of the shops and restaurants close their doors for the month. Well, we certainly didn’t plan for it. The reality of the situation came crashing down when we arrived at Stefino Veg, an all vegan ice cream parlor, only to find the door closed and a small sign saying the staff would be on holidays from August 6 to 18.
Vegan in Bologna, Italy
Had Stefino Veg been open, we probably would have enjoyed a scoop or two of ice cream that looked something like this little bowl of goodness Feather from the Vegan Around the World blog had while she was in Bologna.
There are two Stefino Gelaterias in Bologna. Stefino (Via Galliera 49/b) has gelato made with dairy and Stefino Veg makes gelato with fruit and soy milk. They are owned by the same people and share a website so it can be confusing.
via Riva Reno 7/A
Bologna Italy (40122) (at piazza Manfredi Azzarita)
Centro Natura Vegetarian
After getting over the disappointment of Stefino Veg being closed, we set out to Centro Natura, a self-service vegetarian restaurant that’s attached to a yoga and wellness center. We were crossing our fingers as we walked up to the door but found yet another “Closed for August” sign.
I have two friends who have visited Bologna and eaten at Centro Natura. They took some photos so now we can see the yummy organic vegan food we missed. Sigh…
Centro Natura Vegetarian
Via degli Albari 6
Bologna Italy (at p.zza Maggiore)
Homemade Vegan Italian Food
Okay, here is the part where I stop complaining about vegetarian restaurants being closed. There is nothing like a lack of restaurant options to inspire you to cook homemade meals. This was the case in Bologna, but I can’t take credit for it. Francesco and Marica, our lovely Couch Surfing hosts, were very excited to show off the culinary delights they make at home, which are both vegan-friendly and inspired by traditional Italian food. The first dish they made for us was pasta al ragu. This typical pasta dish is usually made with a meat sauce but in our case the meat was substituted by textured vegetable protein, also known as TVP.
Pasta al ragu was lunch. On the dinner menu was the vegan version of scaloppine al limone, or veal escalopes with lemon sauce (ewwww!!!!), which Francesco and Marica made with local and organic seitan. Our seitan al limone was paired with a delicious vegetable side dish that consisted mostly of red and yellow bell peppers. This was a very memorable meal and definitely a dish we’d try and recreate at home.
The following evening, we had another fantastic dinner featuring more of Italy’s beautiful produce. I don’t think there is a name for this dish. It was a salad of sorts with a layer of grilled eggplant, cherry tomatoes, a few onions and some rocket/arugula and olive oil on top.
We also had some boiled potatoes with fresh herbs.
And to round out the meal, a salad of borlotti beans, corn, onion and herbs.
So that was dinner and lunch. But what about breakfast, you ask? Why chocolate spread on “toast,” of course! Valsoia, maker of awesome soy ice cream, also whips up a darn good chocolate spread. The toasts were small, round and dry bread cracker things. Kinda like Melba toast, but thicker.
Our Italian hosts loved eating this for breakfast and we couldn’t resist the invitation to join in on the morning treat.
By the third morning, we were craving some fresh fruit. Melon and grapes fit the bill.
We also switched things up with a bag of Il Fior di Loto rice biscuits, which, surprisingly enough, also paired well with the chocolate spread ;-)
NaturaSi – Il Supermercato della Natura
In Bologna, there is a NaturaSì health food store, which is quite large and has many interesting vegan products.
There we found a selection of seitan…
…lots of rice ice cream by NaturattiVa…
…cookies and biscuits galore…
… and many brands of chocolate spread.
We left the store with a few purchases to share with our hosts: NaturattiVa raspberry and rice milk ice cream cones, Il Fior di Loto rice biscuits, Baule Volante cola bottle candies, a Baule Volante coconut chocolate bar, and a BriBon lemon ginger chocolate bar. This little lot of treats was kinda pricey, about €12.00 Euros ($16.44 USD) for everything.
I’m sad to report the raspberry rice ice cream cones weren’t as good as we were hoping they’d be. The ice cream was really hard, not very creamy, and the raspberry stuff on top was gooey and like diluted jam.
Via Montefiorino, 2/D, Zona Stadio
I’ll leave you with a picture of this vegetarian graffiti we spotted on a garbage can in Bologna. It translates into something like…vegetables such as meat, save animals, go vegetarian. At the end was this website link: www.cambiamenu.it