Roku and Mitch Get Their Birra On! Bologna’s Bar Scene for the Urban Millennial

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By Roku Fukui and Mitch Rhyner

BOLOGNA — It’s 10pm on Friday and for some reason Giulio doesn’t think it’s funny how you keep insisting on getting behind the bar and doing impersonations of him. We’re doing you a favor, Giulio!

You consider heading home but with a simple cost-benefit analysis conclude the benefit of a night of turpitude at the drinking establishments of Bologna outweighs the cost of putting off that 4,000-word paper due next week. Also, if you don’t go out, how else will your friends know how important your internship is because it requires a security clearance?

The following is a list of Friday night (or any other night) options in Bologna:

Harry’s Pub (no website, obviously)

If you think a slice of lemon in your gin and tonic is for the bourgeoisie, this place is for you!

At Harry’s, or Harald’s (trademark), it is clear the natural state of humanity is anarchy. It’s the type of place in which everybody knows your name (because they’re all from SAIS) and you’re never quite sure why you came. Though there’s no website, the only thing you can count on are the heteronormative bathrooms.

Don’t lie and act like it’s the first time you’ve heard “Wake Me Up Before You Go Go” in ages. Also, don’t act like you’d rather not be here. SAIS supplies the demand! You think it’s awesome, but you don’t admit it.

Harry’s is the Hillary Clinton of bars; the requirements are all met and you guess it’s not a bad choice, but if another option was presented, you’d take it. But Elizabeth Warren is not in the running.

The best method for this place might be containment. Machiavelli referenced Harry’s when he concluded that humans are inherently evil.

Green River and Cucchiaio D’Oro

I wish my pants were as inelastic as my demand for craft beers. You won’t be judged for your non-descript haircut or for just pointing at the taps behind the bar because you have no idea what any of these beers are. Also, the hops are great but sometimes I just want a Budweiser.

If you don’t get claustrophobic, go across the road to D’oro and check out the room on the left to listen to a very inebriated man have his first piano lesson. Or stand in the street to feel like you’re part of the proletariat.

I bonded with Roku here as all the noise forced us to get close and shout in each others’ faces to communicate. Our conversations involved me screaming “WHAT?” and then lowering my head so my ear was at mouth level and thus my ears, cheeks and drinks were covered in his spit. True friends.

These places are like the Iran Nuclear deal or the warming U.S.-Cuba relations; you just want someone to tell you what opinion will make you sound cool and educated.

Mercato delle Erbe Aperitivo

The Mercato delle Erbe aperitivo is totes up-and-coming. Don’t believe me?  Wise – I don’t know what “up-and-coming” means. It’s gentrification, you say? In that case I take it back – gentrification typically involves an ethnic minority, and we’ve seen the lengths Italy will go to to avoid that reality.

Located on Via Belvedere, the scene is open-air and lively. Grab a drink from one of several bars and find a table outside before they fill up. Weekend nights are the busiest – great for people-watching odd Italians. Why is that baby wearing an American flag bandana? And isn’t it past midnight? With the warm weather, the Mercato delle Erbe steps are often full, with others standing throughout the square. Sliced meat and cheese plates are popular, as are finger foods like chips and pretzels.

The Mercato delle Erbe aperitivo has been described in many ways – “the perfect selfie spot” and “dope,” for instance – but above all it’s a good place to get drunk outside with your friends and talk about how that alum you met is totally going to hook you up with a job in D.C. Altre tre birre, Giovanni!


This place emerged out of nowhere like one of the BRICS.

Was Marx the original hipster, because everyone gets free popcorn and veggie sticks? Also, Roku and I knew about this place before it was cool.

I wish the servers (who could be male models) were ruder and more impatient and treated me with more disdain because they should strive for a vibe of an exclusive speakeasy that won’t allow anyone inside.

Try their Moscow Mule. It comes in a copper mug.

Also, the drink menus are glued into novels.


Mustache is the new Camera a Sud, which was the old Red Brick, which was the slightly better version of a rustic Brooklyn bistro.

This is the perfect place to bring your SAIS “networks” because it’s conducive to quality conversations about your dream of starting a boutique political risk consulting group that focuses on the nexus between the private and public sector in China or the Middle East. I mean, I speak Arabic.

Also, the sewing machine on the wall says so much by saying so little. The service is very friendly.

Enoteca Solferino

Enoteca Solferino is a hidden gem in the south of Bologna that’s the type of place that you bring a date to show how “in-the-know” you are. With fabulous food and drink options, this place often has live music during the week.

Impress your date and talk passionately about SAIS and how upset you were when the administration poorly handled that thing you felt so vehemently about.

Or talk about how you feel the education you’re paying for at SAIS, specifically the economics classes, have an inherent conservative bias, which you believe affects students, the institution, and our greater society in unhealthy ways. I mean, you understand that these are introductory courses in classical economic ideologies and the onus is on us to go further and reason that this is simply one understanding of the theories that help to explain much of the world, but you also feel like SAIS churns out bureaucrats who work within a system that maintains a status quo which has contributed to the worst injustices of recent years, including the economic collapse of 2008 and the growing disparity around the world.

I mean, you realize that these economic classes don’t serve to provide normative answers to social issues, but c’mon, of all places SAIS, even if it is a professionally oriented program (using words like “excellence” and “synergy”), should encourage a diversity of views on economic questions and present multiple perspectives that express skepticism towards the provided material.

You feel so ardent that you consider writing to the Observer… meh, you probably won’t. No one reads that anyway.

They make a delicious Old Fashioned.

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