Bologna is often overlooked in favour of some of the more well known Italian cities. Unfairly in our opinion. The red city is renowned for its fantastic food and is a superb option for a weekend break. Here’s our top ten Bologna.
The heart of Bologna and the centre of city life. Home to some of the most famous and impressive buildings. Visit at sunset to sample the atmosphere this impressive square. Grab a drink at one of the many outdoor cafes and plan your sightseeing.
Bologna is home to two leaning towers; Le Due Torri. Torre degli Asinelli, at 97m is the tallest and most impressive . Named after the family who oversaw its construction, this 12th century tower leans as a result of centuries of subsidence. Brave the 498 rickety wooden stairs for an impressive view over the red roofs of the city. On a clear day you can see as far as the alps. Entry is €3 and while the climb isn’t the easiest, the view is most definitely worth it.
Visit the Local Markets
There are a host of markets across the city selling a range of antiques, clothes and most importantly food. Bologna and the Emilia Romagna region is renowned for its food, and the markets don’t disappoint. Try the Mercato di Mezzo in the Quadrilatero or Mercato la Piazzola.
Climb to the top of San Luca
To the south west of the city, on top of a hill overlooking the city lies Il Santuario di San Luca, an 18th century church. Connected to the city by the world’s longest continuos portico (more on that later). The climb to the top is quite an effort and it’s a fair way out of town, so it’s probably worth getting a taxi to the bottom. Visit the church itself or instead just enjoy the peaceful surroundings with stunning views across the city and the surrounding countryside.
Visit the Archiginnasio
Bologna is home to the oldest university in the Western World and the historic main building, the Archiginnasio is an architectural masterpiece. Now open to the public, make sure to visit the fascinating Teatro Anatomico or Autopsy Room. Built in the 1600s this is where university students oversaw autopsies as part of their anatomy studies and is an amazing sight.
Sample the Local Cuisine
No top ten Bologna could be complete without a mention of the local cuisine. Food is incredibly important to Bologna and Emilia Romagna and there are loads of local specialities to sample. The quintessential meal is the tagliatelle with ragu, but there are plenty of other options. Be sure to try Mortadella (Italian Sausage), Tortellini (Pasta stuffed with vegetables or meat) or Torta di Riso (a sweet rice cake).
Wander Through the Porticoes
Bologna is famous for its 45km of porticoes; covered arch arcades which are remnants from a wave of great city expansion to house the growing student population. These porticoes offer a great way to spend an afternoon browsing and shopping or to shelter from the rain or hot Bologna sun.
Basillica di San Petronio
This imposing church dominates the main square of Piazza Maggiore. Originally planned to dwarf Rome’s St Peter’s cathedral before the vatican stepped in, the facade remains unfinished but it is a truly impressive site.
One for the art lovers, this gallery isn’t huge but easily big enough to fill a few hours wandering through the collections. Home to some of the finest works of artists from the Emilia Romagna region and across the world.
Enjoy an Apertivo
One way to sample some of Bologna’s specialities without spending a fortune is to enjoy an apertivo. Similar to the spanish tapas conept, order a Spritz at one of the many city bars and take advantage of the range of pizzas, sliders, pasta and meats on offer on an evening. The range offered varies from bar to bar, just make sure you have your glass topped up and you can keep on snacking.
Basillica Santo Stefano
Rounding up our Top Ten Bologna is this group of four churches remaining from the seven constructed in the 11th century. Spend an afternoon wandering through these varied buildings and taking in the beautiful architecture.
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