Bologna is an absolutely beautiful city and there are so many wonderful things to see and do (and eat!). I spent nearly two months in Bologna, and I would gladly return to revisit the gorgeous streets and discover new favourite eateries and courtyards.
If you don’t have two months to spare and want to have a taste of what Bologna has to offer, here are my top suggestions for a brief trip to the vibrant and historic city.
Visit Piazza Maggiore
Piazza Maggiore, the main square, lies in the heart of Bologna and is a great place to start when exploring the city.
The Piazza is home to the beautiful Basilica of San Petronio, which houses the largest sundial in the world. Palazzo D’Accursio, where the Municipal Art Collections are located, can also be found in the Piazza.
While in the Piazza, grab a drink, coffee or gelato at one of the bars. Before you move on, check out the Voltone del Podestà, where visitors on either side of the vault can whisper to each other through the walls.
In summer, Piazza Maggiore hosts film festivals, music events and more, so keep an eye out so that you don’t miss out on these wonderful free events.
Climb Torre degli Asinelli
The Torre degli Asinelli offers a fantastic panoramic view of the city and the surrounding countryside.
The walk up the tower may be difficult for some, but the views are stunning. If climbing in summer, it is advisable to do so in the morning, before it gets too hot.
Tickets cost €5 and can be purchased either online or at the Bologna Welcome Centre (located in Piazza Maggiore). Keep in mind that tickets cannot be purchased at the attraction.
Visit the Sanctuary and Basilica of San Luca
This is a must while in Bologna. The beautiful Santuary is visible from Bologna, and is within walking distance.
The most traditional way to reach the Sanctuary is by following the portico from Porta Saragozza, which happens to be the longest continuous portico in the world!
Alternatively, there is a shuttle train which takes visitors up from Piazza Maggiore up to San Luca and back down again. A round train trip will costs you €10.
While at San Luca, don’t forget to climb up to the roof of the basilica for some stunning views. The entrance is a small door (take care not to miss it!), and is located on your right as you enter the Basilica.
You can find more information about San Luca in next week’s post!
Walk through the Archiginnasio
Don’t miss this chance to see the first university building in Bologna, which now houses the council library. The building is absolutely stunning and the interior walls are lavishly decorated with the names of students and professors of the past.
While you are there, take the opportunity to sit inside the amazing wooden Anatomical Theatre and lecture hall. Entry to these historical classrooms will cost you only 3 Euros, and they are absolutely beautiful.
Wander down Via delle Drapperie
Known for its abundance of fresh and high-quality produce, this is a wonderful street for wandering – whether you wish to buy food to take home or not! The street features a beautiful florist, flowers spilling out onto the street, as well as a fresh fish shop, butchers, grocers, a delicatessen filled with hanging salami and huge cheeses, and a bakery filled with delicious bread.
Produce here is known to be of quality and it is a lovely spot to grab some nice fresh Bolognese food!
Eat like a local
It is important to know when travelling through Italy that each region specialises in particular dishes and products. Hence, when staying in Bologna, one must sample traditional Bolognese foods.
Dishes which are typical of the region include piadina, tagliatelle a ragù, and tortellini. The latter is most traditionally served in a chicken broth, although you can find it served with a variety of broths and sauces.
Mortadella is also typical of the region, and many attest to the fact that Bolognese mortadella is unlike any other mortadella in Italy.
(And no, spaghetti bolognese is not mentioned here because it is NOT an Italian dish at all, let alone a Bolognese dish.)
For more information about what to do and see in Bologna, check out https://www.bolognawelcome.com/en/.