30 hours in... Bologna
Here's the new chapter of the it-ER monthly column to discover the Emilia-Romagna region!
Bologna is a city that, at first glance, doesn't dazzle, but as you explore it, uncover its secrets, walk its streets, and feel its essence, it captivates and leaves an astounding impression on every visitor.
Bologna is mysterious, multicultural, free-spirited, and full of life. It's also known as La Dotta, la Rossa and la Grassa. The first one refers to the fact that it witnessed the birth of the first university in the Western world. The Università di Bologna continues to be a prestigious institution to this day because of its legacy, attracting youth in search of quality education. It's also known as la Rossa, due to the color of many of its buildings and curtains. Lastly, it's identified as la Grassa, in honor of the quality and richness of its cuisine.
Bologna wonderfully combines history, gastronomy, and culture, immersing us in the heart of its rich heritage.
In 30 hours, you can navigate its winding streets, explore its architectural and historical treasures, and savor the best dishes of its delicious cuisine. We provide you with the guide to make the most of your stay in this fantastic Italian city.
DAY 1: HISTORIC CENTER. EXPLORING THE HEART OF A VIBRANT MEDIEVAL CITY.
During the morning
Start at Piazza Maggiore, the city's central hub. From there, you can admire the Fountain of Neptune - which hides one of the "7 secrets of Bologna"-, the magnificent Basilica of San Petronio - one of the largest in the world -, the Palazzo Comunale - formerly the papal seat - , and the Palazzo del Podestà, among other historic buildings.
Just a few meters from the Piazza, you'll find the famous Two Towers (Due Torri). Here, you can ascend one of them, the Asinelli Tower, via 498 steps. From its highest point, you can enjoy a breathtaking panoramic view of the city with its predominantly red architecture.
Treat yourself to the famous Bolognese pasta – the real one - : lasagna, tortellini in brodo, and tagliatelle al ragù, among many others that bring pride to this city. You can dine at the traditional trattorias found throughout Bologna downtown.
In the afternoon
Still within the historic center and near Piazza Maggiore and the Two Towers, you'll find the Archiginnasio, the historic seat of the University of Bologna, which once served as the anatomical theater where ancient medical students learned through dissections. It also houses an impressive library for you to explore.
After leaving the Archiginnasio, you can head to the Quadrilatero area, an old market district. It's composed of and surrounded by picturesque artisan shops, fresh produce markets, and a myriad of captivating alleyways. Here you can buy some souvenirs for your friends and family.
Around 7:00 PM, you'll see bars bustling with people who, after work or their obligations, enjoy an aperitivo. You can join them and have a drink like Spritz, local wines (rosso, bianco or rosato) or others while savoring italian finger food, chips, peanuts or taralli.
DAY 2: ASTONISHING ART and LANDSCAPE
During the morning
The Pinacoteca is a must-visit to appreciate art. There, you'll find works by prominent Italian painters like Giotto, Raffaello, Tiziano, and many others.
You can then explore the area around the Basilica of Santo Stefano. It's known for being a complex of seven churches that over time interconnected to form the basilica. The oldest of them dates back to the 5th century. The unique features and the way the seven churches blend together create a particular charm for visitors.
You can grab a quick bite by purchasing one or two slices of pizza at typical eateries where students often eat. Additionally, you can take the opportunity to explore the city's welcoming porticoes. With their impressive frescoes and architecture, they were declared a UNESCO World Heritage site. They provide shelter and protection from rain, wind, cold, heat, and the blazing sun, both for tourists and locals alike.
In the afternoon
Last but not least, you can take the bus to the Sanctuary of Madonna di San Luca, located atop one of the hills with a panoramic view of Bologna that will leave you breathless and with a final amazing postcard of your trip.
Bologna is a vibrant, energetic city, full of life in and out its medieval city centre. It delivers an unforgettable experience that will leave you longing to return to this enchanting Italian city.
See you next month for another awesome trip!