Bologna is a beautiful city with an incredible amount of flair and liveliness. Unjustly, it is left out by many travelers because it is rated as less spectacular in comparison with Venice or Florence.
In addition to the oldest university in Europe, numerous important historical and cultural sights and more than 40 museums, the carefully restored old town with its closed medieval cityscape is home to numerous cafés, pubs, bars, discos and student clubs that give the city a youthful flair – the 80,000 students, including many foreign Erasmus students, shape the image of the city.
Bologna has several nicknames. It is called “La Dotta” (the scholar), of course in reference to the ancient university. Another nickname is “La Grassa” (the fat one), because here people like to eat richly. Bologna is the home of tortellini, which are ring-shaped pasta that – like ravioli – can be filled in various ways. They are usually served in a soup (tortellini in brodo) or with minced meat sauce (tortellini in salsa alla bolognese). Another specialty of the city is mortadella, a pork sausage specialty, very tasty but not necessarily dietary.
Tip 1: Torre Gentilizia
The beautiful Italian town of Bologna has two impressive landmarks to offer. The two towers are also rather known as the so-called gender towers, which characterize the cityscape of Bologna. The towers are also known as significant landmarks of the town and therefore should definitely be visited.
The impressive monuments are also rather known as Asinelli and Garisenda. Both towers are of different heights. The taller tower, the Asinelli, comes to a size of almost 100 meters. The smaller tower, also known as Garisenda, still reaches a height of almost 50 meters. It is rather the inclination that makes the overall appearance of the Asinelli and Garisenda towers extraordinary. The smaller tower has a much greater angle of inclination, it is still 3.20 meters.
The origin of the Asinelli and Garisenda towers dates back to the Middle Ages. In the 12th and 13th centuries, however, there were many more towers in Bologna, probably almost 200 in total. The reasons for the high number of towers are largely unclear. From some sources it can be concluded that the towers were used for defense.
When the 20th century dawned, many structures were dismantled or collapsed.
Tip 2: Piazza Maggiore
Piazza Maggiore, in the heart of Bologna, is the central square of Bologna.
It is surrounded by the Basilica of San Petronio, the Palazzo Comunale (13th – 15th centuries) and the Palazzo del Podestà, (1485). The Fountain of Neptune, an early Renaissance work by Giambologna, is also located in Piazza Maggiore. Piazza Maggiore is a wonderful place to admire the historical uniqueness of Bologna. Enjoy a wonderful cappuccino in the cafes that surround the square.
In the alleys surrounding Piazza Maggiore you can shop to your heart’s content. You will find picturesque stores with their regional specialties, next to market stalls with fresh vegetables, fruits, and fish.
At night you can stroll wonderfully in the Piazza Maggiore.
Tip 3: Basilica San Petronio
The Basilica of San Petronio is a church in Bologna and the main church of the city. Thanks to its length of 132m, width of 60m and height of 45m, there are only four church in the world larger. The Gothic church building is dedicated to the patron saint of the city, Bishop San Petronio from the fifth century.
The building material of the basilica is brick, but the lower part of the facade was decorated with marble. The upper part of the facade was not finished until today and still shows the brick. Visitors to the church come not only for the polychrome windows and the striking play of colors on the walls, but also to see the longest meridian in the world. The meridian embedded in the floor, dating from 1655, is the work of Giovanni Domenico Cassini and has a length of 66.8 meters.
In 1390 the architect Antonio Di Vincenzo was commissioned to build a huge church in Gothic style. According to original plans, the building was to be larger than St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome, but this undertaking was prevented by the Pope in Rome. The first phase of construction included the facade, which was to show the presence of the church.
It was not until the following years that the individual chapels were built. The thwarted building project can be easily seen in the unfinished facade. Thus, the Basilica of San Petronio achieved early fame, which even led to Charles V choosing this church as the site of his coronation as emperor by Pope Clement VII in 1530. The church must be guarded around the clock because of its art treasures, by Giovanni da Modena and Dante, for example. The basilica also houses the remains of Napoleon’s sister Elisa.
Tip 4: The Archiginnasio
Palazzo Archiginnasio is located between the Basilica and Piazza Maggiore in Bologna, in the center of the city. It is one of the most representative and historic palaces of the city. Moreover, this palace was the seat of the ancient University of Bologna and houses one of the largest libraries in Italy, the Biblioteca Comunale dell’Archiginnasio.
The palace was built in the 16th century by Cardinal Carlo Borromeo and houses paintings and frescoes of great artistic value on its walls. Moreover, the arches on the outside of the building are the first thing that catches your eye. Upon entering, you should take some time to contemplate and take a photo of one of these landmarks in Bologna that captures its beauty.
Tip 5: Quadrilatero
This area is located in the heart of the historic center of Bologna and is bordered by four streets: Via degli Orefici, Portico del Pavaglione, Via Clavatura and Via Castiglione. In these streets you can also find a wide range of restaurants.
The Quadrilatero Market is a market where high quality local products are offered. Here you can find all kinds of food, but especially typical Italian products such as tortellini, mortadella Bolognese, Bolognese sauce or crescentine bread. On weekends, the area between Piazza Maggiore and Via Castiglione is a pedestrian zone. This allows for an interesting and original stroll that immerses you in the culture of this Italian city. Moreover, in these streets you will find a wide range of restaurants.