This is a collaborative post.
Often being said that Bologna is the most underrated town of Italy, compared to Rome, Milan or indeed even Venice. But Bologna has a lot to see and do, especially if you’re a foodie and a lover of all food Italian: one of the most prolific food regions in the world producing products like Parmigiano-Reggiano, Modena balsamic vinegar and prosciutto. Not to mention wine and prosecco. It is the seventh most populous city in Italy and is an important agricultural, industrial, financial and transport hub.
Bologna, like most of the Italian cities is filled with wonderful cultural sights, historic buildings, cathedrals, churches and piazzas. So there’s definitely a lot to see if you’re interested in architecture like seeing the terracotta rooftops. Bologna is also a university town. In fact, the Univeristy of Bologna is the world’s oldest university.
These are my bucket list items for anyone who’s visiting for the first time.
This is the main square and the heart of town, it’s one of the biggest and oldest in Italy. From here you can explore all the historic buildings around the square: the Palazzo D’Accursio (Walk through the courtyard of Palazzo D’Accursio, and up the two staircases to reach the Sala Farnese for a great view of Piazza Maggiore from its windows), the Palazzo del Podestà, the Basilica of San Petronio (one of the largest Catholic churches in the world) and the famous Fontana del Nettuno.
Portico of San Luca
With its 3.8 km and 666 arcades, Portico of San Luca is the longest arcade in the world. It has 15 chapels scattered along the way and you can reach the the Basilica di San Luca at the top of the hill. It’s beautifully covered in terracotta, well worth the uphill walk. As you walk up, you have different viewpoints over Bologna, from the soccer stadium to the Certosa, the city’s monumental cemetery, and, when the portico changes sides, over the historic center.
Mercato di Mezzo
Bologna and the region is famous for its local specialities. They love their meat: mortadella, cured meats like culatello, ragus with all sorts of pasta and lasagne. But a lot of other food too. This famous food market is a perfect place to taste them all and buy ingredients. At the ground floor you can find the botteghe: small stalls where you can shop or stop to eat at the counter or in the few tables in the main hall. Even better: why not book a cooking lesson with Emilia Delizia whilst there: fresh pasta making classes in with local market tour.
Museum of the History of Bologna
Located in the centre of town in a magnificent historic building, it’s a great museum collection curated to summarise the different time periods the city has gone through. Set out in about 30 separate rooms it takes you from Etruscan time to modern day. Largely in Italian, but they do provide free audioguides in English.
MAST Foundation is an international cultural and philanthropic institution that focuses on art, technology and innovation. For those who like contemporary art, photography, modern technology – this is the place to be. Definitely different from the historic side of Bologna, MAST has exhibitions and workshops on everything the modern human created, including climate change.