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20 Best Places to Visit in Bologna, Italy

20 Best Places to Visit in Bologna, Italy

Italy is frequently listed as a top destination for visitors from outside of Europe since it is a tourist powerhouse. Some of the cities that travelers eagerly anticipate visiting are Rome, Venice, Milan, Florence, and Naples. Bologna is the next location.

Bologna is possibly well-known among the residents, but tourists frequently pass it by. The Emilia-Romagna region’s capital is a well-known culinary destination with a wealth of untapped culinary treasures. Its past is rooted in the eras of the ancient Romans and Etruscans. Old churches and towers that date back many centuries can be found in the historic center. The University of Bologna, the oldest university in Europe, is also located in the city.

Bologna is a fascinating city to see because of its extensive history, wonderful cuisine, and rich culture. Here are some activities and tourist attractions to take into account for your schedule if you’re interested in visiting Bologna.

1. FREE Walking Tour of Old Town

Bologna’s ancient town is charming in every way. You’ll experience a different era as soon as you enter there. Its 12 gates, which are in varying levels of repair, act as gateways into other eras. To access the actual ancient town, enter through any of these gates. Like in many locations throughout Italy, historic churches coexist with exquisite terra cotta structures.

2. Piazza Maggiore

A prominent area in the old town, Piazza Maggiore is beautiful and historically significant. The square has been around since the 1200s, but it wasn’t until 1945 that the name “Piazza Maggiore” was made official.

The Palazzo dei Banchi, Basilica of San Petronio, and Palazzo d’Accursio are just a few of the sites of significance on the Piazza. The Fountain of Neptune (Fontana di Nettuno), a 16th-century municipal Mannerist structure, is located in the square next door.

3. Basilica of San Petronio

With the exception of the front, which is still unfinished today, the Basilica di San Petronio’s construction spanned the centuries from the 14th to the 15th. This Gothic-style church, which is situated in Piazza Maggiore and is dedicated to Bologna’s patron saint, is regarded as a significant landmark of the city. The Basilica also has a museum and an antiquated sundial. There are 22 chapels there as well as various relics.

4. San Petronio’s Terrace

Another attraction of the cathedral is Terrazza di San Petronio, which is situated behind the enormous Basilica of San Petronio and faces Piazza Galvani. For individuals who desire to watch the city and the nearby structures from a different vantage point, this can be used as a view deck. You can ascend the deck using the elevator.

5. The Two Towers

Bologna’s two-century-old towers are well-known sights. The medieval eras saw the construction of many towers, although many of them fell or were destroyed. Among those still standing are Le Due Torri. These buildings’ construction might sometimes take ten years to complete. From homes to shops to jails, these serve many purposes.

The Torre degli Asinelli and the smaller Garisenda Tower are the two well-known towers. These buildings, which were built in the 1100s, serve as the city’s emblem. Asinelli Tower can be further explored by ascending to the top.


6. Portico di San Luca

The prevalence of porticoes is one of the features that give Bologna its distinctive traits. It also comes as no surprise that this is where the world’s longest network is located. The Sanctuary of the Madonna di San Luca, a significant religious and cultural site in Bologna, is connected to the city center via the Portico di San Luca.

The typical starting place for anyone who wants to explore it on foot is Arco Del Meloncello, where Via Saragozza and Via Portico di San Luca converge. More than 600 porticoes make up the nearly 4-kilometer-long Portico di San Luca.

7. Santuario di Madonna di San Luca

This 18th-century Santuario di Madonna di San Luca is a well-known pilgrimage site and tourist attraction in Bologna, perched atop the 300m Colle della Guardia hill. Porta Saragozza is the closest entrance, and it is situated to the southwest of the old town. An annual religious procession honoring the Virgin Mary crosses the Portico of San Luca from the Basilica of San Petronio to the Santuario di Madonna di San Luca.

The observation deck of the dome is an excellent place to obtain a wide-angle perspective of the city. From Piazza Maggiore, a tourist train called the San Luca Express transports visitors to the basilica.

8. Archiginnasio of Bologna

The Alma Mater Studiorum – Università di Bologna is the oldest university in Europe, having been established in 1088. Today, the Palazzo Poggi serves as its headquarters. The Palazzo dell’Archiginnasio, however, served as the major university structure for more than two centuries beginning in 1563.

The Teatro Anatomico (Anatomical Theater and Library), one of Archiginnasio’s rooms, served as the location for public body dissections for academic purposes. The dissections occasionally took place in front of Inquisition priests. Within the ornately decorated walls and ceilings unveils marble-topped tables and tier-style wooden chairs. Additionally, Piazza Maggiore is close by and reachable by foot.

9. Piazza Santo Stefano

The triangular plaza, which has the name of the nearby Basilica of Santo Stefano, is shaped like a triangle. Aside from the Basilica di Santo Stefano, this area is known as the Seven Churches Square for the historical buildings that surround it.

These include Casa Berti, Palazzo Isolani, and Palazzo Bolognini Amorini Salina. The plaza is a popular location for sporting events, cultural gatherings, and fair trade. Walk along Via Farini in the direction of Via Santo Stefano from the Piazza Minghetti bus stop. You may get to Via Santo Stefano by walking from the Strada Maggiore bus stop toward Via Gerusalemme.

10. Eat Ragú Bolognese

Bologna’s characteristic dish, ragu bolognese, is frequently served with flat, wide pasta, especially tagliatelle. A number of ingredients, including meat (pork or beef), onion, celery, carrots, tomatoes, milk, and white wine are carefully simmered to create the traditional Ragù Bolognese. Outside of Bologna, spaghetti is frequently eaten with the sauce.

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11. Eat Tortellini, Tortelloni, Tortelacci

Tortellini is a type of round pasta that resembles a dumpling and is also known as belly-button pasta. Typically, it is packed with cheese and meat. While visiting Bologna, you should sample the pasta dish tortellini en brodo.

The similar form but larger in size tortelloni are frequently packed with cheese and green vegetables. In addition to tortelloni, torttelacci is another packed pasta that is significantly larger.

12. Eat Mortadella Bologna

Like sausage on steroids, mortadella. This particular sausage is enormous. It comprises finely ground pork with added lipids that give it a marbled appearance. The customary seasoning for this flavorful heat-cured sausage is myrtle berries. Mortadella comes in various varieties, but Mortadella Bologna is the most well-known.

13. Old market in the Quadrilatero

The Qudrilatero Hotel also situates in the center of Bologna’s Old Town. It is the oldest food market in Bologna, having been around since the Middle Ages. The historic market’s winding alleyways dotted with stores and eateries, bring back memories of bygone eras.

Piazza Maggiore, the Two Towers, the Basilica di San Petronio, and the Teatro Anatomico are a few of the attractions close to Quadrilatero. Via dell’Archiginnasio, Via Farini, Via Castiglione, and Via Rizzoli all encircle it.

14. Torre Prendiparte

This 60-meter-tall tower from the 12th century, also known as Torre Coronata, served as a fortification. One of Bologna’s historically significant buildings that remains conserved, it is located in the old town. It later evolved into a prison for people who had committed crimes against the church and religion as well as a seminary.

The building’s 12 stories are currently all accessible, and a parapet doubles as a viewing platform for people who want to gain a wide-angle perspective of the city and its surroundings. It serves as a location for activities as well.

15. The National Art Gallery of Bologna

Consider including a visit to the Pinacoteca Nazionale on your itinerary if you enjoy or have knowledge of paintings. It features a collection of different Emilian artworks from the 13th to the 18th centuries. Northeast of the city center, in the University district, is where you may find it.

16. Archaeological Museum

The Museo Civico Archeologico, which is close to Piazza Maggiore along Via dell’Archiginnasio and directly across from Basilica di San Petronio, is home to significant archaeological objects discovered in and around Bologna that depict the city’s history from the prehistoric through the Etruscan to the Roman eras.

A substantial collection of Egyptian artifacts also remained there. The public gained access to the museum in September 1881, housed inside the 15th-century Palazzo Galvani.

17. Santa Maria della Vita Church

Another important site in Bologna’s historic center – the Sanctuary of Santa Maria della Vita, also situates behind the Palazzo dei Banchi on Quadrilatero’s northwest side. The history of the church dates back to the 17th century.

At the start of the 20th century, the facade was added. The Lamentation over the Dead Christ (Compianto sul Cristo Morto), the Oratorio dei Battuti from the 17th century, and the Museum of Health and Assistance are a few of the noteworthy attractions.


18.Museo d’Arte Moderna di Bologna (MAMbo)

Museum of Modern Art of Bologna, which up until the 1990s was a part of Galleria d’Arte Moderna, separated from that organization to make room for the expanding number of collections and exhibitions.

The museum, which reopened under the name MAMbo in 2007, presents and shows modern artworks and installations with a primary emphasis on experimental art. The Museo Morandi is one of the famous sections. It situates close to Piazza dei Martiri on Via Don Giovanni Minzoni.

19. Museum for the Memory of Ustica

The 81 passengers of an airplane that crashed in the skies in June 1980 come into remembrance by the Museo per la Memoria di Ustica established in 2007.

The enormous hangar serves as the show space for the aircraft’s permanent installation. In addition to the debris, the display has 81 lights, speakers, and mirrors that each represent one of the victims. North of Bologna Centrale and outside of Bologna’s historic center is where you’ll find the museum. Along Via di Saliceto, there is a garden that leads to the entrance.

20. Parco della Montagnola

Giovanni Battista Martinetti created the original plans for Montagnola Park after receiving a commission from Napoleon I in the early 1800s. A castle from the fourteenth century once stood on the land where the park now stands. The circular basin and the historically significant flight of stairs, the Scalinata del Pincio, constructed in the late 1890s, are further elements. Bologna Centrale is just a short stroll away.

Top Apartments & Guesthouses in Bologna

  • Attico di Via d’Azeglio
  • Residence Railway by Studio Vita
  • La finestra sul canale
  • B&B Casa Faccioli
  • Le Stanze degli Angeli
  • Casa Isolani, Piazza Maggiore

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