A series of posts that doesn’t fool around. It just goes straight to the point!
It took me a bit longer than a “quickie” to visit Bologna. I actually couchsurfed there for two nights, which gave me enough time to meet people and dig a little deeper than the usual “one day trip”. But in this post I’ll put together a guide that is very manageable in one day, especially if your legs are working fine.
There’s a reason why Italians call Bologna “La Grassa” (The Fatty). Capital of Emilia Romagna, Bologna stands proud and confident of its gastronomy. It’s hard to know where to start… Mortadella has its roots here. Everyone will tell you “you have to eat it there”. Then, there’s the prosciutto, salami, cheese and wine. The ragu (or bolognaise as everyone else in the world calls it) and the tortellini. And the list keeps on going.
The streets of the old town centre are packed with food markets and as if that wasn’t enough there’s also a brand new Eataly World where you can find fresh products, restaurants, cookbooks… Oh well, everything related to Italian food is there.
I feel like I’m getting fat just by writing this… but you know what the silver lining is? You can burn all the calories by walking the whole city and climbing all its towers and viewpoints. Just keep on scrolling.
I can recommend Il Calice as a great place to eat a board of cheeses, ham and have a glass of wine. Even Anthony Bourdain went there! Prices are very reasonable.
Other recommendations: For gelato: Sorbetteria Castiglione; for pizza: Pizzeria Due Torri
Since I moved to Italy, I’ve made it my goal to climb at least a tower in every town I visit. I just love to get that bird’s-eye view over the city, see all the red rooftops, piazzas, beautiful colours and architecture.
Asinelli Tower: Even though the most famous tower in Italy is Pisa Tower, this one is the highest leaning medieval tower in the world. Cool isn’t it? Being the city icon, makes it the most searched for monument and advanced booking is mandatory (I recommend doing it through their website). After 399 steps at a height of 97 meters you get the best view over the city. Try to be either the first one getting to the top or the last one in your group, because it gets crowded up there!
San Michele in Bosco: It’s a 30 minute walk from the city centre but it’s an opportunity to see a bit of the outskirts and the local lifestyle. Once you get to the top, you’ll see that this viewpoint is also a meeting point as many teens are smoking and hanging out.
Metropolitan Cathedral of San Pietro: The bell tower of the church is only open to visitors on Saturdays from 2pm to 4:30pm (5€). We happened to be there at that time and decided to go take a look, and if you do so, you won’t regret it. It isn’t as tall as Asinelli Tower, but it is way more quiet and unknown so you can take your time and photos without anyone bothering you. The church itself is also worth a visit and the entrance is free.
The Arcades & Architecture
Finestrella: I found out about this little “secret” while reading some travel blogs. It’s a very cute, small window that gives you access to a view over a canal. Looks like the city was originally built on canals, but nowadays they are impossible to see, except in places like this.
Piazza Maggiore & Palazzo Comunale: The lively heart of the city. Here you will find important churches, palaces and fountains. Just get yourself inside all buildings in the area, as they are free. Fontana del Nettuno was under repair when I visited, but it’s a symbol of the city, standing there since the 15 hundreds. You can also go to Biblioteca Salaborsa, the main library of the city and an archaeological site.
Archiginnasio of Bologna: One of the main reasons I wanted to visit Bologna, is because it’s home to the oldest university in the world. The Archiginnasio was one of the most important buildings of the university. Some parts are free to visit, but the Anatomical Theatre for example needs to be done with a guided tour.
Other recommendations: For a stroll: Giardini Margherita and Santuario Madonna di San Luca (you can walk or take a bus/little train).
Everywhere you will find beautiful arcades and you’ll notice that red is the predominant colour of the city. Or it wouldn’t be called “La Rossa”(The red one) as well.
And this post wouldn’t be complete if I didn’t talk about Claudio, my wonderful Couchsurfing host. Besides cooking me a delicious meal on the first night, on the second we got together with another friend of his and in a mix of Italian, Portuguese and English we had a great time while drinking local wine and eating cheap pizza.
See it all following this map:
Reviewed by: James Field (aka Jimmy). Thank you 😉