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When it comes to Italy, other towns and areas of the rustic are beautiful universally “known” for positive issues. Milan is understood for model. Tuscany is understood for wine and lovely nation-state. Venice is understood for its romantic canals. Florence for artwork. Rome for historical past.

But if you happen to love meals? If you’re keen on meals, you pass to Emilia-Romagna.

Fresh pasta in BolognaFresh pasta in Bologna
Fresh pasta in Bologna

Emilia-Romagna is a area in northern Italy recognized for its medieval towns and fertile lands. This a part of Italy provides the sector scrumptious such things as Parma ham, the most productive balsamic vinegar, and the delectable Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese. (And, my husband would indicate, it is also given the sector Ferrari.)

And on the center of Emilia-Romagna is town of Bologna.

Located between Venice and Florence, Bologna is Italy’s Seventh-largest town. Its historical past dates again greater than one thousand years, and it is broadly considered being house to a few of Italy’s excellent meals.

Bologna, ItalyBologna, Italy
Produce in BolognaProduce in Bologna

It’s mainly against the law, then, that Bologna does not get just about as many vacationers as maximum different “famous” portions of Italy. If you’re keen on meals and historical past (however particularly meals), then you can indisputably need to make room in your Italy itinerary to talk over with this a part of the rustic.

Why talk over with Bologna

I’ve heard my blogger buddies rave about Bologna and Emilia-Romagna for years, however instead of a school talk over with in 2005 and a whirlwind backpacking day trip in 2013, my travels did not deliver me again to Italy for any period of time till the autumn of 2019.

With a convention deliberate in the historical town of Ravenna and buddies based totally in Bologna, I knew it was once after all time to test this scrumptious a part of Italy off my listing.

And I’m SO happy I after all did. Emilia-Romagna lived up to the entire hype, and I used to be completely charmed through Bologna.

Bologna streetBologna street
Porticos in BolognaPorticos in Bologna

Being sandwiched between a number of different in style locations in Italy, Bologna incessantly will get overpassed through the typical vacationer. They see the Colosseum in Rome, journey a gondola in Venice, see the David in Florence, and possibly hit up the Amalfi Coast or one of the vital Italian lakes… after which they transfer on and their Italy bucket listing is entire.

Even despite the fact that Bologna is among the greater towns in Italy – and although tourism IS a fast-growing business there – it slightly ranks in the highest 25 towns in Italy in phrases of tangible vacationer numbers. In 2018, greater than 60 million vacationers visited Italy, however just a little over 2 million of them made their manner to Bologna.

This mainly signifies that you’ll be able to talk over with Bologna with out feeling like you might be visiting Italian Disney World with tens of millions of different vacationers. Bologna nonetheless feels reasonably “local,” and permits you to discover in some way that you’ll be able to’t in different portions of Italy.

Piazza in BolognaPiazza in Bologna
Bookstore in BolognaBookstore in Bologna

My best Three causes to talk over with Bologna are:

  1. The meals. Duh. One of Bologna’s nicknames is La Grassa, or “the fat” one, and it lives up to it with one of the excellent meals you can to find in all of Italy (which is pronouncing one thing!).
  2. The structure. Bologna has the entire historical piazzas and church buildings you are expecting to to find in Italy, along historical towers and just about 40 kilometers of lovely porticos that make strolling town a deal with.
  3. The vibe. Bologna is house to the sector’s oldest college, and is subsequently additionally reasonably a tender and hip-feeling town.

The itinerary I’ve put in combination beneath melds these kind of issues into a really perfect advent to Italy’s gastronomic capital.

When to talk over with Bologna

Bologna, like the remainder of northern Italy, will also be loved any time of yr. BUT, there are indisputably some instances which might be higher than others. I for my part would steer clear of the months of July and August, when it is the freshest.

Shoulder seasons are at all times excellent, together with April-May and September-October. I visited in past due September into early October, and the elements was once just about best – sunny and nonetheless heat, however now not stifling; best for exploring town through foot, which is arguably the one possible way to discover Bologna.

Outdoor dining in BolognaOutdoor dining in Bologna
It was once nonetheless masses heat sufficient for outside eating in September.

Three days in Bologna itinerary

Even despite the fact that Bologna is Italy’s Seventh-largest town, the historical town heart is not all that enormous. You can stroll from one finish to the opposite in not up to 45 mins. Meaning that in Three days you’ll be able to truly see (and consume!) the entire excellent issues in Bologna with out feeling too rushed.

This itinerary is according to Five days I spent in Bologna, in which I did numerous strolling and ate gelato once or more in line with day. I am hoping you can thieve it to encourage you personal Bologna day trip!

Day 1: Get ancient

Start your time in Bologna in the guts of town, in Piazza Maggiore. This massive central sq. is surrounded through one of the town’s most famed structures, and is the perfect position to get started your exploration of town.

Piazza Maggiore in BolognaPiazza Maggiore in Bologna
Piazza Maggiore

Here you can to find the Basilica di San Petronio, the Palazzo del Podestà, the Palazzo dei Banchi, and the Palazzo d’Accursio, all stunning historical structures. Around the nook you can additionally to find the well-known Fontana del Nettuno (Fountain of Neptune), which is a well-liked assembly spot for locals and guests alike.

There are a number of historical spots value visiting inside of only a few meters of this piazza, however I’d get started with the Basilica di San Petronio. You cannot omit this huge basilica, with its curious half-finished facade. (And sure, it is entrance is strictly that – unfinished.)

Basilica di San Petronio in BolognaBasilica di San Petronio in Bologna
Basilica di San Petronio facade

The basilica dates the entire long ago to the yr 1390, and is unfastened to talk over with (despite the fact that you can have to pay a small charge if you wish to have to take pictures inside of). Inside, you can to find 22 aspect chapels and a nave with hovering archways.

Inside Basilica di San PetronioInside Basilica di San Petronio
Inside Basilica di San Petronio

A must-do this is to head to the again of the basilica, the place you’ll be able to take a building elevator up to a viewing terrace atop the basilica. It might appear just a little bizarre, however the Terrazza has been open for reasonably some time, and provides up superb perspectives over Bologna. See what number of towers or remnants of towers you’ll be able to spot from up right here; Bologna used to have masses of stone towers again in the 12th and 13th centuries.

It prices 5 Euro to talk over with the Terrazza, and proceeds return into recovery works in the basilica. Note that each the basilica and terrace shut for a pair hours each and every afternoon, like many sights in Bologna.

View from Basilica di San Petronio TerrazzaView from Basilica di San Petronio Terrazza
View from Basilica di San Petronio Terrazza
View into the Archiginnasio from the TerrazzaView into the Archiginnasio from the Terrazza
View into the Archiginnasio from the Terrazza

After visiting the basilica, proceed your ancient exploration of Bologna’s town heart through heading over to the Palazzo dell’Archiginnasio, or Archiginnasio of Bologna.

This palace-like development was once as soon as the principle development of the University of Bologna, which is the sector’s oldest frequently working college. The University of Bologna dates the entire long ago to 1088, which provides Bologna some other of its nicknames: La Dotta, or “the learned” one.

Archiginnasio of BolognaArchiginnasio of Bologna

The portions of the Archiginnasio you’ll be able to talk over with nowadays date again to the mid-1500s. You can peep into the Biblioteca comunale dell’Archiginnasio (Municipal Library) which is now housed right here, however the true must-see is the Anatomical Theater.

The shocking Anatomical Theater was once constructed in the 1630s, and was once used for anatomy lectures and presentations. Make notice of the carved “spellati” or “skinned men” statues, and the marble slab in the middle of the room the place autopsies would had been carried out.

Anatomical Theater in BolognaAnatomical Theater in Bologna
Anatomical Theater

An access charge of three Euros will get you into the Anatomical Theater and in addition the Stabat Mater Lecture Hall.

After your time throughout the Archiginnasio, wander during the Quadrilatero, or the previous marketplace streets of Bologna. The slim alleyways right here trace at their Medieval roots, and you can nonetheless to find meals, handicrafts, and extra on the market. This is an excellent spot for lunch.

Quadrilatero in BolognaQuadrilatero in Bologna
In the Quadrilatero
Quadrilatero in BolognaQuadrilatero in Bologna
Entrance to the Quadrilatero

For a candy deal with after lunch, head again over against Piazza Maggiore and seize gelato from La Torinese 1888. While you’ll be able to additionally get a complete meal right here, they are best-known for his or her distinctive and scrumptious gelato flavors. (And, honest caution, this itinerary contains gelato once or more in line with day!)

Gelato from La TorineseGelato from La Torinese
Gelato from La Torinese

If you might be now not historied-out after gelato, head across the nook to the Biblioteca Salaborsa (Salaborsa Library), preventing to see the Fountain of Neptune at the manner.

Fountain of Neptune in BolognaFountain of Neptune in Bologna
Fountain of Neptune

The Salaborsa Library is the principle public library of Bologna. You would possibly surprise why a normal library has made it onto this listing – however you simply have to stroll throughout the Palazzo d’Accursio to perceive why!

The library has some fantastic structure inside of, and underneath the principle flooring you’ll be able to additionally see some historical Roman ruins. For a pair Euros, you’ll be able to pass down into the basement and notice the 2d-century ruins up-close. This is extremely advisable when you have the time.

Inside the Salaborsa LibraryInside the Salaborsa Library
Inside the Salaborsa Library
Roman ruins at Salaborsa LibraryRoman ruins at Salaborsa Library
Roman ruins beneath the library flooring

Next, I like to recommend simply taking a walk thru a few of Bologna’s stunning porticos. It does not subject what the elements is like right here; you’ll be able to at all times stroll in Bologna.

For dinner, head over to the Mercato della Erbe, or Herb Market. You’ll to find much more than simply herbs right here, despite the fact that. You can purchase all types of recent meals all the way through the day, or consume at one in every of a number of eating places at evening. Most marketplace retail outlets are open till 7:30 p.m., whilst the eating places open for dinner at 7 p.m. (Just notice that the marketplace is closed on Sundays.)

Piadina at Mercato della ErbePiadina at Mercato della Erbe
Piadina on the Mercato della Erbe

Day 2: It’s all in regards to the meals

Bologna is thought of as the foodie capital of Italy (“The Fat One,” have in mind?), so you would be remiss if you happen to got here right here and did not be informed all about it is meals!

Sign up for a meals excursion this morning, like this one that incorporates 6 tastings at family-run cafes and eating places with an area information. I really like meals excursions like this, as a result of now not handiest do you get to style some scrumptious meals, however you additionally be informed in regards to the native historical past and folks alongside the way in which. Book this meals excursion right here.

Market stall in BolognaMarket stall in Bologna
So a lot beautiful produce!

You’ll consume sufficient on that 4.5-hour meals excursion to quilt breakfast and lunch, so this afternoon I like to recommend strolling off a few of the ones energy.

Start at Bologna’s well-known Le Due Torri, or “Two Towers.” I discussed earlier than that Bologna used to be stuffed with greater than 100 towers – and those two are one of the closing which might be (most commonly) nonetheless status.

The towers formally are the Torre degli Asinelli and the Torre Garisenda, named after the households that had them built as defensive fortifications again in the 11th century. The towers are additional well-known nowadays as a result of they’re each leaning.

The Two Towers of BOlognaThe Two Towers of BOlogna
The Two Towers of Bologna

You cannot omit those implementing buildings at the present-day Piazza di Porta Ravegnana, the place one in every of Bologna’s historical town gates used to take a seat. The Asinelli Tower is the taller of the pair at just below 100 meters, whilst the Garisenda Tower is the one who leans extra (Four levels, which is greater than the Leaning Tower of Pisa!).

If you might be courageous sufficient to take on small enclosed areas and 498 steps, you’ll be able to climb to the highest of the Asinelli Tower for simply 5 Euros. From there, you’ll be able to get fantastic perspectives out over Bologna. (You CAN purchase timed tickets on-line in advance, which is advisable in case you are visiting Bologna all the way through a hectic season.)

From the Two Towers, head down Via Santo Stefano, the place you’ll be able to experience extra of Bologna’s historical structure. You can pop into Santo Stefano, which is a historical non secular advanced that is incessantly known as the “Seven Churches.”

Piazza Santo StefanoPiazza Santo Stefano
Piazza Santo Stefano
Beautiful stone work at Santo StefanoBeautiful stone work at Santo Stefano
Beautiful stone paintings at Santo Stefano

It’s unfastened to input and stroll across the more than a few church buildings and courtyards – simply make sure that to be dressed respectfully, with shoulders and knees lined.

If you stay strolling down Via Santo Stefano, you’ll ultimately succeed in Cremeria Santo Stefano, which in my opinion serves up the BEST gelato in Bologna. Hopefully you might be hungry sufficient through now to check out a scoop, as a result of it is really scrumptious.

Cremeria Santo StefanoCremeria Santo Stefano
Cremeria Santo Stefano

Continue your stroll, and go out of Bologna’s heart to input Giardini Margherita. This massive public lawn is among the nicest bits of inexperienced house in town, and is a really perfect in style position for households to take strolls, stroll their canine, and feature picnics.

Giardini Margherita in BolognaGiardini Margherita in Bologna
At Giardini Margherita

There are a pair puts that promote take-away-style meals throughout the park, however in case you are going to make this your dinner spot, you may well be at an advantage preventing in to a grocery retailer to put in combination your personal picnic.

Or, you’ll be able to head to the a long way western aspect of the park and seize meals and/or beverages at VETRO, a hip little spot that is mainly constructed right into a lawn/greenhouse house. I did not have any night time foods right here, however I did pass two times for espresso all the way through the day, and had a excellent lunch right here.

VETRO in BolognaVETRO in Bologna
Eating at VETRO is like consuming in a greenhouse

Alternatively, you’ll be able to head again into the middle for dinner, relying on whilst you get hungry after your large morning of consuming the entire issues.

Day 3: Basilicas and extra meals

Today, get started your morning with just a little jaunt out of doors of Bologna’s town heart. Head to the Sanctuary of the Madonna di San Luca, which is a gorgeous basilica atop a hill overlooking the nation-state of Emilia-Romagna.

Sanctuary of the Madonna di San LucaSanctuary of the Madonna di San Luca
Sanctuary of the Madonna di San Luca
Sanctuary of the Madonna di San LucaSanctuary of the Madonna di San Luca

There are a couple of other ways you’ll be able to succeed in this basilica. The first could be to order a taxi, however I do not truly suggest this feature since it may be exhausting to get one to come select you up once more.

The 2d choice is to stroll; there are Four kilometers (2.Five miles) of porticos that attach Porta Saragozza in central Bologna to the Sanctuary of San Luca. With over 600 archways, it is the longest stretch of portico in the sector. The stroll is not delicate, despite the fact that, because the closing bit ascends rather steeply.

Sanctuary of San Luca porticosSanctuary of San Luca porticos
Porticos main up to the Sanctuary

The 3rd choice is to take the San Luca Express, which is just a little vacationer teach that leaves a number of instances in line with day from Piazza Maggiore. The round-trip journey prices 10 Euro, and springs with an audio recording to pay attention to as you benefit from the 40-minute journey to the basilica. Check the timetable right here.

I most often scoff at those vacationer trains, however this one is in truth rather priced, and the audio information was once fascinating.

San Luca Express in BolognaSan Luca Express in Bologna
Riding the San Luca Express

Once on the Sanctuary, you are not looking for greater than an hour to discover, and benefit from the perspectives. Afterwards, make your manner leisurely again to town heart.

For lunch nowadays, I like to recommend Osteria dell’Orsa, a well-known favourite this is recognized for its communal-seating tables and its brief menu. But that brief menu contains the dishes Bologna is most famed for. I liked the Tagliatelle al ragu right here such a lot that I went again and had it a 2d time.

Tagliatelle al ragu at Osteria dell'OrsaTagliatelle al ragu at Osteria dell'Orsa
Tagliatelle al ragu at Osteria dell’Orsa

Tagliatelle al ragu is the REAL “spaghetti Bolognese” that the remainder of the sector has bastardized. Try the true factor right here. You too can check out different favorites like Tortellini in Brodo (tortellini in broth), and lasagna Bolognese right here.

Osteria dell’Orsa opens at 12:30 pm for lunch, and remains open past due. It’s a well-liked spot in the college district and does not take reservations, despite the fact that, so do not be stunned when you have to wait in line a little for a desk.

After lunch, prevent alongside Via Piella to see a curious sight in Bologna: a canal! This Venetian-looking canal will also be noticed thru a small window in a bridge, which is actually marked on Google Maps because the Finestrella.

Canal in BolognaCanal in Bologna
Canal in Bologna

From there, it is only a brief stroll to some other nice gelato position known as Galliera 49. Try your ice cream, sorbet, or granita in a brioche bun!

Gelato from Galliera 49 in BolognaGelato from Galliera 49 in Bologna
You can by no means consume an excessive amount of gelato

And as for the remainder of your afternoon and night time? I’m going to go away that open for you to fill as you need.

You may do one thing like join a cooking magnificence if you wish to have to get hands-on (this pasta-making magnificence, as an example, is a brilliant choice in an area’s house in central Bologna). Or you have to choose to simply spend the remainder of your day wandering aimlessly, preventing for espresso or an aperitivo (a pre-dinner drink and small bites) as incessantly as you favor.

For extra meals suggestions, take a look at this information to Bologna meals.

Coffee in BolognaCoffee in Bologna
There’s at all times extra espresso to drink
Bologna street sceneBologna street scene
Bologna is a superb position to simply wander

As you’ll be able to most likely inform through now, Bologna is not a town to enjoy too briefly. Part of the allure this is the facility to simply wander beneath the porticoes and consume effectively – and incessantly.


Here’s a map I put in combination of the entire puts I like to recommend in this itinerary. Day 1 is crimson; Day 2 is blue; and Day Three is pink.

Where to keep in Bologna

Since Bologna’s heart is not all that gigantic, you truly cannot pass mistaken with the place you keep; just about the whole lot can be walkable! But I’ve nonetheless were given some ideas for you:

Hotels in Bologna

For resort remains in central Bologna, take a look at the next:

  • Grand Hotel Majestic “Gia Baglioni”This is the #1-rated resort in Bologna on Trip Advisor, and in addition is the one 5-star resort in town. The historical resort oozes previous global allure, and is a brilliant luxurious choice.
  • Hotel TouringWith spacious rooms and a rooftop terrace, this resort on a quiet side road is a brilliant position to base your self in Bologna.
  • Art Hotel NovecentoYou cannot get a lot more central than this boutique resort, which is among the Bologna Art Hotels.

Check out extra Bologna lodges right here.

Vacation leases in Bologna

Want to avoid wasting cash on lodging in Bologna? Then a holiday condo may well be a excellent are compatible for you, as they’re very reasonably priced. Here are some nice Airbnb choices in Bologna:

How to get round in Bologna

For this itinerary, you truly are not looking for any transportation instead of your personal two toes!

Porticos in BolognaPorticos in Bologna

If your explorations are taking you additional afield, despite the fact that, you may want to obtain the TaxiClick app in your telephone. Ride percentage services and products like Uber do not recently function in Bologna, however this app mainly works the similar manner with taxis.

And as for buying to/from Bologna, Bologna is well-connected through teach, and in addition has a world airport (Bologna Guglielmo Marconi Airport), which is not up to a 20-minute pressure from Bologna’s heart.


Who’s able to plan a day trip to Bologna now? Did you will have any concept there was once such a lot to do there?