Bologna is a beautiful place that many people pass through (perhaps on their way to the Ferrari Museum in Emilia Romagna) but very few actually explore. Instead, they take the train through the sprawling city, heading forth towards Rome and Milan, the key tourist locations. Travelers hardly ever take the time to explore the beautiful red architecture, the tantalising food delicacies inside restaurants on every street corner and the cultural cuisine from shops to atmospheric bars.
Bologna is widely known by Italians as La Dotta, La Rossa, and La Grassa. Loosely translated, this means the educated, the red and the fat. Each little description tells you a tad more about this stunning city. The educated quite clearly refers to the rich history of education in the city. Bologna is actually home to the oldest university in Europe. Once you arrive, there are no prizes for guessing why it’s referred to as the red. Almost of the city’s buildings are a sandy red in tone and are stunning examples of ancient architecture. It’s a city that is still firmly embedded in the past, and this makes it an absolute wonder to explore for history buffs.
As for the fat, perhaps you should discover that for yourself when you taste the delicious foods that Bologna has to offer with rich pasta sauces and creamy goodness that will send your taste buds to heaven.
Before we explore some of the wonderful sights and experiences of Bologna, let’s figure out how to get there.
Travelling to Bologna
The best way to get to Bologna is by air. Guglielmo Marconi Airport is located just 8km away from the bustling city, and you’ll be able to travel there using a selection of over forty dozen airlines including the budget favourite for broke backpackers, Ryanair. Once you arrive at the airport, there are numerous ways to get to the city itself. You can take the Aerobus. This will take around twenty minutes and cost no more than five euros. The only downside is that it will only drop you off at the main train station. There you’ll need to take a train or a bus to your actual destination. While Bologna is quite well connected and the train station is one of the busiest in Italy, you might be better off taking a more direct route to your hotel.
For instance, you can rent a car. Bologna is connected to other enchanting places to visit in Italy such as Rome and Florence by the A1 Autostrada del Sole. Renting a car will give you a greater level of freedom that just isn’t possible via public transport. Alternatively, you can use a Taxi Bologna service. With a taxi, you’ll be able to go directly to your hotel or next location, rather than traveling around different public transport links.
The good news is that once you get to Bologna, the city is compact enough that you’ll be able to explore the majority of it by traipsing around the streets. In fact, narrow streets and hidden wonders make traveling around on foot the best option once you reach the city.
Things to do In Bologna
There are many things to see and do in Bologna. If you’re feeling romantic, you should certainly go and visit Piazza Santo Stefano. If you’ve been to Italy before, you’ll know that piazzas are squares in the centre of towns and cities that act as a place to socialize, have a chat and share foot in good company. This piazza is rather small but a beautiful, vibrant place to spend an afternoon. For many, it’s a spot for romance and perfect if you’re traveling with your partner.
If you’re traveling to Italy, you definitely want to try some of the local delicacies, and you’ll find fantastic options in Bologna. Arguably the best place to start would the incredibly streets of the Quadrilatero. This medieval market holds various delicacies and enchanting possibilities for you to try. It’s here that you will find the signature sauce of the region, bolognese sauce ragu. Or, if you have a sweet taste bud, you might want to try some of the incredible local wines like Sangiovese and Lambrusco.
Alternatively, if you lead a more active lifestyle, you could go and explore the world’s longest portico. A portico is a porch that connects to the end of a building. However, since this one is 3.8 Km long, it is rather impressive. You’ll find it at the foot of San Luca, and you can travel under it all the way to the top where you’ll discover the stunning Basilica of San Luc. This gorgeous sanctuary attracts thousands of tourists a year.
Sights to see In Bologna
If you want to see a beautiful site in Bologna, be sure to explore the city as the sun begins to set. You can start by admiring Piazza Maggiore. This beautiful location is wonderfully atmospheric at night after the doors begin to close. You can stay a while, enjoying a drink and a bite to eat at one of the many outdoor cafes.
As well as this, there’s the Neptune Statue. The shadow of the statue projects onto the Palazzo d’Accursio in a way that is rather eerie.
We mentioned the fact that Bologna is rich in education history and if you’re interested in this fact, you might want to visit the Archiginnasio. There are various different areas to explore, but the centerpiece is certainly the library. It has over 50,000 texts and 12,000 manuscripts. It’s a truly incredible place to visit, filled with amazing documents from every era.
Once you’ve spent a day exploring the city, be sure to stop by one of the many bars for an aperitivo. Similar to American happy hour, this is a great time to share a drink in good company as the sun begins to set in the city. One of the most popular drinks to try is the spritz. Made of Aperol and Prosecco. As well as drinks, there’s also a buffet, perfect for a delicious treat before bed.
As you can see, Bologna is a wonderful place to visit with hidden secrets and wonderful experiences to discover on every street.