The flight tickets to Bologna were particularly cheap - that was the main reason for our New Year's Eve trip to the heart of the Emilia-Romagna region. Apart from Pasta Bolognes, I didn’t know anything about Bologna, the more excited I was when we walked through this wonderful city on the first day. Due to the many arcades, the impressive palaces and winding streets, I felt like in another century.
Bologna, with about 390.00 inhabitants, is the capital of the Emilia-Romagna region and the seventh largest city in Italy after Rome, Milan, Naples, Turin, Palermo and Genoa. The city is also called "la dotta, la grassa, la rossa": "La dotta" means "the scholar" and describes Bologna as an important university town. "La grassa" means "the fat", which is exactly the right description for all that delicious food in the region. And "la rossa" stands for the many reddish houses in the old town, which also Chris and I find so beautiful. In addition, the color red symbolized the political left position of the city.
accomodation in Bologna
We reached our Airbnb accommodation late Friday evening. Our Host Rita waited for uns in the restaurant downstairs, as we were a little late due to a late departure. Our apartment was so beautiful: modern, clean and perfectly located in the heart of the old town in Via Pescerie Vecchie. Fortunately, we invested a few euros more and chose to stay in this Airbnb apartment instead of the many resident hotels.
We spent a few days in the beautiful city and felt very comfortable there. But as Bologna is particularly small, we have seen everything on one day.
Breakfast in Bologna
After the arrival in the evening and the first night in our beautiful apartment, we headed for breakfast in the morning and quickly found the café Pappare, which creates the most delicious croissants, tarts and pastries. We had breakfast here several times. Unfortunately, it was always very crowded, but in summer you can sit outside, which improves your chances for a free table.
CAFÉ PAPPARE: VIA DÉ GIUDEI 2, BOLOGNA
OPEN MONDAY 7.30 AM - 10 PM / TUESDAY TILL SATURDAY 7.30 AM - 11 PM / SUNDAY 9 AM - 11 PM
Sightseeing in Bologna
After a delicious breakfast, we startet sightseeing the city. Right next to the cafe, you’ll find the two famous towers of Bologna: the Torre Garisenda and the Torre Asinelli. These two towers are known because they are almost as bend as the leaning tower of Pisa. The small Torre Garisenda slopes 3.20 meters, the larger Torre Asinelli, which you can climb uploads over "only" 2.20 meters. Before coming to Bologna, Chris and I didn’t know there were many leaning towers in Italy. This is because the powerful families used to want to outdo each other over and over again with the height of their towers. No one had any idea of statics at the time, the stones were simply stacked on top of each other. Unfortunately, the tickets to visit the tower were already sold out for the whole weekend. So if you’d like to visit the tower, plan your visit in advance and book tickets online.
TORRE ASINELLI: PIAZZA DI PORTA RAVEGNANA
OPEN MARCH 1ST TILL NOVEMBER 5TH EVERY DAY 9.30 AM - 7.30 PM / NOVEMBER 6TH TILL FEBRUARY 28TH 9.30 AM - 5.45 PM
ENTRANCE EVERY 45 MINUTES
BUY TICKETS AT VISITOR CENTER AT PIAZZA MAGGIORE
PRICE: ADULT 5,00€ / STUDENTS 3,00€
From here, head towards the Basilica di Santo Stefano south-east of the city center. The basilica consists of several chapels and courtyards from the 4th century. We were really surprised - we really liked this church!
BASILICA DI SANTO STEFANO: VIA SANTO STEFANO 24, BOLOGNA
Continue to the Biblioteca comunale dell'Archiginnasio, a palace where the University of Bologna was located from the 16th century to around 1800. Here you can visit the anatomical theater where anatomical sections used to take place. Above all, we find the building impressive. However, the entrance fee for the exhibition was overpriced and not worth the visit.
BIBLIOTECA COMUNALE DELL' ARCHIGINNASIO: PIAZZA GALVANI 1, BOLOGNA
Instead, it is worth visiting the opposite Terazza di San Petronio, a lookout onto the Basilica. Since both the terrace and the elevator are built of scaffolding, one should have no fear of heights. The view was really great though and the best: you can see the leaning towers, too!
TERAZZA DI SAN PETRONIO: PIAZZA GALVANI 5, BOLOGNA
OPEN EVERY DAY 10 AM - 1 PM & 3 PM - 6 PM
The basilica di San Petronio itself is worthwhile as well. It is the main church of the city and was never completed. Nevertheless, because of its huge dimensions, it is the fifth largest church in the world. Once it was supposed to be bigger than St. Peter's church in Rome, but until today the façade of the church is unfinished. I cannot imagine how impressive the church would look with a finished exterior, but it still is pretty.
BASILICA DI SAN PETRONIO: PIAZZA GALVANI 5, BOLOGNA
Located directly on Piazza Maggiore, you will also find the Palazzo Comunale with the city council inside. The Neptune Fountain and the Palazzo Re Enzo are also located here.
The eastern side of Piazza Maggiore leads to a very special neighborhood. There are stalls selling fruit, vegetables and meat or traditional shops selling fresh pasta. We lived right in the center of this area in our beautiful Airbnb apartment in Via Pescherie Vecchie. In the evening, the neighborhood comes even more to life: young and old people meet, drink wine and eat cheese or ham. The are is in between those streets: Via Rizolli in the north, Via Castiglione in the east, Via Farini in the south and Via dell'Archiginnasio in the west.
Heading north, you’ll find the cathedral of Bologna. We were lucky that the bell tower was open that day and could enjoy the view from here. Especially the view of the church itself was great.
CATHEDRAL OF BOLOGNA: VIA DELL'INDIPENDENZA 7, BOLOGNA
BELL TOWER OPEN EVERY SATURDAY FROM SPRING TILL FALL 2 PM - 4.30 PM & 7 PM - 11PM
PRICE: DONATION OF 5€
Now, take a walk to the north of the city. Here you will find the Secret Window, so that you can look through a facade to the stream below.
dinner in Bologna
Right next door we find the restaurant Trattoria dal Biassanot. A quaint little Italian restaurant with really delicious pasta! We spontaneously got a table, but it's worth booking a table!
TRATTORIA DAL BIASSANOT: VIA PIELLA 16A, BOLOGNA
OPEN EVERY DAY NOON - 2.30 PM & MONDAY TILL SATURDAY 7 PM - 10.30 PM
The Botanica Lab near Piazza Maggiore is also worthwhile! The restaurant only serves vegan menus, really fancy and worth a visit!
BOTANICA LAB: VIA BATTIBECCO 4C, BOLOGNA
OPEN WEDNESDAY TILL SATURDAY NOON - 3 PM & 7 PM - 10 PM
We are always drawn to Italy. We love the mentality, the food and the great landscapes. We have visited Italy quite a few times and always love visiting the wonderful country of the Dolce Vita and as there are still many Italian cities or areas on our wish list, we will probably come back again and again.
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What about you?
Have you been to Bologna and have you been as amazed by its beauty as we were? Let me know, what you liked about the city? Any restaurant tips?