Shall we go on a trip to Bologna together? Probably my favorite city in Italy so far. Well, IT IS my favorite city in Italy. Bologna, La Dotta, La Grassa and La Rossa. In other words, as all three nicknames say, the "educated" (refers to the first university in Europe founded there), the "nurturer" since Bologna and the Emilia Romagna region in general is considered the center of Italian cuisine and finally the "red" since its buildings mostly have this deep red color.
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Reaching the center
Bologna Gulielmo Marconi International International Airport Bologna BLQ is located 6 km northwest of Bologna city center. You can get to the city center in the following ways:
- The Aerobus bus line that takes you to the main station of the city in 25 minutes with a ticket of 6 €. The ticket is also valid for transfer to city buses for a journey of 1 hour.
- The taxis that park at the exits of the airport and take you to the city center at a cost of about 25 €.
Why take a trip to Bologna
Because it is a city with a huge history and unique architecture, great food for all tastes and pockets and youthful vibes. Because it is the city in which the first University of Europe was founded and is full of students and cultural events. Because it is the city where porticoes were first created but also the birthplace of tortellini and where you will find some of the most classic dishes, such as ragout tagliatelle, cutlet bolognese, bollito misto (mixed boiled with meat and vegetables), and zuppa inglese ( something similar to tiramisu). And when you learn that Bologna comes second in the preferences of the Italians for a city break, then that alone says it all.
Where to stay in Bologna
Personally in this city I traveled solo, so I chose a hostel for my stay. Dopa Hostel is the only central (and perhaps the best) central hostel in Bologna, in a very good area (close to the University), offering few beds in men's and women's dormitories and breakfast. It has a 24-hour reception (very important) and neat colored areas. It is not very budget friendly (for hostel prices), the price for a bed in a women's dormitory with breakfast costs around 30 euros, but it is definitely worth the money.
Let’s get to know Bologna
Bologna, La Rossa – The red one
Bologna may not be as famous as its neighbors Florence and Venice, but it has an air of culture and glamor, due to the oldest University in the world and of course the best flavors of Italy. The whole city is distinguished by the "red" color of its buildings, the towers and the numerous porticoes. Bologna has the most extensive network of porticoes in the world, a trademark of its historic center. Most of the sidewalks, with a total length of 38 km, are protected by vaulted arches and have been declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.
As in any destination, I suggest you start your trip to Bologna by taking part in a walking tour. In that way you will get a first taste of the history of the city and you will definitely win some good tips for coffee and food from the guides.
Walk to the huge Piazza Maggiore where the Palazzo del Comune and the Basilica of San Petronio, the patron saint of the city, are located. Visit the Biblioteca communale dell 'Archiginnasio and experience a journey back in time, in 1088, when the University of Bologna was founded. Finally, take a picture in front of Newton's Fountain, one of the city's most important attractions.
Abbazia di Santo Stefano
In the cobbled square of San Stefano you will see a unique spectacle, the Abbey of the churches of the homonymous Saint (Abbazia di Santo Stefano). It is essentially a complex of seven churches in one (now only four survive - Chiesa del Crocefisso, Chiesa della Trinita, Santo Sepolcro and Santi Vitale e Agricola).
It may not seem like it anymore, but in Bologna once stood about 100 towers. There are now about 20 with two of them stealing the show. Garisenda and Asinelli, and they stand side by side for years in the square of Porta Ravegnana and there is no way you can not see them because they are crooked.
The tallest of the two is the Asinelli Tower, built by the family of the same name from 1109 - 19 and exceeding 97 meters while Garisenda is 47 meters high but leans more.
Bologna, although not known to many, also has a large network of canals, of which few are visible. Typical is a small window on Pella (Finistrella di Via Pella), which will give you a view you will never forget.
Bologna La Dotta – The educated one
From your first moments you will get to know Bologna as a young campus full of hyp shops on every corner and an air of liveliness and sophistication. In the city you will also find vintage bookstores and interesting museums such as the History (Museo della Storia di Bologna), the Archaeological and Contemporary Art MAMBo (Museo d’Arte Moderna di Bologna).
If you love speed or variety then take a stroll through the Ducati Museum, which attracts thousands of motorcycle enthusiasts from around the world to Bologna and the Lamborghini, which has been open since 2001 for four-wheeled lovers.
At the Biblioteca communale dell 'Archiginnasio, take a trip back to where the University of Bologna, the first in the western world, was founded in 1088.
The building is extremely impressive but the highlight is the Teatro Anatomico, built in 1637 for anatomy classes for apprentices. In the center you will see the table where the autopsy of the corpses took place (exclusively for women to complete) - while both the wood-carved panels and the history of the area will really impress you.
Bologna, La Grassa – The fat one
Think for a second that you ARE in the center of the best food. Now think that you are in the center of the best food in this country. Bologna is the capital of the Emilia - Romagna region, a region that gave birth to parmesan, prosciutto, balsamic vinegar and various types of pasta. Whatever I say doesn't do justice about the flavors I tried in this city but also about how economical all the options were.
Try tagliatelli ragu (do not ask for it as a bolognese) and remember that your trip to Bologna can not end with authentic handmade tortellini at Osteria Dell'orsa, in a beautiful setting with huge wooden tables and an air of historicity as it first opened its doors in 1979.
Also necessary is a walk to the Mercato di Mezzo, the big market of Bologna