Last weekend I traveled for the first time to Bologna. The city is a mere 45 minutes flight away from Munich and it was more or less a coincidence that I ended up there. The initial plan was to go to Florence but since Florence is a real tourist magnet it was pretty much overbooked and I opted for a close-by alternative that proofed to be a fantastic choice: Bologna.
A city of many names
The vibrant university city (it’s one of the world’s oldest university cities) in the Emilia-Romagna has several names: Città rossa, Città dei Portici, La Grassa. The first meaning the ‘Red City’ for all its red, orange and ochre facades and the red-tiled roofs that make Bologna so typical Italian. The second meaning the ‘City of Porticoes’ which you can see on the pictures below – you can literally walk through Bologna on a rainy day without an umbrella without getting wet thanks to its hundreds of porticoes. And the last meaning ‘The Fat One’ – well that you will understand once you taste the food in Bologna. A friend of mine who is Italian and lives in Berlin now told me that whenever he visits his family he returns with 3 kg more (ciao Giu) – totally understandable after my visit to Bologna!
Art & Culture in Bologna
That coincidence of a trip to Bologna turned out to be a pretty good timing in fact. I was just in time to visit a fantastic Egyptian exhibition in the Archaeological museum and I could profit from the ‘Open Gardens’ weekend visiting some hidden gardens in the many palazzi that usually are closed for the public. But I also did the obvious classics of course: No visit without a stroll at the Piazza Maggiore with its many palazzi and the beautiful San Petronio cathedral and a visit of the local food market including a good aperitivo in one of the many adjacent bars (great tip: go for the aperitif between 6 and 9 pm – most bars offer a glass of wine or any other aperitif including a delicious buffet with Italian delicacies for a mere 7 Euros!).
Bird’s Eye View of Bologna
Another iconic sight are the ‘Due Torri’, two high towers dating back to medieval times with one leaning pretty much to one side while the other one is reaching high up into the sky – to be precise 97,20 meters accessible by 498 steps! But the panoramic 360-degrees view will reward you truly – and truth be told, those almost 500 steps are the least you can do to work off the delicious Tagliatelle a la Bolognese!
Another highlight is the beautiful Basilica di Santo Stefano with numerous little churches within its complex, beautiful frescoes and religious art. Don’t miss the wonderful Archiginnasio either – it is an old university building with magnificent study rooms and an anatomical theatre from the 17th century.
Where to eat & stay in Bologna
Food wise I can only recommend – everything! Truly, wherever I went I had amazing food. I went to the lovely and small Taverna di Roberto and had a fantastic salad of fresh mushrooms as a starter, the savory Tagliatelle a la Bolognese as a main and a rich and creamy mascarpone cream with fresh strawberries as a dessert. All of it accompanied by a good local Sangiovese red wine. The atmosphere is convivial and very Italian with many local guests. Another highlight in Bologna is ice cream – I tasted the delicious concoctions of the Cremeria Mascarella – it is located off the beaten path but definitely worth the detour! Another good option is Grom, an Italian ice cream chain, with fantastic creamy options – my favorites were pistachio and Gianduja.
A good option to stay over is the centrally located Hotel Metropolitan. You can walk everything from there and I enjoyed the friendly staff and the lovely modern interior design with ethnic accents.
Bologna is perfect for a weekend getaway. It offers enough sights to fill a weekend, it is very pleasant to discover by foot, it has a delicious local cuisine to savor and the atmosphere is vibrant, young, dynamic and utterly Italian. I hope you feel inspired and enjoyed the little virtual weekend getaway to Italy. If you have more Bologna tips to add, please do so in the comments! Ciao ragazzi!
Photography and iPhone photography by Igor Josifovic