City of art, culture and trade with excellent exhibition facilities and a renowned manufacturing and motoring tradition, Bologna is famous for its almost 40 km of porticoes, the longest in the world.
When to go and what to see
The first view of the city is best taken from the beautiful Piazza Maggiore, where medieval palaces, witnesses to a lively public life and intense economic activity, combine perfectly with modernity, preserving their ancient charm. Palazzo D’Accursio, for example, the seat of the town hall, houses both the modern Salaborsa multimedia library in liberty style and Roman archaeological finds that can be viewed through a modern glass floor.
The symbols of Bologna include the Neptune Fountain by Giambolognaand the medieval towers. The majestic Two Towers – the Asinelli tower (98 metres) and its “twin” Garisenda (48 metres, mentioned in Dante’s Inferno) – rise above all the others.
The Alma Mater Studiorumis the oldest university in the western world.
Alongside its ancient roads and endless porticoes, an unexpected wonder are the 12th-century canals, which can also be visited underground.
Well worth a visit are Palazzo Poggi, seat of the University, the wonderful chapels of the Basilica of San Petronio, the portico and organ of Santa Maria dei Servi, the small window over the canal in Via Piella, and the Manufattura delle Arti district.
The Museums – among them the National Gallery, the Archaeological Museum, the Medieval Museum, the Morandi Museum and many others– display a rich heritage of artistic works, as do the many religious buildings, particularly the building complexes of Santo Stefano, San Domenico and Santa Maria della Vita.
As well as being called “la dotta” (the learned one) because of its university, Bologna has also earned the nickname “la grassa” (the fat one).
Bologna’s gastronomic renown dates back to the Middle Ages, when wealthy noble families would employ the most celebrated chefs of the time. The city’s gastronomic tradition is closely linked to the history of the university: the presence of students and professors from different countries enriched the culinary culture and required careful organization of food supplies.
Bologna is, among other things, synonymous with food and wine culture: mortadella, Bolognese sauce, tortellini, lasagne, tagliatelle, boiled meat, and Certosino cake are just some of the products that have made it famous around the world, together with its iconic sfogline, the local women whose cooking courses are attended by visitors from every continent. Just as famous are the Colli Bolognesi D.O.C. Wines.
To find out where to taste Bolognese specialties click here.