Hi friends! Almost a month has passed since our days in Bologna and we finally got back into our daily routine. We’ve been super busy with new projects and big decisions that hopefully we will be able to share soon. In the mean time, I am working on collecting all of my thoughts about our trip, memories, and tips. Many of you have shown interest in learning more about Italy, learning facts, and seeing more pictures. A big thank you to everyone who actively reached out and told me they loved my latest post on the blog (it really means a lot to me). And if your reading this, whether you are a frequent reader, or you just stumbled on to this post, please leave a comment below. I would love to have a chance to say hi and thank you for your time.
During our Italy trip we visited Bologna, Venice, Florence, Pisa, Rome, Caserta, and Gaeta. Looking back, I think we visited way too many cities for such a short period of time, but all things considered I’m glad we did. It gave us a chance to visit more family and check some cities off the bucket list.
We decided to start our trip in Bologna because I have some dear family members who live there. Also, landing in Bologna was a lot cheaper than Milano, Venice, or even Rome. When you book your international flight, it’s always a good idea to check prices for smaller international airports. You might be able to save a few hundred dollars, and get to explore a new city.
I’ve been to Bologna before, but I do not remember much as I was a little nugget. Bologna is the hometown of my dear uncle (and Godfather) Tonino and his family. We had so much fun catching up with him and some of my cousins and their children. It was a lovely way to be welcomed home.
Here are some cool facts we found out about this wonderful city.
Bologna is the largest city of the Emilia-Romagna region. Its origin dates back to 1000 BC and it has been inhabited by various civilizations such as the Etruscans, Celts, and Romans. Bologna is the home of the oldest university in continuous operation in the world, The University of Bologna, which was founded in 1088. So it’s not surprising that this city is known for its Medieval flare. All throughout the city of Bologna you’ll be able to admire the many porticoes (arches). It is said that if you were to line up all of the Bolognese porticoes you would have a covered 36 km walk.
As many cities in Italy, Bologna is filled with churches and landmarks to see. Among the most famous landmarks in the city are Piazza Maggiore, San Luca, the fountain of Neptune, Saint Stefano Square, and the many towers.
St. Petronio Basilica
Started in 1390, this church was never fully completed. It is said that in 1514 Arduino degli Arriguzzi commissioned a plan to expand the church in the form of a Latin cross with the intent to outdo even Saint Peter’s Basilica of Rome. Tradition says Pope Pius IV halted said plans in order to keep Saint Peter Basilica’s title of largest church in the Western world. Nevertheless, this basilica is the largest church built of bricks in the world.
Torre degli Asinelli
Back in the 12th century, it was common for prominent families to build towers as a symbol of their power and wealth. Usually the family with the tallest tower was deemed the most important family in the city. It is said that between the 12th and 13th centuries Bologna had up to 180 towers. Today, less than ten towers remain standing, with the Asinelli and the Garisenda towers being the two most famous. If you do not mind heights and walking a good set of stairs, you can climb the Asinelli tower (the Garisenda tower was never finished) for a very small fee. The view from the top is breathtaking.
St. Stefano Basilica (the seven churches)
I will say this is my favorite place in all of Bologna. We were showed this church by my dear cousin Alfonso. Saint Stefano basilica is composed of seven religious structures right in the heart of the city. In this gorgeous basilica you will find quaint courtyards, ancient chapels, and historic artifacts dating back to the 4th century. Interestingly enough, my favorite poet and founding father of the Italian language, Dante Alighieri, would come to St. Stefano Basilica to study and write while he was a student at The University of Bologna. It is said that he found inspiration for The Divine Comedy in this place. It is definitely a must see!
Where to eat?
Bologna is renowned for its culinary tradition. This wonderful city is the home of Ragù alla Bolognese (Bolognese sauce), tortellini, tagliatelle (a wider fettuccine noodle), and of course Mortadella (from which American bologna derives). Bologna is filled with awesome restaurants and pizzerias, so no matter where you eat, do yourself a favor and eat some fresh made pasta!
If you are looking for the best homemade pasta in town, Sfoglia Rina is an excellent choice. This is a fresh pasta restaurant which also serves as a pasta shop. They make their pasta from scratch every morning and sell it by weight or they will prepare it for you; just make sure to make a reservation because there is always a huge line outside of their shop.
If instead you feel like eating a romantic meal al fresco, head over to Osteria del Podesta’. Their tagliatelle are to die for.
For all the wine connoisseurs out there, Tamburini is the right place for you. Try some of their amazing wines while eating a tagliere (cheese and meat board) and some piadina Romagnola (Italian version of a pita pocket)!
Bologna is such a wonderful city with so much to offer that I could write for days. If you are travelling with kids, you will love this city. Most of the historic downtown is a pedestrian zone, so you can stroll with your little ones without having to worry about traffic. This city offers many free family-friendly events on Sundays such as festivals, hiking excursions at Villa Ghigi, and so much more.
For all of the fashionistas out there, you can find everything your heart desires on Via dell’ Indipendenza. Zara, H&M, Piazza Italia, Yamamay, Caprisa, and even a Disney store, you can truly find anything you need.
I hope you enjoyed reading about Bologna and I hope this guide will help you with your future travel plans. Thank you so much for reading this long post and learning more about this wonderful city. Again, please leave a comment below, so I can thank you personally 🙂