San Petronio, Piazza Maggiore and Palazzo d’Accursio, photo taken from the top of the Two Towers, Bologna, Italy. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Think of a city in Italy. Perhaps places like Venice, Rome, and Florence came to mind. In fact, when we traveled to Italy for the first time this past May, we visited precisely those cities: Venice, Rome, Florence, the villages of Cinque Terre, and the Amalfi Coast. However, there is a charming city in Italy that many tourists overlook that you may want to consider adding to your Italian holiday itinerary. That place is Bologna, the capital and biggest city of the Emilia-Romagna region.
Here are the top 3 reasons you should add Bologna to your bucket list.
Bologna as a History-Lover’s Dream
Bologna is chock full of historical marvels. Its city center is among the best preserved in all of Italy. Bologna is famous for its two 12th century towers in Piazza di Porta Ravegnana, Torre degli Asinelli (Tower of the Asinelli) and Torre dei Garisenda (Tower of the Garisenda). It is possible to climb Torre degli Asinelli for stunning views of the region.
The University of Bologna is also the oldest university in continental Europe, founded in 1088. There is a thriving and youthful student population living in the town. Be sure to take a stroll down the University Quarter on Via Zamboni to visit some great cafés, pubs and bars.
There are many museums and art galleries in Bologna. Tourists can pick up a Museum Card for one or three days to gain access to many museums, as well as a discount at others.
Bologna as a Foodie Paradise
Bologna may be most renowned for its cuisine; it is thought to be the gastronomic capital of Italy. Though most traditional dishes heavily emphasize meat and cheese, it is possible to find vegan meals in Bologna. Botanica Lab focuses on raw, vegan, and gluten-free meals that are super healthy. La Margherita is a vegan café serving up pizza, salads, sandwiches, and delectable desserts. There’s also the Pistinega Juice Lab where you’ll find freshly pressed juices, smoothies, vegan food, and even cooking classes in the evening. Bologna has restaurants for every taste, ensuring that there are delicious meals for all tastes and dietary choices. Of course, pair your meal with a glass of Italian wine!
Bologna as an Artistic Center
Did you know that Bologna was named a Creative City for Music for UNESCO in 2006? During the 19th century, the Bologna Philharmonic Academy attracted the talents of Brahms, Verdi, Wagner, Liszt, and Puccini. It’s very easy to hear music being performed in Bologna, whether you visit the Conservatory, the Opera School, or dozens of other venues. You can also find many artistic masterpieces in Bologna created by Michaelangelo, Cassini, and Giotto. In July, there is a renowned film festival celebrating restored silent films, films with sound, and more modern classics.
If you’re looking to escape the droves of tourists and enjoy historical sites, the arts, and delicious food, consider Bologna for your next holiday. There are many affordable hotels in Bologna where you can make yourself at home.