Get a Bologna Welcome Card. It is available for 48 hours. The card gives you free access to the city’s museums and facilities, a tourist map with an itineraries and places of interest, free WiFi in the city, two tickets for the BLQ shuttle bus or one 24-hour pass for public transport.
There are discounts and special offers for clubs, shops, restaurants, health clubs and leisure activities. It is available at all tourist offices.
Visit these top sites in Bologna:
- Walk under the unique covered arcades, Portici, for a total of 38 km. The portici are currently nominated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
- “Today the historic centre of Bologna, that is to say the area included into the city walls of the XIIIth century, contains some 38 kilometres of porticoes build during a long historic period. (through XIth – XXth century). In addition, it is important to mention the 4-kilometer-wall built in 1674, driving to the Sanctuary of the Madonna of Luca, on the hill of La Guardia. Thanks to their great diffusion and permanence, the Porticoes of Bologna are considered as ‘outstanding universal value’.” UNESCO
3. Check out Piazza Maggiore in the center of town.
Palazzo D’Accursio/Palazzo Comunale, Piazza Maggiore 6, ☎ +39 051 203111. Tu-Su 10AM-6PM. A 14th-century palace. There is an enormous main staircase designed to be used by horse drawn carriages. This is the home of the Municipal Art Collection and the Museo Morandi.
The Basilica of San Petronio, Piazza Maggiore, ☎ +39 051 231415. Daily 8AM-12:30PM & 3PM-6PM.
The “Duomo” of Bologna is the 15th largest church in the world by volume. The Basilica houses various treasures including: the sundial by Cassini and Guglielmini, which indicates the exact period of the current year at all times; the “San Rocco” by Parmigianino and the marvelous Bolognini Chapel. There is also a museum to the left nave of the basilica where bas-reliefs are on
5. Check out Piazza del Nettuno, which contains the Fontana di Nettuno, a fountain built in 1563 by Tommaso Laureti of Palermo and later embellished by Jean de Boulogne (Giambologna). It is considered to be one iconic yymbols of Bologna.
6. Go to Via Rizzoli; one of the main streets of Bologna. It opens up to Piazza di Porta Ravegnana, where two famous towers rise:
- Torre degli Asinelli and Torre dei Garisenda (The Two Towers), Piazza di Porta Ravegnana. 9AM-6PM. The main symbols of Bologna, built in the 12th century.
- Torre degli Asinelli is 330 feet tall, with 498 steps and an incline of 4 feet.
- Torre dei Garisenda (closed to the public) is 162 feet tall and has a lean of over 10 feet. €3 to climb Torre degli Asinelli.
7. Check out Corte de’ Galluzzi through a vault from Piazza Galvani, in front of the Archiginnasio.
- 8. Go to the University Quarter on Via Zamboni where you will find plenty of bars and cafés. The University of Bologna is the oldest university in the world. It was founded in 1088.
- 9. Tour the Orto Botanico (Botanical Gardens), Via Irnerio 42. M-F 8:30AM-3:30PM, Sa 8:30AM-1PM. Created in the mid-16th century for medicinal herbs. The Botanical Gardens are home to over 5,000 plant species. Admission is Free.
- 10. Go to Certosa di Bologna on Via della Certosa 18. Daily 7AM-6PM. This is Bologna’s main cemetery with beautifully carved tombstones, built over the ruins of an ancient Etrusan necropolis.
- Bologna was a city of canals much like Venice. Today most of the canals are underground but in Via Piella you can still see “il canale delle Moline” through a small charming window or “finestrella”.
11. Visit these churches and architectural wonders in Bologna:
- Tombe dei Glossatori, Piazza San Domenico e Piazza Malpighi. Named for the lawyers who used to add glosses (notes) to documents. The tombs, which date from the end of the 13th century, are monumental arches covered with shrines, supported by columns decorated with beautiful tiles, and the remains of many of Bologna’s famous scholars.
- Basilica di Santo Stefano is one of the most famous sights of the city on Piazza Santo Stefano. “Sette Chiese” is called Seven Churches, a complex of connected chapels with the 2 earliest religious edifices in Bologna, the Holy Sepulchre from the 5th century and the Holy Crucifix from the 8th century.
- Santuario della Madonna di San Luca (San Luca’s Basilica), Colle della Guardia. Completed in 1765 there is a fabulous “Vino con Vista panoramic view of the City. The over 650 arches of the portico that connect the sanctuary to the city and provide shelter for the annual procession. Since 1433, the procession leads the Byzantine Madonna and Child to the cathedral in the city center during Ascension week. Its construction began in 1674 with the building of the Bonaccorsi archway by G. G. Monti over Porta Saragozza. Walk along the 666 arches of its unique portico to find the “Madonna di San Luca”.
- Basilica of San Domenico, Piazza San Dominico 13, ☎ +39 051 6400411. Houses the remains of Saint Dominic, founder of the Order of Preachers (Dominicans) inside the shrine Arca di San Domenico, made by Nicola Pisano and his workshop, Arnolfo di Cambio and with later additions by Niccolò dell’Arca and the young Michelangelo.
Admire “Catherine of Lippi”
To the right of the main altar of the Basilica of San Domenico, you can find a magnificent painting by Florentine artist Filippino Lippi. Saint Catherine of Alexandria is kneeling at the feet of the Virgin and the Child.
- The scene is surrounded with the four saints:
- St. John the Baptist, with the processional cross and camel skins,
- San Pietro, portrait and hoary with the keys in hand,
- St. Paul with the sword, a symbol of his sharp tongue and
- the martyr St. Sebastian, pierced by the arrows and bound to the column.
The artist painted this painting in the last years of his career in 1501.
The church’s small museum houses many important works of art and a wide collection of precious reliquaries and chalices.
- Santa Maria della Vita, Via Clavature 8-10, ☎ +39 051 236245.
- Museum & Oratory: Tu-Su 10AM-12PM & 3PM-7PM;
- Sanctuary: M-Saturday 7:30AM-7PM Sunday & holidays 4:30PM-7:30PM.
- Dr. EveAnn Lovero writes Italy Travel Guides @ www.vino-con-vista.com