The other weekend some friends were traveling around Italy and they stopped in to Bologna to visit us. We had just 24 short hours to show them around our stomping grounds. Surprisingly, Bologna isn’t in every travel guidebook. For example, in Rick Steves’ 2014 travel guide to Italy it says that Bologna is a town to skip over- I honestly don’t know how Rick Steves got so famous because he definitely has some brushing up to do on Italy.
Bologna is a gem. It isn’t flocking with tourists and this university town is full of character, history, and beauty. Plus it’s nickname “La rossa, la dotta, la grassa” (the red, the learned, and the fat) is enticing enough to stop by and see one of the world’s oldest anatomy classrooms, grab a bowl of tortellini, and walk the miles of portico-lined streets.
So with just one day on hand to show our beloved city to some friends we set out to give them a snapshot of Bella Bologna. Keeping in mind that we had our 9 month old baby with us and that we couldn’t walk the whole day we had to choose only a few places to show them.
We started the morning out by grabbing the typical Italian breakfast of brioches and a cappuccino at the bar on the corner below our apartment.
Our walking itinerary started near the train station. We headed south down Via Indipendenza and window shopped the endless store fronts that line the street. We made a pit stop at “Little Venice” in Via Malcontenti where there is a picturesque view of a small canal.
We continued on into the university area of the city. Down Via delle Moline into Pizza Verdi then up Via Zamboni stopping below the 2 towers. We contemplated climbing the almost 500 steps to the top of La Torre Asinelli to admire the view but decided against it -however if you the time and energy it’s definitely worth the climb.
Then we meandered through the historic market in Via Pescherie Vecchie to get to Piazza Maggiore. We enjoyed showing the secret of whispering in the four corners and Neptune’s fountain, but didn’t have enough time to walk through Sala Borsa and take a peek at the Roman ruins below.
We headed down Via d’Azeglio turning onto Via Farini working our way to our lunch spot – La Tua Piadina in Via Borgonuovo. Here we had a typical Bolognese sandwich which is a type of wrap made with lard and filled with pretty much anything you want – for example mortadella (where bologna meat comes from but way better), prosciutto crudo, raddichio, and cheeses like mozzarella, smoked scamorza and stracciatella. Lunch is incomplete without gelato so we went down to Via Castiglione and got one of the arguably best gelatos in the world at La Sorbetteria Castiglione.
Satisfied and with our bellies full we continued our walk into Piazza Santo Stefano. Because it was a Saturday there was the antiques market going on. We enjoyed looking through all the old fascinating trinkets on display. We went into the Sette Chiese (7 churches) and admired the different church styles dating back to the 4th Century. Feeling pretty tired from all the walking we headed back home to relax and freshen up before going out for an aperitivo.
Rested up and ready to hit the town again, we headed down Via Marconi down to Piazza San Francesco and eventually to Bar Barazzo in Via Pratello for a round of spritzes (aperol and prosecco with an orange slice).
We finished off the evening by heading out of the city center to San Lazzero to eat at one of our favorite pizzeria’s – Galeone which makes oven baked Vera Pizza Napoletana. There is so much more to see and do in Bologna but with just 24 hours at our disposal we tried to give a taste of what life is like here. We looked at some shops, saw the university side of the town, some historic sites, ate typical Bolognese food, and got a snippet of the night life.
If you ever plan to visit Bologna just let me know and I’ll make sure you don’t miss out on anything!