Visiting Bologna - What to See and Do

(Bologna Guglielmo Marconi International Airport BLQ, Italy)

Bologna is located in the Emilia-Romagna region of north-east Italy. Bologna is an attractive city and one of Italy's oldest.

Tourism in Bologna is much quieter than other Italian cities such as Rome or Venice, making the city a pleasant getaway from the normal tourist trail. In 2000, the city was deemed a European City of Culture.

The city of Bologna is home to Europe's oldest university (founded in 1088), giving the city one of its nicknames, 'Bologna the learned'. Other names it is known by reveal some of the city's characteristics, in particular 'Bologna the fat', for its love of food, and 'Bologna the red', for the red tiled roofs of the buildings and the strong left political stance of the people.

Ten things you must do in Bologna

  • Take a guided bus or walking tour around Bologna - the ideal way to take in popular attractions and get a feel for life in the city.
  • Visit the church of Santa Maria della Vita on via Clavature. The church houses some incredible artwork, with Nicolo dell'Arca's 'Pieta' being the main attraction.
  • Journey two and a half miles from the centre of Bologna into the hills until you reach the 18th-century Sanctuary of San Luca (Santuario di San Luca). The journey to the sanctuary is the main attraction, passing 15 chapels and 666 arches along the way.
  • Take in the wonderful artefacts on display at the Archaeological Museum (Museo Civico Archeologico) housed at the 15th-century Ospedale della Morte. The museum has sections containing Egyptian, Roman, Etruscan and Numismatic period displays.
  • Visit the Stock Exchange (Sala Borsa) building that has been transformed into Italy's largest multimedia library; the Roman remains and stunning interior have been well preserved despite the conversion.
  • Walk around the superb Fountain of Neptune (Fontana del Nettuno) on Piazza Nettuno. The impressive bronze statue has a light and sound show close-by showing the history of Bologna.
  • Look out over the city's red rooftops from the top of the Torre degli Asinelli tower, situated at the end of via Rizzoli.
  • Stroll around the University Quarter in modern Bologna, north-east of Le Due Torri, and take in the atmosphere created by Europe's oldest university. Many busy bars and cafés are located here, serving both international and Italian students.
  • Visit the National Gallery (Pinacoteca Nazionale) on via Belli Arti. The gallery contains artworks from the 14th to the 16th century. Among the important paintings housed here are El Greco's 'Last Supper' and Raphael's 'Ecstasy of St Cecilia'.
  • See the Basilica of St Stephen (Basilica di Santo Stefano) situated in the piazza of the same name. The Basilica is a compound of connecting churches and courtyards, most of which were built in the 5th century. The Basilica of St Petronius (Basilica di San Petronio) is another must-see in Piazza Maggiore.

Bologna Airport BLQ

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