10 things to see absolutely in Bologna

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Joel Fulleda

wikipedia.org, lonelyplanet.com

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Bologna is a young and full of life city: along the streets and in the large squares you can see many students.
The city enjoys great fame in the cultural field, as it is the seat of the prestigious Alma Mater Studiorum, or theUniversity of Bologna, considered among the best in the beautiful country and among the oldest in the world: the date of foundation conventionally dates back to the year 1088.
Bologna is wonderful to visit thanks to the numerous historical and cultural testimonies. The center, surrounded by ancient arcades, boasts fascinating monuments and prestigious buildings that combine well with the elegance of this particular city.
Let's find out what they are the attractions not to be missed.


  1. Piazza Maggiore
  2. Neptune Fountain
  3. Basilica of San Petronio
  4. The two Towers
  5. Civic Archaeological Museum
  6. National Art Gallery
  7. Piazzola Market
  8. St. Stephen's Basilica
  9. Basilica of San Domenico
  10. Church of Santa Maria della Vita
  11. The 7 "secrets" of Bologna
  12. User questions and comments

1 - Piazza Maggiore

A dynamic meeting point is Piazza Maggiore, the main square of Bologna, surrounded by the most important buildings of the medieval city such as Palazzo del Podestà and the great Basilica of San Petronio.
It is located in the heart of the city, adjacent to the equally famous Piazza del Nettuno; from here it is possible to reach practically every main attraction in a few minutes by crossing the most important streets: Via dell'Indipendenza, Via Galleria, with its numerous noble palaces, Via dell'Archiginnasio.

  • from the central station, take Via dell'Indipendenza for about 1,5 km. By bus, lines 11, 25, 27 and line A - Get directions
  • always accessible
  • free

2 - Fountain of Neptune

Very famous is also the Fountain of Neptune, a monumental fountain located in the homonymous square Nettuno, adjacent to Piazza Maggiore, which the inhabitants of the city call "the Giant" due to its size. Created by Giambologna in the th century, it is one of the most beautiful fountains of its period and hides one of the famous little "secrets" scattered throughout the city. In fact, positioning itself in a precise point marked on the ground, an optical effect shows the statue as if it had an erection in progress ...

  • from the central station, take via dell'ipendenza for about 1,5 km. By bus, lines 11, 25, 27 and line A - Get directions
  • always accessible
  • free

3 - Basilica of San Petronio

When construction work began on the Basilica of San Petronio in 1390, the initial project envisaged that it should be even larger than St. Peter's in Rome. Unfortunately, the initial intentions were not kept and the structure was never finished; to date the facade is incomplete. In the small museum at the back of the church, you can see them the drawings presented for the facade by various designers over the years, including those by the great architect Andrea Palladio.

  • from the central station, take via dell'ipendenza for about 1,6 km. By bus, lines 11, 25, 27 and line A - Get directions
  • Monday to Thursday from 07:45 am to 13:00 pm and from 14:00 pm to 18:00 pm. From Friday to Sunday from 07:45 to 18:00. Opening hours of the terrace: from Friday to Sunday from 10:00 to 13:00 and from 15:00 to 18:00. Chapel of the Magi: every day from 10:00 to 18:00
  • Free entrance to the basilica (€ 2,00 contribution to take photos), entrance to the terrace and the Magi Chapel € 3,00 each.

4 - The two Towers

The best known and most representative symbol of the city, however, are the two leaning towers: Torre degli Asinelli and Torre della Garisenda, built at the behest of the Ghibelline nobles in the th century. These are the two most famous, but there are actually many more.
In the beginning there were over 100, built around the 498th century, today about twenty remain. Their height was a kind of status symbol for the noble families of the time. Inside the Asinelli Tower you can climb steps and then admire a breathtaking "bird's eye view".

  • on foot, go along via dell'ipendenza for about 2 km. By bus, lines 11, 25, 27, 30 - Get directions
  • From 1 March to 5 November 09: 30-19: 30; admission every 45 minutes - last admission 18:30 From November 6 to February 28 09:30 - 17:45; admission every 45 minutes - last admission 16pm
  • € 5,00 full, € 3,00 reduced for under 12 and over 65; school groups; University students; groups of at least 20 participants; holders of the Musei Metropolitani Card.

5 - Civic Archaeological Museum

Even those who do not usually like to visit museums will undoubtedly appreciate the collection of the Civic Archaeological Museum.
Relics of prehistoric civilizations, Etruscan artifacts from the surrounding area, Celtic, Greek, Egyptian and Roman treasures: not a mixture of dusty relics, but a modern museum of brilliantly displayed artifacts.

  • From the central station, take via dell'ipendenza for about 1,7 km. By bus, lines 11, 25, 27 and line A - Get directions
  • Tuesday to Friday: 9:00 - 18:00. Saturdays, Sundays and holidays: 10:00 - 18:30. Closed: Mondays (not holidays), New Year's Eve.
  • full € 5,00 / reduced € 3,00 (over 65, under 25, groups of at least 10). Free on the first Sunday of the month.

6 - National Picture Gallery

Since its foundation, the Pinacoteca has a unique mission: to preserve works by artists who lived and worked in Bologna and Emilia-Romagna between the thirteenth and nineteenth centuries. Each of the works kept in the gallery has a story in itself: some were found in old cellars or recovered from the ruins of churches and ruined buildings, others were even "looted" during the Napoleonic campaigns in Italy, and only later brought back "home" .

  • walk from the central station, go along via independence to via Irnerio, here turn left to via Bertoloni and immediately right to via Belle Arti. By bus, lines 32, 36, 101, 206, 211, 237, 273, 918 and line C - Get directions
  • Tuesday to Sunday: 8am - 30pm. midweek holidays: 19:30 - 8:30 closed on Mondays. Ticket office closes and last admission 19 minutes before the indicated times.
  • full € 6,00 reduced € 3,00 for young people aged between 18 and 25 years. Free for all citizens under the age of 18, for holders of the Musei Metropolitani di Bologna Card and every first Sunday of the month.

7 - Piazzola Market

La Piazzola is the oldest and most famous open-air market in the city. It is held every Friday and Saturday from sunrise to sunset, in the huge Piazza Mercato in the center of Bologna, adjacent to the Giardino della Montagnola. La Piazzola began in 1251 as a livestock market and today boasts over 400 street vendors and artisans who sell just about everything: handicrafts, new and used clothing, footwear, household items, cosmetics and more.

  • On foot from the central station, take via dell'ipendenza until via Irnerio, then turn left and immediately right into Piazza dell'8 Agosto. By bus, lines 11, 27, 36, 37, lines A and C - Get directions
  • every Friday and Saturday of the year from sunrise to sunset except January 1st - Easter - December 25th and 26th
  • free

8 - Basilica of Santo Stefano

Part of the complex of the Seven Churches, is located in the homonymous square, embellished by the presence of the other now 4 buildings that roughly follow the same style, albeit from different eras.
The initial idea was probably to "imitate" the San Sepolcro in Jerusalem, and in fact adjacent to the church is the Basilica del Sepolcro, which together with the church of the Protomartyrs Santi Vitale and Agricola, the Church of the Trinity and the Museum of Santo Stefano complete the complex.

  • On foot from the central station, take via dell'ipendenza to via Rizzoli, then turn left to piazzale della Mercanzia and then right onto via Santo Stegano. By bus, lines 11, 25, 27, and line C - Get directions
  • every day 9:15 - 18:00; summer: 9:15 - 19:15
  • free offer

9 - Basilica of San Domenico

It is one of the most important places of worship in the city, and preserves the remains of the saint founder of the order in the Ark of San Domenico.
From the th century, with a Romanesque facade and a central rose window, it has three naves with several side chapels. Inside it contains works of great value by masters such as Filippino Lippi, Francesco di Simone Ferrucci, Ludovico Carracci. Among other things, in the basilica there is also the organ that Mozart used during his period of study in Bologna.

  • On foot from the central station, take via dell'ipendenza until via Rizzoli, then turn left and immediately right towards piazza Maggiore. Continue on via dell'Archiginnasio, then from piazzale Cavour continue on via Garofalo to the destination. By bus, lines 11, 25, 27 and line C - Get directions
  • Monday to Friday 9:00 - 12:00 and 15:30 - 18:00; Saturday 9:00 - 12:00 and 15:30 - 17:00 and Sunday 15:30 - 17:00. During masses, tourist visits may be limited or suspended.
  • free

10 - Church of Santa Maria della Vita

Small and not well known, it contains a work considered among the greatest masterpieces of Italian sculpture: the "Lamentation of the Dead Christ", by Niccolò dell'Arca. The sculptural group, built in the 400s, shows all the pain and agony in the faces of the protagonists. Even Gabriele D'Annunzio called it a "Scream of Stone".
By itself, the thirteenth-century church is considered the most important example of Bolognese Baroque. In addition to the Compianto, the Museum and the Oratory can be visited.

  • On foot from the central station, take via dell'ipendenza to Piazza Maggiore, then turn left into Via Clavature. By bus, lines 11, 25, 27 and line A - Get directions
  • Sanctuary from Tuesday to Sunday 10:00 - 19:00 closed on Mondays. Compianto from Tuesday to Sunday 10:30 - 18:30 closed on Mondays.
  • for the Compianto: full € 4,00; reduced € 2,00 (groups of min 15 pax, young people aged 6 to 18, university students). Integrated ticket Compianto + Museum and Oratory: full € 8,00; reduced € 5,00

The 7 "secrets" of Bologna

  1. The erection of the Statue of Neptune: it can be admired in Piazza Nettuno in a marked point on earth.
  2. Little Venice: a glimpse of Venice in Bologna visible near Via Piella from a small view of the Canale delle Moline.
  3. Canabis Protectio: in the corner between Via Indipendenza and Via Rizzoli there is a portico with a curious phrase: "Bread is life, cannabis is protection, wine is joy".
  4. The "wireless telephone" under the Voltone del Podestà: position yourself at opposite corners of the dome of Palazzo Podestà and despite the considerable distance you will be able to speak and hear yourself clearly.
  5. Three Arrows in the portico of Strada Maggiore 26: according to the legend a girl distracted with her graces some bandits intent on committing a murder. The arrows fired, instead of hitting the target, ended up on the porch.
  6. The broken vase of Torre degli Asinelli: at the top of the tower there would be a broken vase that represents the capacity of the city in the resolution of conflicts, but no one has ever managed to see it.
  7. The 666 arches of the Portico of San Luca: its almost 3.800 meters in length make it one of the longest arcades in the world. And this number 666?

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