La Dotta (cultured), La Grassa (fat), La Rossa (red): that’s Bologna, the place where you’ll eat the best tagliatelle al ragù, where you can see the oldest University of the occidental world and hundreds of red arches. Come and meet the Medieval Bologna.
2 Days in Medieval Bologna
Start your day at Piazza Maggiore, the most famous in town. It’s impossible not to notice the monumental Basilica di San Petronio, the 15th biggest Catholic Church in the world. The entrance is free.
It’s in this piazza that you’ll also find Palazzo dei Banchi, Palazzo dei Notai and Palazzo d’Accursio that functioned as the city’s Town Hall until 2008.
Go around Piazza Maggiore until you’ll find Piazza del Nettuno, with the famous statue of Neptune right in the center: it’s all made of bronze and it was built in the 16th Century by the famous artist Giambologna.
Take a break to have lunch. It’s impossible to talk about Bologna without thinking about spaghetti bolognese, isn’t it? Tagliatelle al ragù (the original dish where the spaghetti came from) or tortelloni with Parmesan cheese… What will you have? Enjoy your meal in one of Piazza Maggiore’s restaurants.
With a full stomach, it’s time to move on to Basilica di Santo Stefano, built with ancient Roman columns.
Go ahead until you’ll find Bologna’s Archiginnasio, the building where the oldest university of the occidental world used to be. It opened to the public in 1088 and the visit is definitely worth of your time: you must see the Anatomic Theatre, all made of wood and decorated with amazing sculptures.
If you love religious art, Santuario di Maria della Vita it’s also a mandatory stop. The must see of this church is the Compianto sul Cristo Morto, an ancient sculpture with 7 real sized statues.
The meeting point is at Piazza Malpighi. Wear some comfortable shoes, because you’re going to walk to Santuario di Madonna di San Luca, a little far from the city center. You’ll know you have arrived once you see a church surrounded by trees.
In order to simplify the life of hundreds of pilgrims on their way to the church, San Luca Arch was built in 1674 and it's the longest arch in the world! There are 4 kilometers of red arch’s that connect the church to the city.
Go back to Piazza Malpighi and have lunch with a view to the most famous towers in town, Asinelli and Garisenda. Bologna once had over 100 of these towers and the higher they were, more powerful was the family that owned it.
After lunch, it’s time to do some exercise and climb the almost 500 steps of Asinelli tower. We promise the view is definitely worth it!
Don’t forget to visit San Domenico’s church, one of the most important churches in town. The remains of St. Domenico are still inside.
One of the perks of being a city full of students is its animated nightlife. Via Zamboni, Via Marsala or even Piazza Maggiore are great meeting points to start the evening. Sit down, relax and drink a delicious Spritz!
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