One of Italy’s best kept secrets, Bologna is a delightful city to visit on Italy personalized tours if you want to the authentic Bel Paese. Great for short stays or longer vacations, the capital city of Emilia Romagna will keep you busy.
Climb the tower For the best panorama of the city, walk up 498 steps to the top of the in the 11th century Asinelli’s tower. Measuring 97 metres it is the tallest of almost 20 towers in the city built by local noble families as symbols of prestige and power. The tower beside it, the Garisenda, leans due to subsidence of soil.
Stroll under the arcades Another famous feature of Bologna are porticoes (portici), or arched walkways. Originally constructed in wood and then rebuilt in stone, the elegant arcades run for 25 miles throughout the city. The arcade of Casa Isolani in Strada Maggiore is the only surviving portico made in wood in 1250.
Visit the ancient university Founded in 1088, the University of Bologna is the oldest university in the Western world. Dante, Boccaccio and Petrarca and other illustrious figures studied here throughout the centuries. Archiginnasio, the first seat of the University of Bologna, boasts a stunning library stocked with more than 500,000 texts and 12,000 manuscripts. You can also see the old Teatro Anatomico where human corpses were dissected in front of the students.
Discover the city’s canals Venice is famous for its canals but fewer travellers know that Bologna also has a complex network of ancient waterways running under the city. They were built in medieval times to connect the city with the Po River and were used for transportations and water mills. Head to Via Piella to see one of the beautiful canals and take a few snapshots.
Enjoy the food Bologna is famous for its cuisine. Italians often say that it is the food capital of Italy and affectionately call the city “La Grassa”, which means “The Fat Lady” because of its hearty meat-base dishes. The city is home to stuffed pasta tortellini, pasta tagliatelle alla bolognese, lasagna that you will find in many traditional local restaurants. Also make sure to try the famous cold cut meat mortadella with freshly-baked crescentine buns.
Photos via Flickr by: Pietro Garrone, Michele Ursino, Jacqueline Poggi, Ferdinando Marfella.