Many people choose to extend their bike or walking tour in Italy by visiting Bologna. This could be easily done if you have scheduled an adventure on Italiaoutdoors programs in Northern or Central Italy.
Many Italians refer to Bologna affectionately as "la grassa" meaning "the fat one" because of the city's strong culinary traditions and love affair with food. Cured hams, huge mortadella sausages, stuffed pasta or spaghetti with rich meat sauces and a generous sprinkling of parmesan cheese are ubiquitous. But the city is also home to Italy's oldest university, which today means a young and politically vibrant population, and it has retained its medieval flavour with colourful colonnaded streets which make exploring on foot a real pleasure.
Basilica di San Petronio
Not the main cathedral of Bologna but certainly the city's most impressive church, this Basilica is the fifth largest in the world and is dedicated to the city's patron saint.
This bustling area of town is the most interesting for market stalls selling a colourful array of fresh produce and tempting delicatessens offering hams, salamis and local cheeses.
Torre degli Asinelli
Bologna still has over 20 medieval towers but the tallest is this one, standing at 97.6 metres and dating back to the 1100s. If you feel strong you can climb to the top up its 498 steps for a great view over the city. It is open 9.00 am - 5.00 pm. Next to it is the Torre Garisenda at 48 metres, and you will see that both of them lean!
Eataly and FICO Food Park
This is the now famous "supermarket" dedicated to the very best of traditional Italian food and wine. In Bologna you can visit the store at Via degli Orefici 19, close to the historic centre of town. On the outskirts of Bologna is the new FICO food park, which is easily reached by a bus opposite the train station, and celebrates all Slow Food initiatives and traditional methods of cultivation and preparation of Italy's finest food.
L'Archiginnasio di Bologna
This beautiful porticoed building was commissioned in the middle of the 1500s to house the city lecture halls and was the seat of the University until 1803. In 1838 it became the Municipal library.
Bologna Arts Hotels
The group Bologna Arts Hotels has four lovely 3 and 4 star properties which are all well placed in the centre of the city.
Albergo delle Drapperie
Historic building that has been used as a guest house since 1800. A good valued 3 star hotel is centrally positioned for all the major sights.
€€ Osteria de' Poeti
This historic eatery is situated in a 14th century palazzo. Serves hearty local Bolognese dishes. Via de' Poeti 1/b Tel +39 051 236166
€€ Ristorante Cesarina
For very traditional Bolognese dishes. Via Santo Stefano, 19/B, Tel +39 051 232037
€ Trattoria Mariposa
Simple home-made food, good value and friendly service.
Via Bertiera 12 Tel +39 051 225656
€ Trattoria del Rosso
Said to be the oldest in the city this popular trattoria offers exceptional fixed-price menus and some good vegetarian options. Via Augusto Rigi 30 Tel +39 051 236730
€ Trattoria da Gianni
Tucked away in the Quadrilatero district, this trattoria is well known and good for lunch. Via Clavature 18 Tel +39 051 229434
€€ Ristorante Al Voltone
In the Modern Art Museum this place is recommended for Sunday Brunch. Via Don Minzoni Tel +39 051 649 3896.
In Piazza Galvani, the oldest cafe in the city, and highly recommended for coffee or an aperitif.
Bologna's Guglielmo Marconi airport is 8km to the north of the city and there is a half hourly shuttle bus link between the airport and the main railway station. From the station it is an easy walk into the middle of Bologna, straight along Via dell'Independenza. Bologna is a major hub and has excellent rail links with Florence, Rome, Milan and smaller cities in Emilia-Romagna eg. Parma, Modena and Ferrara.
For all train information visit www.trenitalia.com which has an English version. Train travel in Italy is inexpensive and comfortable. Major cities are served by non-stop fast trains known as the Eurostar.
If you are making plans for wider Europe then www.raileurope-world.com is a useful site.
NTV (Nuovo Trasporto Viaggiatori) is a new private company which started operating it's Italo high-speed trains on the Milan-Florence-Rome-Naples route in April 2012, in competition with State-owned operator Trenitalia. NTV have added new routes subsequently and are Europe's first private high-speed train operator, with a real emphasis on customer service. Travellers should be aware that the city stations used are not always the same as those used by Trenitalia.
Italy is one of the most diverse places in the world to visit but there is more to the country then Venice, Florence, Roma, Cinque Terre and a couple of other top attractions. If you plan you days well and understand how to move around within the country you can a great cost effective vacation full of activity, history, culture, and great food and wine. Contact us to get the insights to travel in Italy. We offer: