Bologna Travel Guide
Introduction to Bologna
Nestled in a less visited corner of Northern Italy, the city of Bologna might require you to brush up on your rusty Italian language skills, but with all the assets that it has to offer, the effort in doing so will be worth it.
From being home to one of the tastiest of the various Italian regional cuisines and the Lamborghini brand, to having one of the oldest universities in the Western world, there is much to discover in this city off the beaten track.
Cultural Experiences in Bologna
As odd as it looks, the first cultural sight you should see while in Bologna is the San Petronio Basilica. Ranking as the 15th largest church in the world, it is not a lightweight as far as Christian points of interest are concerned.
It is the biggest Gothic style church in the world exclusively built with bricks, and it has a number of provocative murals and frescoes painted in its interior.
What it draws the most attention for however, was the fact that more than half of the exterior facade was left unfinished by the original builders.
Architects attempted in vain to come up with a solution of how to make the top part of the exterior match what had already been completed on the bottom. They couldn’t come to a consensus, and thus, it has remained in its unfinished state to this day.
Bologna has a number of interesting museums scattered throughout the city, but if you only have time for a few, we recommend that you start your expedited tour by visiting the Archaeological Civic Museum of Bologna.
Home to artifacts recovered from prehistoric times to the days of the Romans, the building that was once known as the Hospital of Death by locals now houses a good deal of the past heritage of this region.
In addition to local finds, this museum also houses an Egyptian exhibit, which contains sarcophagi and other relics that were found in Egyptian tombs in the Valley of the Kings.
One of the biggest cultural elements that one can experience in this city is Bolognese cuisine. One of the best loved of all the various subsets of Italian cuisine, you can find local specialties being made in the manner that they were meant to be eaten at local restaurants throughout Bologna.
Try to avoid restaurants near tourist attractions, instead opting to dine at places recommended by locals (ask staff at your accommodation where the better places can be found in town).
When you have eaten your weight in Bolognese food, you might want to learn how to make it yourself for when you get home.
There are many cooking classes that can be taken in this city; inquire on this matter through your hotel or hostel, and learn how to branch out from cooking pasta in a day filled with mouth watering lessons.
Other Attractions in Bologna
Looking for a place to relax after a hard day of seeing sights? Piazza Maggiore is the best place to go when your feet have simply had enough. Lined with cafes serving the best coffee in the region, you’ll find a relaxing place to watch the world go by as you plot your next destination in the city.
The Towers of Bologna makes for an excellent centrepoint to your sightseeing on your second day in town, as they are the remnants of a time when the nobles that ruled parts of Italy were at loggerheads with the Vatican over a few key various geopolitical issues during the 12th and 13th centuries.
They were built by nobles looking to assert their dominance in this part of the country, and at one time, over 180 of these squat ugly towers dotted the Bolognese skyline.
Today, only two remain, with only one accessible to those willing to climb its rickety steps. The other leans more than three metres off its base, making it far too dangerous to allow the public access.
Finally, the Lamborghini Museum makes for a fun afternoon for those that are into fast cars, as it profiles the history of one of Italy’s most famous sports car brands.
Models are available from the first build in 1964, to the latest models that have rolled off their production floor.