Not as commercial as Florence and Venice, but offering just as much attractions. Bologna is an enchanting place. Tourists are attracted by the atmosphere and delicious cuisine, with particular emphasis on excellent pizza.
Capricious weather won’t disturb strolls around historic center of Bologna, because you can walk under the arcades. They’re spacious enough, because they were built in order to fit even a rider on a horseback. But Bologna is famous not only for arcades built around its old part, but also for the number of museums, and of course, for Bolognese sauce, steaming invitingly on top of spaghetti.
If someone plans to visit this beautiful Italian city with the desire to visit as many attractions as possible, he should obtain the so-called Bologna Welcome Card. It’s a card valid for 48 hours, which entitles you to discounts when booking accommodation, discounts in restaurants, as well as unlimited use of Wi-Fi points. It provides a free admission to museums and one of the forms of communication in the city.
Exploring Bologna - where to start?
The heart of Bologna is Piazza Maggiore with Neptune fountain made of bronze. Next to it stands the thirteenth-century Palazzo del Podestà and the former stock exchange, Ex Sala Borsa. Today it houses the town library, attracting not only with the collections of priceless books, but also with the remnants of sidewalks and the forum of the Roman Empire. We can see it under the glass floor of the library.
Right next to the square stands one of the largest Gothic churches in Italy - Basilica of San Petronio. Its creation was delayed for centuries, because of lack of funds, but was finally completed in seventeenth century. In the left aisle there’s an astronomical clock - if someone wanders inside the basilica at noon, will be able to see a ray of light indicating day and month on the floor. Equally noteworthy are the paintings by Giovanni da Modena in the chapels of the temple, as well as Jacopo della Quercia’s reliefs adorning the main entrance portal.
Medieval Bologna was famous for its high towers, built at the behest of wealthy families. The higher the tower, the more affluent customer. To this day, only 2 out of nearly 200 have survived - Torre della Garisenda and Torre degli Asinelli. The second, higher, is available for tourists who after reaching its peak (and covering exactly 498 steps) can admire the magnificent panorama of the city. Torre della Garisenda was quite heavily affected by the teeth of time – only a half of it has survived.
The oldest university in Europe
Speaking of Bologna, you cannot forget about the most important thing, which is the oldest university in Europe - University of Bologna, founded in the early eleventh century. Among the lecturers was Umberto Eco, but there was also a lot of women. A nice accent for the Poles is the statue of one of the students, Nicolaus Copernicus.
The headquarters of the university is Palazzo Poggi, where you can see the scientific collections or simply walk through the corridors and see the plaques and sculptures. Earlier, the university was situated in Palazzo dell'Archiginnasio. One of the biggest attractions of the palace is the famous seventeenth-century Hall Anatomica, where one the first autopsies were carried out. The building is also famous for the huge Municipal Library, the largest in the whole region of Emilia-Romagna.
Where to stay in Bologna?
You cannot use car in the center, so it’s worth a look around for parking. If someone wants to stay in Bologna a bit longer, may consider leaving the vehicle a little further and use a public transport. About 5 km north from the heart of the city is Centro Turistico Città di Bologna – a hotel, campsite and stand for vehicles. Nightly accommodation for an adult costs 6.5-7.5 euro, position for vehicle - from 11 to 13 euro per day. One of the advantages of the campsite is an easy access to the center, while the downside might be that it’s sometimes quite noisy. But the city itself is noisy as well, especially in the evening.
How we’ll remember Bologna? As a city of arcades, stretching for approx. 30 km. As the city of bolognese sauce and mortadella, towers and juicy red roofs. It’s really breathtaking.