What to see and do in Bologna? Easy: Walk. Eat. Walk. Eat. Walk. Eat. That pretty much sums up what I like to do in Bologna.
Bologna is a mid-sized city, so it’s easy to get around on foot, and there are literally miles and miles of covered arcades, so it doesn’t matter if the weather is bad. Being a university town, it has a great, energetic vibe.
The city has a (surprise) long and rich history that is visible practically everywhere in its extremely well-preserved historic center: take in the art and architecture on its streets, look up to admire its towers, spend time in its outdoor squares, or duck into some of its many churches for a sample of Medieval, Baroque and Renaissance art.
First, know this: Emilia-Romagna is the foodie region of Italy so you should take eating in Bologna very seriously. In fact, I would recommend making yourself a checklist of foods to try in the area. Don’t leave without tasting the famous Bolognese pasta sauce, or ragù. Try any of the cured pork meats like prosciutto or mortadella, and while the area is not as well known for its wine as other Italian regions, it’s worth trying the wine from nearby vineyards. Bologna is the perfect place to find some freshly-baked bread, some local sliced meats, some local cheeses (this is also parmigiano reggiano territory) and some fresh fruit, and sit in a piazza to people-watch and picnic. I could spend hours in the Mercato Delle Erbe.
In Bologna (and – as an aside – in Venice too) my favorite thing to do is follow the smallest streets I can see (not the completely deserted ones though!) and get good and lost. Then I pull out my map, and slowly find my way back, making neat local discoveries along the way.
Photos by Sanjay
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