Italy's history as a patchwork of rival nation-states has left it with impressive diversity between its cities. Bologna, the capital of the Emilia Romagna region, is in the north of the country and is not too far north of Florence. But Bologna has a history, a cuisine, and a culture all of its own.
As a regional transit hub, Bologna is a great place to add to any Italian vacation. Like most places in Italy, you can expect fantastic food, impressive architecture, and lots of things to do. And while Bologna doesn't get the massive amount of tourists Florence and Venice do, it's still a very popular place to explore in northern Italy. Drop off your bags at a Bologna suitcase storage and get to know the town for yourself.
8 best ways to experience Bologna
Bologna oozes charm. And there’s plenty to do in this iconic Italian city. But if you want a deeper experience of everything Bologna has to offer, you may want to hire a professional tour guide to show you the hidden sides of the city. The following companies can help you experience Bologna in a way few tourists get to. Drop off your bags at a Bounce luggage storage in Bologna and get ready to see the hidden heart of the city.
Best art tour — Una Guida per Bologna
Bologna is a city packed with art, and if you want to explore more of its cultural treasures, this company can help. Founded by an art historian, Una Guide per Bologna offers guided tours of the city that focus on history and art. The tours change according to the exhibits that are in town when you visit, but you’ll learn more about art than you ever would from visiting the museums alone. Contact them at firstname.lastname@example.org or 393402207699.
Best food and wine tour — Bologna Tour
Explore the city of Bologna by night on a food and wine tour with Bologna Tour. This trip is perfect for foodies and anyone who wants to spend an evening enjoying the lit-up buildings of the city along with some of its best food. A knowledgeable guide will take you to the top spots in Bologna to enjoy a meal and help you pick wine pairings to go with your food. There are few better ways to spend the night in Bologna. Contact Bologna Tour at email@example.com or 39 3920060314.
Best food tour — Bologna Gourmet
Every town in Italy has its own unique culinary traditions, and Bologna is no different. Famed for its wines, its cheeses, and its cured meats, Bologna has plenty to offer any foodie. A gastronomic tour of the city will help you learn more about the ancient traditions that still dominate food production here and, best of all, let you sample some of the local products. You can take an entire tour dedicated to one single aspect of Bologna’s cuisine, such as a gelato tour, a wine tour, a ham tour, or a truffle tour. Whichever you pick, you’ll come away with a deeper understanding of the history of the region and of the incredible flavors it offers. Contact them to book a tour at firstname.lastname@example.org or 393355336613.
Best bike tour — BikeinBO
Cyclists will have a blast on a bike tour of Bologna. This ancient city is perfect to explore on two wheels, and a knowledgeable guide will help you see all the best sites. BikeinBO offers specialized tours to see the city’s impressive street art or to get out of town and enjoy the incredible countryside. The bike tour is the perfect way to get some exercise while you experience what the city and its surroundings have to offer. And if you really want a treat, take the ice cream bike tour to sample all the best gelato Bologna has to offer. Contact them at email@example.com or 393470017996.
Best cooking class — CIBO Culinary Institute
With such an incredible range of local produce, Bologna is an excellent place to learn how to cook authentic Italian food. At CIBO Culinary Institute, expert chefs will share with you the traditional techniques of Italian cooking. You’ll try your hand at classic dishes from the Emilia Romagna region and hopefully make yourself a delicious meal. Plus, the skills and techniques you learn on your vacation will stay with you for life. Contact CIBO at firstname.lastname@example.org or 393703698230.
Best car tour — Italian Factory Motor Tour
Gearheads won’t want to miss this one. Just outside Bologna is the Motor Valley, the birthplace of some of the world’s most iconic car brands. Ferrari, Lamborghini, Ducati, and Maserati all started here. Visit the factories where these beautiful machines are made and take a bus tour of their iconic test tracks. You also learn about the history of why so many luxury brands made this area their home. Contact them at email@example.com or 39 335776184.
Best regional tours — Elle Tours
There is so much to do in Bologna that it’s easy to forget that the city is part of a wider region that is also worth exploring. Elle Tours can help you see some of the best of Emilia Romagna, with tours of Ravenna and Ferrara as well as Bologna itself. Seeing these neighboring cities will give you a deeper understanding of the history and culture of Bologna. Also, the countryside in between is particularly beautiful and well worth visiting on your trip. You can book a tour at firstname.lastname@example.org or 39 3474200143.
Best cheese tour — Emilia Romagna Tours
Parmigiano Reggiano, the King of Italian Cheeses, is produced only in this region of the country. Locals are rightfully proud of their famous product, and you can learn all about it on a Parmigiano Dairy Experience. Or, you can combine this delicious cheese with an in-depth exploration of wine and vinegar on a Parmigiano, Lambrusco, and balsamic vinegar tour to really experience the flavors of the region. Reach out to the company at email@example.com or 39 0598375000.
A weekend in Bologna
While by no means the biggest town in Italy, Bologna's metropolitan population of over a million inhabitants means it's not small either. However, the historic center of the town houses most of the top attractions and is easily explored on foot. A weekend is enough to see many of the top attractions. Drop off your bags at a Bologna luggage storage locker to make things easier.
- Piazza Maggiore is the main town square of Bologna and is home to some of the city's most important historic buildings. It's also the perfect place to enjoy the atmosphere of the city. Grab a table at one of the many sidewalk cafes and watch the world go by in the beating heart of the city.
- See the ancient campus of the University of Bologna at the Archiginnasio. The sixteenth-century building is dripping with atmosphere. While you're there, don't miss the anatomical theater, a famous wood-paneled room full of carved statues of pioneering doctors.
- See some of Bologna's famous towers in the Piazza di Porta Ravegnana. These ancient towers are icons of the city and dominate the skyline. Both can be climbed for impressive views over Bologna.
As an ancient city, Bologna is a great place to explore on foot. Its charming historic center is best seen this way, since many of the streets and piazzas long predate the car. Leave your heavy bags behind at a Bologna bag storage, and you'll be able to freely explore this fascinating city for yourself.
Off the beaten path in Bologna
Like all of Italy's major cities, Bologna receives its share of tourists. But if you're looking to get away from the crowds, the city also has some lesser-known attractions that are worth exploring. Check out some of these hidden gems.
- Tucked away inside the church of Santa Maria Della Vita is one of Bologna's most impressive works of art. The Oratory of Battuti was created in 1604 and is absolutely packed with beautiful statues. Even the walls and ceiling are richly decorated.
- Delve into a mysterious air crash at the Museum for the Memory of Ustica. In 1980, a plane heading to Palermo in Sicily crashed, and to this day, no one quite knows why. At this unusual museum, you can see the wreckage of the plane and hear the story of this unsolved mystery.
- Get above it all at the Prendiparte Tower. Dating back to the twelfth century, this 200-foot tall tower is open to the public and offers a splendid view of the city. Climbing the stone steps will certainly burn off some calories, so you can enjoy a guilt-free dinner afterward.
What to do alone in Bologna
Sometimes, traveling solo is the best way to experience a city. Traveling by yourself enables you to really dive into the culture and atmosphere of the town. Drop off your bags at a Bologna luggage storage service and enjoy a solo trip in this enchanting location.
- Diving into Bologna's rich past at the Archaeological Museum. The city has been occupied since prehistoric times, and this expansive collection will take you through every period of the city's history. You could easily spend hours in this fascinating attraction.
- Rub shoulders with locals in the lively Piazzola Market. This market has been held in the city for centuries and is still a popular place for locals to shop. With hundreds of different stalls, you can find just about anything here, from excellent food to unique souvenirs. And the lively atmosphere is part of the charm.
- Italy isn't short of art, and Bologna is no exception. The National Gallery in the city focuses on works with some connection to the Emilia region and provides a crash course in art from the thirteenth century up to the eighteenth. Famous artists are represented too, with important works by Raphael and Titian the highlights of the collection.
The best souvenirs in Bologna
This Italian city is synonymous with cured meat. Some authentic Bologna, or baloney, makes a great reminder of your trip. You could also delve into the supernatural with a deck of Bolognese tarot cards. These cards have been part of the city's culture since the fifteenth century. La Carolina has been selling the cards since 1694 and is the perfect place to pick up this unique item. The city of Bologna also has its own signature fragrance, created in 1827. Pick up a bottle of this citrus-based concoction at Autentica di Felsina.