Hidden Italy: Bologna

At Citalia we have over 90 years’ experience and over this time we have discovered a number of Italian hidden gems that are off the beaten track. We have travelled the country top to bottom, bottom to top, and everything in between to bring you our extensive knowledge and secret treasures.  
Without further ado, introducing the latest in our Hidden Italy series, Citalia’s Choice for March…BOLOGNA

The food capital of Italy, Bologna invites you to enjoy everything it has to offer. From bustling arcades to medieval towers, hearty dishes to elegant architecture, there is something special around every corner. Here are some of our favourite things about Bologna for you to enjoy on your next Italian adventure. 


The University of Bologna, founded in 1088, is one of the oldest and most prestigious universities in the world. It is renowned for its excellence in teaching and research, with a long history of producing influential scholars and thinkers. The university offers a wide range of courses in various subjects, including arts, law, medicine, science, and engineering, among others. Its academic programmes attract students from all over the world, creating a diverse and vibrant academic community. The university is also home to many historic buildings, including the Archiginnasio, which was the first seat of the university, and the Teatro Anatomico, a stunning anatomical theatre used for medical demonstrations. The University of Bologna is a key institution in the city's cultural and intellectual life, and a major contributor to the global academic community.
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Eat Bologna’s Best Dishes

Bologna is known for its cuisine and so a trip there wouldn’t be complete without sampling some of the city’s finest dishes. As the gastronomic capital of Italy, Bologna is a real treat for the tastebuds. The Emilia-Romagna region is home to delights such as parmesan cheese, Parma ham and balsamic vinegar. The city is famous for its delicious handmade pasta, such as tagliatelle and tortellini, which are usually served with rich meat-based sauces like ragù or Bolognese sauce. Other notable dishes include the local mortadella sausage, as well as the popular cold cuts, salumi and prosciutto. Vegetables, cheese, and wine are also staples of Bologna's cuisine, with many local varieties to choose from. Traditional dishes are often served in rustic trattorias or osterias, where the warm and welcoming atmosphere complements the food perfectly. The city's famous food markets, such as the Mercato di Mezzo and Mercato delle Erbe, offer an abundance of fresh produce, meats, and cheeses, and are a must-visit for any foodie.  
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Parma and Modena

Bologna is a fantastic base for exploring the surrounding region, with a number of popular day trips within easy reach. Parma, located about an hour away by train, is renowned for its food, particularly its world-famous prosciutto di Parma and Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese. The city is also home to many stunning historic buildings, including the Romanesque cathedral and the Palazzo della Pilotta, which houses a number of impressive art collections. 

Modena, just a short train ride from Bologna, is another must-visit destination for food lovers, as it is the birthplace of balsamic vinegar and home to some of the world's best balsamic producers. Modena is also famous for its striking Romanesque cathedral, the Torre Ghirlandina, and the stunning Ducal Palace. 
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Bologna is famous for its impressive network of porticoes - covered walkways that line the streets and provide shelter from the weather. An integral part of the city, these architectural marvels have been part of the urban landscape since the Middle Ages and are a testament to Bologna's rich history and culture. Walking through the porticoes is an immersive experience, where you can observe the city's vibrant street life, browse the numerous shops and cafes, and admire the unique architectural features of each portico. Some of the porticoes even feature stunning frescoes and intricate sculptures. The most famous of these is the Portico di San Luca, which stretches over three and a half kilometres and leads up to the hilltop Sanctuary of the Madonna di San Luca. Visiting the porticoes in Bologna is a must for anyone interested in architecture, history, or just looking to soak up the city's lively atmosphere.
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Asinelli Tower

The Asinelli Tower is an iconic landmark in the city of Bologna. Standing at over 97 metres tall, it is the tallest leaning tower in Italy and one of the most recognisable symbols of the city. Built in the 12th century by the Asinelli family, the tower was originally used for defensive purposes, but later served as a symbol of power and wealth for the influential families of Bologna. Today, the tower is open to the public, offering stunning views of the city from the top. Climbing the 498 steps to the top is challenging but the views of the historic city centre and the surrounding hillside are completely worth it.  
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Where can I stay in Bologna?

We have some excellent hotels available for your next adventure to Bologna. 

Grand Hotel Majestic, Bologna
  • Only a short walk from Piazza Maggiore and the Two Towers
  • Situated in the heart of Medieval Bologna
PHI Hotel Bologna - Al Cappello Rosso, Bologna
  • Only 50 metres away from the majestic Piazza Maggiore
  • Complimentary bicycle hire
Metropolitan, Bologna
  • Located in the historic centre of Bologna, five minutes' walk from Piazza Maggiore
  • Enjoy the chic, modern interiors and beautiful historic exteriors of the hotel
  • Relax with a cocktail as you take in the churches, winding streets and squares below
  • Perfect for couples wanting to explore the rich culture and history of Bologna

Discover the real Italy with Citalia

Ready for Bologna? Well, here is our commitment to you. With 95 years’ experience we pride ourselves on ensuring you Travel with Confidence. Our Italy Experts are on hand to help you plan your next enchanting escape. Discover the real Italy with Citalia, your next adventure is just a call away…  

Enjoyed uncovering Bologna? Discover more of the real Italy in our latest blog series. Every month we’re revealing a new off the beaten track destination, explore the regions our experts have already shared, with Hidden Italy: Verona and Hidden Italy: Naples

Suggested Destinations & Trips

Call us today to speak to one of our Italy Experts for further travel advice, hotel recommendations or to begin planning your next Italian holiday.
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