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Holidays in Bologna will take you to one of Italy’s most elegant and exciting cities. Among the weaving porticoes and medieval towers, you will experience spirited markets and bustling arcades, all in a city that continues to feel vibrant and welcoming long into the evening. Bologna holds international acclaim for its food, architecture and automobile design, while retaining an authentic and intimate city centre where each street exhibits the city’s historical and social roots. Whether you are looking to taste the local tortelli al tartufo nero underneath the shadows of the famous Due Torri or for relaxing evenings spent strolling through the Colli district to watch the sun set over the skyline, you will find much to enjoy in this remarkable city.

Bologna’s food culture could entertain and fascinate even the most experienced gastronome. It is commonplace to witness the making of fresh pasta and the tasting of locally made burrata when walking around the central piazza. Alongside these delights, Bologna hosts over fifty museums displaying work from renowned historical figures such as Michelangelo, Raphael and Mozart, as well as prestigious modern institutions such as the MAMbo, Museo D’arte Moderna Di Bologna, which maintain a thriving contemporary art scene.

Experience Bologna like no other

Citalia will support your trip to Bologna with specialist understanding and knowledge of the city and surroundings, allowing for a truly special visit.

Upon arrival in central Bologna, you’ll find yourself immersed in roofs of aged terracotta, impressive towers, and the marvellous, embellished palazzo. A short walk in any direction will take you to another distinct district and you may find yourself in awe underneath the arches of the University of Bologna or wandering through the colourful maze of the 16th Century Jewish ghetto. It’s remarkably easy to stumble upon a hidden bar or tucked away restaurant where you can eat and drink with the locals.

Those seeking to immerse themselves in Italian culture will be able to enjoy the Cineteca di Bologna, which, as well as operating a wonderful cinema, contains an immense archive of cinema footage and writing. There is also the International Museum and Library of Music which not only showcases the city’s important musical heritage but is currently situated inside the Palazzo Sanguinetti, a building full of decadent design which has been preserved for hundreds of years.

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Things to do in Bologna

Visiting the Emilia-Romagna region places you among the finest food producers in Italy. A short train ride from Bologna will take you to other, significant cities of food culture. In Parma, further north, you’ll be able to taste distinguished Parmesan cheese and prosciutto. The city is also home to the highly desirable culatello, a cured meat known for its artisan production. In Ferrara taste delicious panpepato, a spiced, nutty cake with hundreds of years history. Alternatively, visit Modena for the city’s famous balsamic vinegar, the traditional tigella bread, or the world’s most revered restaurant, Osteria Francescana. The ease of train travel in the region opens up each beautiful city for exploration on your holiday.

Automobile enthusiasts will be enthralled to discover, alongside the celebrated Ferrari museum, there are also Maserati, Ducati and Lamborghini museums respectively, and each within a short bus or train ride from the centre of Bologna. The exhibitions offer a wide collection of Italian vehicle design and great insight into the region’s rich motorsport identity. Many of the venues, such as the recently renovated Ducati museum, also allow entrance into their factory for first-hand experience of their production. The Maserati Museum in Modena allows you to test drive their most iconic race cars on a private track, in the Italian countryside, near Parma. For an added sense of freedom, travel across these surrounding regions with a self-drive tour, allowing you to adventure through the countryside, witnessing each stunning vista at your own pace.

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Flight Information

Direct flights to Bologna Guglielmo Marconi Airport (BLQ) are available from London Gatwick, London Heathrow, London Stansted, Edinburgh, Bristol and Manchester and take approximately 2 hours 15 minutes.

When To Go

Bologna is a year-round destination but the best months to go are during spring and autumn when the weather is pleasant enough for al fresco dining and the summer crowds haven't yet arrived. The weeks leading up to Christmas can also be particularly festive with several Christmas markets offering traditional gifts and a spectacular street market on New Year's Eve in the 13th-century Piazza Maggiore.

 

Bologna Specialities

Both Bologna and Modena claim the origin of tortellini within the Emilia-Romagna region and it’s this friendly rivalry that keeps Bologna full of the most exciting and flavourful pasta creations. There is an endless variety of tortellini fillings in both the restaurants and markets but the best to try are those containing regional delicacies, such as mortadella and parmigiano reggiano. You will also encounter different serving styles, such as the larger tortelloni and those served in broth, tortellini en brodo.

In many of the city’s bakeries you will find torta degli addobbi, or torta di riso, which is a traditional, Bolognese, sweet rice cake. The cake dates back to 17th Century Christian celebrations when parishioners would decorate their windows and offer slices of the cake to guests. Made with arborio rice, lemon, and almonds and cooked until spongy, the cake is then typically coated in Amaretto, or a similarly flavoursome liqueur, to infuse its flavour and leave the cake with its iconic stickiness.

In the centre of the city there is Aroma, a café that offers award winning coffee and a variety of coffee influenced desserts and cocktails. Famous for their caffe zabaione, which is a ristretto topped with custard and sweet wine, the café also offers many Italian classics, such as a fior di latte, and an array of high quality speciality coffee. Here you will be able to taste some of the country’s finest coffee as well as indulge in delicious and extravagant desserts.

History

Without a doubt, Bologna is one of Italy's most beautiful medieval cities. Founded in the 6th century BC and originally named Felsina, the city was the capital of the Etruscan Po valley territories for two centuries. Falling into the hands of the Romans a couple of hundred years later, then occupied by Visigoths, Huns, Goths and Lombards, Bologna's rich history has remained very prominent throughout. Walk the Giardini Margherita park and view two reconstructed huts of an Etruscan settlement, enjoy an aperitivo in one of the many old bars and, of course, climb the steps of the Garisenda tower (the more tipsy of the two) and enjoy stunning views of the city.

Experience more of Italy by adding an excursion to your holiday

To pre-book one of our specially selected excursions, please call our Italy Experts on 01293 762410*.

Excursions in and around Bologna

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