Bologna City Guide: Italy's best kept secret
"Wherever you are, be all there" - Jim Elliot
I don’t know about you, but when I picture Italy I think of fantastic fashion, great food, and spectacular (and cheap) coffee, not to mention architectural art. Unfortunately, that seems to be a popular picture, with tourists flocking to the big cities like Milan, Rome, and Venice most weeks of the year. Thankfully, these things can be seen all over Italy and Bologna may be one of the best. Featuring the world’s oldest continually-running university as well as over 40km of porticos, Bologna is the perfect city-break that encompasses all of Italy’s gifts.
Bologna coffee scene
Bologna, in true Italian style, has great coffee at a price that will make you want to buy a year’s supply. Add to that the pastries and you may as well kick your diet out the door for the duration of your trip. All of that means that, when it comes to café’s, you’re not short of choices. From the small Café Rubik for a vintage feel that uses old French cassette tapes as the basis of its décor, to Café Terzi’s vast array of different flavours and Le Petit Café who may make one of the best cappuccinos in the city, there is something to everyone. Honourable mentions also go to Pappare and Les Pupitres for their food menu’s too.
Looking for something to take home? Pay la Bottega del Caffe a visit for a great selections of beans to take home!
Enjoy a night out, Italian style
With a thriving university, it is no surprise that Bologna enjoys a great nightlife. If you fancy giving a night out a go, head over to la stanza, a place that looks less like your ordinary bar and more like an intimate shut-in inside a church and grab a drink from their extensive cocktail menu before going over to the vast array of clubs in the city centre. Just whatever you do, don’t head home too early. Stay up after 2.30am and make sure to grab yourself a snack from the city’s secret bakery that bakes an assortment of baked goods for the city’s hotels and café’s all through the night. Just walk down Via Borgonuovo and follow your nose… or the small crowd of students huddled outside!
Bologna from above
We all love a great aerial shot, and Bologna, with its colourful buildings and medieval rooftops is no different. Thankfully, there are two perfect spots for you to see it for yourself. The Assinelli Towers in the heart of the museum district dominate the city skyline and, apart from leaning at more of an angle of the tower of Pisa, offers great views of the city from above – just be ready for stairs on stairs on stairs! If it’s the towers that you want to see – or if you need something stair-free, however, head to the back of the Piazza Maggiore, where there is a lift to the top of the Cathedral! Time your visits with sunset for the perfect view.
Secret windows and doors
In much the same way Venice is now, Bologna was once a city full of little canals. Unfortunately, all bar one of those canals have since been closed or covered over during the city’s development. Thankfully, there remains one window that gives you a glimpse into the old canal aesthetic. Find the finistrella di via paella and you’ll find a window into the city’s hidden canals.
If that's not enough secrets for you, find the archways in front of the Piazza Maggiore for a cool whispering walls type effect!
Bologna’s surroundings: Santuario di San Luca
Following the 666 porticos 5km from the Porta Saragozza takes you up just out of the city limits to the Santuario di San Luca. Not only does the church over a spectacular view of the Bolognese countryside from its rooftop viewing platform, but the inside is a work of art. Be sure to take the steps to the side of the altar for some of the best sights of the sanctuary.
Oh, and if you’re tired after the uphill walk, there is a café/ restaurant just around the back that should perk you straight back up!
Where are y’all’s favourite underappreciated cities? Be sure to message us!