Discover Bologna
The city of education, medieval cathedrals, and magnificent palaces
A beautiful city of Bologna lies in the north of Italy at the foot of the Apennine Mountains

Districts of Bologna

Bologna is a small city, in every part of which you can find amazing places. The historical center is considered to be the largest and best-preserved in Europe. If you want to find housing at affordable prices, choose the district of the University and the Park of Montagnola.

Map Bologna


According to the 2016 census, almost 400,000 people live in the city. Most citizens are Italians. The city is also home to people who come from different EU and Asian countries.

History in brief

In 510 BCE, at the site of present-day Bologna, there was an Etruscan settlement called Felsina. In the 4th century BCE, the site was occupied by the Gaulish Boii. That is when the name Bologna appeared that derives its name from the name of the tribe.

Two hundred years later, the city became a Roman colony, which made it a wealthy and prosperous one. Bologna grew. The roads were built, the sewer system was designed for the public buildings in the city center, canals and an aqueduct were under construction. After the fall of the Roman Empire, the city was repeatedly sacked and captured by different kingdoms.

In the 8th century, Bologna was granted the status of a free city, and in the 11th century, it was granted the status of a free commune. It was here that the first university in Europe was established that was originally known as the Studium.

The 13th century brought the abolition of serfdom. Bologna was developing and expanding rapidly. Due to the construction of canals, the network of which quickly became one of the most developed in Europe, the trade exchange activities grew. Textile enterprises were established, as well as trading companies. Rich houses were built.

The beginning of the 16th century marked the start of the Papal rule, which would last for almost 300 years.

The University of Bologna became the most famous university in Europe. Renowned professors of natural sciences, medicine, law, and philosophy worked there. The Archiginnasio was under construction.

The first half of the 17th century marked a period of decline. Bologna was hit with natural disasters and several epidemics.

The renascence of the city occurred in the second half of the 17th century during the Enlightenment. The number of university departments grew. The Institute of Science was established. Arts, science, and culture prospered in the city.

At the end of the 18th century, the French captured Bologna, and 19 years later, the Papacy regained control over the city.

In the second half of the 19th century, the city joined the Kingdom of Italy.

Bologna suffered extensive damage during World War II. Many buildings and roads were destroyed; more than 3,000 residents were killed.

Despite the disasters experienced, Bologna has managed to preserve the charm of the ancient but forever young student city.

Trip budget

Before the trip, you should calculate the approximate budget that you will require for the travel:

Best time to plan a trip to Bologna

Bologna has a humid subtropical climate. Winters are mild with the average temperature of +2ºС — +4ºС. Sometimes it snows, although the snow immediately melts. Summers are quite hot, with an average temperature of +23 ºС — +27 ºС. It is rainy in April as well as in the period from September to November. You can enjoy a vacation in Bologna all year round. But for those who do not like wet weather, it might be better not to plan a trip for the autumn period.

Do you follow new highlights of modern art and culture? Then come to Bologna in mid-September to attend RoBOt, the International Festival of Contemporary Art. It offers four-days art workshops, DJ sets, and electronic music concerts that take place on the city streets.

Those who have a sweet tooth might not want to miss the opportunity to enjoy delicious chocolate at Cioccoshow di Bologna. This is the time of street fairs where you can try different types of chocolate. The gastronomic feast is accompanied by numerous live music concerts.

Useful notes

Things a tourist should do in Bologna

Even simply walking down the streets of the city, it is impossible to resist its charm. But if you want to experience the amazing atmosphere of the ancient cultural center of the country, you should visit the most popular tourist locations.

  • Go for a stroll through the famous squares of Bologna. The central part of the city consists of two beautiful squares of Piazza Maggiore and Piazza Nettuno. Along the perimeter of the first of them, Piazza Maggiore, you will find the Basilica of San Petronio and other magnificent civic buildings such as Palazzo Comunale and Palazzo del Podestà. Piazza Nettuno, or the Square of Neptune, is known for its amazing fountain with the statue of the God of the Sea. It is believed the trident of Neptune's statue was used as a prototype for the Maserati company logo.
  • Give yourself a chance to admire the view of the city from the viewing platform of the leaning tower. There are two towers at the intersection of the roads that lead to the five gates of the old ring wall. One of them, the Asinelli Tower, is 97 m tall and is the tallest leaning tower in the world. The other one, the Garisenda Tower, is 48 m tall. It was mentioned by Dante Alighieri in his Divine Comedy. The towers were erected in the early 12th century at the order of the city's powerful families and derived their names from those. If you want to get to the viewing platform of the Asinelli Tower, keep in mind that you will have to climb almost 500 steps.
  • You will admire the beauty of the Basilica of San Petronio. The construction of the church began in the 14th century and lasted for almost 300 years. As a result, the architecture combined both Romanesque and Gothic styles. This was the last cathedral in the country built in the shape of a Latin cross. The luxurious Baroque interior of the cathedral is particularly impressive. If you attend the service, you will have the chance to enjoy the sound of the unique organs of the 17th century.
  • Go along the world's longest roofed gallery that will lead you to the incredibly beautiful Sanctuary of the Madonna of San Luca. Legend has it that the Sanctuary was built on a 300-meter-high hill to preserve the icon of the Mother of God, painted by the apostle Luke. The cylindrical basilica is decorated with graceful arches and columns, gilding, and stucco patterns. The main relic of the church is the miraculous icon of the Virgin Mary that attracts thousands of pilgrims from all over the world.
  • Admire the magnificence of the famous Palazzo Re Enzo. This beautiful palace was built in the 13th century. For 23 years, it remained a prison for Enzio, the ruler of Sardinia. According to the legend, the captive had his own cook and court staff and was allowed to see women. However, Enzio was kept in a cage hanging from the ceiling during the night. The Palazzo was repeatedly restructured and reconstructed. As a result, its architecture combines both Gothic and Renaissance elements.
  • Visit one of the oldest universities in the world. The first buildings of the university were built in the 11th century. It is an interesting fact that from the very beginning students were accepted to the university based on the exam results. Heirs of noble families, children of artisans, and women were among those who studied at the university. Admire the luxurious interiors of the reading, lecture, and library rooms. Peek into the courtyard where you can find commemorative inscriptions of students and teachers who later became famous scientists.
  • Immerse yourself in the ancient atmosphere of the amazing Museum of the Middle Ages. The expositions are held in Palazzo Gizilardi built in the 15th century on the site of an ancient palace. Learn more about the household items, jewelry, and artworks of Bologna in the Middle Ages. Admire the unique exhibits made of Carrara marble, elephant ivory, glass, and bronze. Do not miss the opportunity to see a glorious 700-year-old fountain with the sculptures of four Atlantes. Try not to overlook the priceless frescoes of Jacopo della Quercia.
  • Check out exhibitions at the International Museum and Library of Music. The museum is located in Palazzo Sanguinetti. There you can find beautiful frescoes made in the Neoclassical and Empire styles. The collection is based on the collection of Giovanni Martini, the teacher of Bach and Mozart. The music books are particularly delightful, as well as the collection of more than 80 antique instruments that includes violins, flutes, a gironda, a guitar-shaped theorbo, and others.
  • Spend a day in the Botanical Garden, the favorite recreational spot of locals and visitors alike. This magnificent park with an area of 3 hectares is one of the oldest in Europe. It shows unique collections of plants, with more than 5,000 species of plants from around the planet. Make sure not to walk on by the orchid, fern, and succulent greenhouses where rare specimens grow.
  • Experience the charm of the colorful Italian city at Mercato di Mezzo, the Middle Market. Take a walk along the narrow streets littered with small open shops and admire picturesque counters. At the market, you can purchase fresh vegetables and fruits, spices and seasonings as well as local delicacies.
  • Try the local cuisine. Bologna is where many national Italian dishes originated. Order Tagliatelle (egg pasta served with Bolognese sauce), Cotoletta alla Bolognese (veal cutlets topped with a slice of prosciutto), Lasagne Verdi alla Bolognese (spinach lasagne). Those who have a sweet tooth will enjoy Torta di Riso (rice cake with almonds and lemon), and Gelato (a popular frozen dessert with different flavors).

Hotels in Bologna

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