Bologna trip planner

A travel guide to the Italian culinary capital and university city of Bologna

Bologna is home to the oldest university in Europe.

This venerable institution accounts for much of Bologna's great sights, from frescoed and sculpture-adorned churches to rich museum collections—not to mention a lively pub scene and more bookstores per block than just about anywhere else in Italy.

The university also accounts for the liveliness and active cultural scene of this student-filled small city of stone streets, brick buildings and crazily tilting medieval towers rising above arcaded sidewalks bursting with shops

Bologna is also the hub of what is arguably Italy's culinary capital. The surrounding Emilia-Romagna region is home to prosciutto and parmigiano (both from Parma), tortellini, the classic ragù meat sauce (known in Italian as pasta alla bolognese) and, of course mortadella, that pinkish, finely graded lunch meat the world has come to know as bologna (though—outside of Oscar Meyer commercials—it's often misspelled "baloney").

Why Bologna?

Seeing sculptures by a teenaged Michelangelo on the revered tomb of San Domenico.

Stuffing yourself on some of Italy's best food.

Climbing Torre degli Asinelli for panoramic views of the city

Hanging out with college kids in the wine bars, pubs, and osterie lining Via del Pratello and Via Zamboni.

A hrief history of Bologna

Starting in the 13th century, scholars began descending upon Bologna in droves, and the growing city took shape to accommodate them.

The burgeoning community built palazzi and churches, and artists came from throughout Italy to decorate them.

These treasures remain amid a handsome cityscape of ocher-colored buildings, red-tile rooftops, and the occasional tower constructed by powerful medieval families to display their wealth and power.

Bologna's famous 40km (25 miles) of loggie have turned this into a city of covered sidewalks, allowing students and locals alike to stroll and discourse even in bad weather.

The students remain a vibrant presence in Bologna, giving the city a youthful exuberance.

The culinary side of Bologna

Bologna food tours - From privately-guided market walks and visits to chocolatiers and pasta makers to wine tasting and excursions to countryside vinyards... » more

Bologna the Fat - A walk through the culinary side of Bologna—street markets, specialty food shops, pasta boutiques—plus cooking classes and a killer recipe for traditional tagliatelle al bolognese... » more

Bologna cooking schools - Cooking schools and cooking classes in Bologna and a recipe for homemade tagliatelle alla bolognese... » more

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How long does Bologna take?

Planning your day: Bologna is worth at least a day on your schedule—and with such good eating, probably an overngiht so you can sample as many restaurants as possible.

Bologna tours
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