Home of mortadella and Maserati, Emilia-Romagna’s capital city is also famous for its porticos (covered walkways), all 45 kilometres of them, some dating back to the 11th century, which makes it a very comfortable city to walk around in any weather. It has one of the most extensive food markets I’ve ever seen, the Quadrilatero, the perfect place to shop for foodie souvenirs and lunch on a barstool outside ancient delis. Here are five things not to miss on your next visit to the city routinely ranked among Italy’s top 10 most liveable cities.
Stay Hotel Commercianti
Start with a base right beside the imposing Basilica di San Petronio in a building that dates back to the 11th century. Request a room on the top floor with a balcony from which you can almost reach out and touch the red bricks of the church’s looming side wall.
Eat Caminetto d’Oro
If I only have one night in Bologna, this small, simple restaurant is where I want to eat. Fresh local Ingredients shine beyond the traditional dishes, while still respecting the heritage of Bolognaise cuisine. Cold cuts, salads, fresh pasta, grills and delicious desserts, plus an impressive wine list.
Founded in 1088, Bologna University is the world’s oldest continuously operating university, and the organisation which coined the name. This wonderfully ornate 16th century building, with its panels of students’ coats of arms and wooden anatomy theatre, was the uni’s first unified seat (classes previously being scattered around the city).
Shop Corte Isolani
While the miles of covered walkways make Bologna a great place to shop in general, this little arcade between Strada Maggiore and Piazza San Stefano, created by the restoration of two 13th century noble houses and the courtyards and hallways that connected them, is a charming collection of art, antiques, bric-a-brac, fashion and eats.
Out of Town Enoteca Regionale Emilia-Romagna
It’s well worth the 45 minute drive to the medieval Sforza Fortress in Dozza to learn about the wines of Emilia-Romagna, beyond Lambrusco. Taste wines from little known grapes, such as pignoletto (which makes a wonderful full-flavoured sparkling), and buy souvenirs of local preserves.
Keen to dig deeper into Bologna’s wealth of history, art and culture? Grab a map from the tourist office opposite the Basilica on Piazza Magiore and take the self-guided walking tour around all the major sites.