Happiness is contagious here, so you can’t help but feel overcome with admiration when you see the famous towers, kilometres of porticoes and the rolling hills that surround this city which became famous thanks to the Vespa 50 Special.
Obviously, you’re in Bologna, a city where you'll always find someone to eat, drink and have a chat with.
It’s clear that just one day isn’t enough for you to discover all the marvels that the city holds, but you can get a taste of it that will make you want to come back for more.
The perfect place to start your day is Piazza di Porta Ravegnana.
Why? Because the two Medieval towers that are symbols of the city, Torre degli Asinelli and Torre Garisenda, are here. The latter is closed to visitors, whilst the other taller one definitely deserves a visit...if you aren’t afraid of heights!
Next, stroll along Via Rizzoli to reach Piazza Maggiore, which has been the hub of daily life since the thirteenth century. The Basilica of San Petronio that dominates the square is one of Bologna’s most recognisable monuments due to its unfinished façade.
Beside Piazza Maggiore, tucked between the administrative buildings Palazzo del Podestà and Palazzo Comunale, is another symbol of Bologna: Fontana del Nettuno [Neptune’s Fountain].
Just a stone’s throw from here is another one of Bologna’s treasures, the unique cross-shaped Vault of the Palazzo del Podestà with extraordinary acoustics. If two people face opposite corners of the four pillars forming the vault, they can hear one another whispering. Give it a try!
After you have visited the main attractions in the city centre, it’s undoubtedly time for lunch! This is the perfect time for you to explore the Quadrilatero [the tasty quarter].
This neighbourhood is not dedicated to fashion, but rather to the pleasures of the palate, with its historic food and wine delis and quaint restaurants serving Lambrusco wine, tigelle bread and fresh pasta with piping hot ragù sauce.
In the Quadrilatero you’ll also find the Mercato di Mezzo [Market in the Middle], an unparalleled place for friends and Bolognese traditional food.
Its history reaches back to the Middle Ages. After the Unification of Italy, it was transformed into the city’s first covered market. Today it’s a great example of how tradition has been modernised.
In the afternoon, we’d like to propose an alternative to the iconic “pilgrimage” to the Sanctuary of San Luca.
Of course, strolling under the longest stretch of porticoes in the world to reach the city’s lookouts on the summit of the hill is undoubtedly a lovely experience, but there’s another less famous, less crowded and truly memorable place.
It’s the Church of San Michele in Bosco, whose terrace offers you incredible panoramic views of Bologna.
There’s another reason for you to journey up to San Michele in Bosco. There's a small door in its presbytery that opens onto the long corridor of the adjacent old convent, nicknamed Cannocchiale [spyglass].
Thanks to an optical illusion, as you walk towards the end of the corridor, you see more and more of Asinelli Tower, until it seems as if you could touch the top of it.
Heading back down into the city, you should go round to Bologna’s History Museum in Palazzo Pepoli, where you’ll travel through time, observing the 2,500 years of changes that have transformed Bologna from the Etruscan Felsina to the city you see today.
Your day is winding down, but it would be incomplete without partaking in a typical Italian ritual that Bologna has turned into an institution: happy hour.
From Piazza Santo Stefano to Mercato delle Erbe [Herb Market], from the Pratello quarter to the university quarter in the shadow of the towers, from Giardini Margherita park to the Jewish Ghetto, there are countless bars and pubs in which to bring perhaps your first exploration of Bologna to a close.
Each one will help you discover the true meaning of the saying “fare balotta”, that is, good times in good company!