When you think of Bologna, you immediately bring to mind its cultural vocation, closely linked to the city’s university and museums, as well as its incomparable food tradition and the related culinary delicacies famous worldwide. However, you may not be aware of an interesting hidden side: gently resting between the flatlands and the hills, Bologna also boasts a green soul, made of parks, viewpoints and open-air trails for you to discover.
This itinerary cannot but start from the queen of all city hikes: the ascent to the Sanctuary of San Luca.
Leaving from Porta Saragozza-the starting point of the 666 arcades leading to the hilltop, or straight from the Arco del Meloncello at the foot of the Colle della Guardia, you can climb the hill sheltered by the world’s most beautiful porticoes.
As you’re gradually walking up, you will enter another dimension, where the city traffic and the noise become a distant memory, replaced by breath-taking glimpses over the city in a crescendo of natural beauty. This path is regularly run by pilgrims, joggers and simple citizens who keep each other company while admiring a natural scenario regarded as an “outdoor gym” for mind and soul.
Once you reach the top, your efforts will be well awarded, but should you crave for more, there’s always the Sanctuary to be explored and its dome to be climbed for an even better view!
Another incomparably beautiful location on the Bolognese hills is the park of Villa Ghigi, resting on the lower southern hills past Porta San Mamolo. This 28-hectare large park is a stunning mosaic of environments that perfectly represent the distinguishing traits of the Bolognese hillsides.
Within these places, several historic sites are preserved (Hermitage of Ronzano, Convent of the Osservanza, Villa Aldini) in perfect communion with nature, surrounded by rows of old fruit trees, vineyards and groves. It’s a perfect spot for relaxing or for having a picnic in fine weather while admiring the marvellous glimpses and views over the city with its green landscape to be immortalized in your pictures.
Finally, you should not miss a stroll inside the city’s most famous park, Giardini Margherita. This outdoor living room, regularly frequented by students and workers, artists and jugglers from the beautifully variegated melting pot of the city, is the perfect location for walking along tree-lined broad avenues, enjoying an ice cream or having an aperitif at one of the many kiosks to end your day on a high note.