The great palaces and noble residences have a reputation for being among the most popular tourist attractions ever. Symbols of power, magnificence and glory, even in Bologna they enrich the historical centre with monumental facades, valuable decorations and porticoes of enchanting beauty.
But which ones are open to the public for visits? Here is an itinerary to find out!
Our tour begins in the central Piazza Maggiore with Palazzo d'Accursio. The complex, now vaguely resembling a fortress with all its battlements, is actually the result of many structural changes over the centuries. It was the home of the jurist Accursio ( after whom it is named), then home to the Cardinal Legate, until it finally served as the palace of city power. Today it houses the Municipality of Bologna, with some of its rooms open to visitors when not engaged in public ceremonies. The building also includes the Clock Tower, which can be visited with a combined ticket together with the Municipal Art Collections. The Sala Borsa (former Stock Exchange Room) is part of the same complex, yet with its own entrance on Piazza Nettuno, now used as the home of Bologna's most important library, where you can also admire the archaeological excavations of the remains of the Roman Bononia.
We now proceed over to the Archiginnasio, the oldest location of the University of Bologna. Within its interior you can visit the Anatomical Theatre, the symbol of the ancient Alma Mater, where medical lessons were held in the past, together with the magnificently decorated Stabat Mater Hall.
An excellent opportunity to visit historical palaces is whenever they host temporary exhibitions. One example above all? Palazzo Fava. The palace is often the venue for high-level international art exhibitions, but even when not displaying other artists' paintings, it is worth a visit because of the beautiful frescoes by the Carraci brothers. Other fine buildings used for exhibitions are Palazzo Albergati with its 17th-century frescoes, Palazzo Pallavicini where Mozart performed, Palazzo Belloni with its majestic staircase, and the Renaissance Casa Saraceni. Check their websites to find out more and keep up to date with current exhibitions.
Finally, to conclude your walk among the city's most beautiful buildings on a high note, we would like to point out two of the many University sites that are well worth a look: Palazzo Hercolani (Strada Maggiore 45, home of the Political Science faculty) and Palazzo Malvezzi Campeggi (Via Zamboni 22, Law faculty). Why not pretend to be a student here and take a look inside? We promise you won't be disappointed!