Bologna often gets overshadowed by northern Italy's other cities, but the town, with its famous University of Bologna - the oldest university in Europe dating back to 1066 - is the gastronomy capital of Italy; visitors will discover its wealth of arcaded streets and porticoes filled with historic buildings and monuments and some of the best food in Italy.
Bologna's medieval red-brick centre is known as La Rossa (the red) and holds the red-brick squares of Piazza del Nettuno and Piazza Maggiore, around which sits the Gothic Basilica de San Petronio and the bronze sculpted Fontana del Nettuno.
A short walk from the central piazzas are the imposing 12th century towers of Due Torri and the Piazza di San Domenico. The impressive Basilica de San Domenico can be found on this square, and inside this ornate building are the remains of San Domenico, founder of the Domincan faith, housed in an elaborate sarcophagus.
You can stay in the magnificent Grand Hotel Baglioni, an 18th century former palazzo just a short walk from Piazza Maggiore.
Food and Music
Bologna was declared a UNESCO city of music in 2006 due to its investment in its thriving music scene. The city still holds numerous concerts by international bands throughout the year, from rock and alternative music to classical concerts and jazz performed in the historic city piazzas.
Bologna's other nickname is La Grassa (the fat one) gained from its tradition of fine food and for its host of restaurants, pizzerias and traditional trattorias, serving the regions most mouth-watering delicacies. Local specialities include hand made pasta and tortellini (stuffed pasta shells) and of course, the famous Spaghetti alla Bolognese.
Top itineraries in Bologna
Explore the very best of Italy on this 12-day luxury rail journey from the waterways of Venice to Pompeii’s ash-laden streets and Bologna’s culinary delights. Then, cross the water by rail ferry to Sicily's hilltop towns, idyllic coastlines and crumbling Roman ruins.
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