The Renaissance towers, medieval city walls and tiled rooftops that wash the city with a mosaic of stunning reds have helped grow its reputation as one of the most photogenic cities in northern Italy. Yet where Florence, Milan and Venice have huge crowds of tourists, Bologna has a tight-knit community of locals, giving the city an intimate feel. Bologna is home to Europe’s oldest university, and the large student population makes for a spirited nightlife. While Bologna’s history is long and fascinating, its contemporary culture is alive and well, with some of Italy’s finest restaurants, galleries and festivals calling the city home.
Bologna is beautiful year round, but to experience the sun-drenched streets and rooftops that its known for, visit during the months between April and October. Those coming in winter will love the city’s famous covered walkways, known as I Portici. These make it possible to traverse the city center away from the elements. Follow the walkways to reach the city’s major attractions, including Torre degli Asinelli and Torre dei Garisenda, the twin Renaissance towers that can be seen throughout Bologna.
Food is something held dear to an Italian’s heart, so the fact that Bologna is considered the culinary capital of Italy should excite even the most fair-weather of foodies. Thanks to the excellent quality of produce and the importance placed on cooking, it’s difficult to find a bad meal here. Look for the pizzerias and trattorias that are crowded with locals, as they are likely to be the best in the area. Pasta served with a rich, meaty sauce is a regional delicacy, now known around the world as Spaghetti Bolognese.
Bologna is well connected to all major Italian centers by Italy’s high-speed rail system, but also caters to international visitors with its international airport. Once in town you can use buses, taxis or walk, but why not move like the locals and hire a bike to see the city in style.