1. Piazza Maggiore
As the central square in Bologna, the Piazza Maggiore is located right in the centre of the city and serves as an important historical place. This square is packed full with important buildings including the Pallazo d’Accursio, the Palazzo del Podesta, the Basilica di San Petronio and the Palazzo Comunale. Furthermore, to the north west of the square sits the Piazza del Nettuno that contains the famous Fountain of Neptune.
Admire the fantastic architecture, visit the palaces and basilica, or sit and enjoy a fine Italian meal at one of the restaurants nestled in the Porticos. A fantastic vibe and atmosphere can be found at the Piazza and open air movies and concerts are sometimes held here.
2. The leaning towers of Bologna
Who would of thought that the famous tower at Pisa is not the only leaning tower? Bologna actually has a pair of leaning towers and one is taller than the iconic Leaning Tower of Pisa! Bologna actually has a myriad of towers, but the two tall examples standing in the Piazza di Porta Ravegnana are the most legendary.
Torre Asinelli, the tallest medieval tower, and Torre Garisenda, stand next to each other and are both named after important Italian families. Asinelli stands at 97.2m and was used as a prison and a stronghold. Garisenda stands at 48m but has an extremely noticeable tilt and overhang of 3.2m. Climb the towers for unparalleled views of Bologna and see the epic landscapes stretching for miles around.
3. Basilica of San Petronio
This immense structure stands as the 10th largest church in the world by volume and presents a domineering presence in the centre of the Piazza Maggiore. Dedicated to Saint Petronius who is actually the patron saint of Bologna, the church has a Gothic design and it is noted for both it sheer size and its unfinished front facade. Originally constructed in 1388 through to 1479, the church has never been truly finished and its front facade is quite bizarre, the lower half features coloured marble stone work, whilst the top half remains bare and contains exposed brown brickwork. Inside the church feels truly epic. The large brick columns, adorned with decoration, seem to stretch forever and the main altar draws your attention as you walk down the central aisle.
4. San Petronio's terrace
When visiting the Basilica of San Petronio, be sure to go to the back of the church for access to the rooftop. Access is from outside the building where an elevator will take you to the top for one of the best views of Bologna. The city is beautiful to view from above and the surrounding hills of Emilia Romagna is breathtaking.
Access to the san Petronio's terrace costs only €3.
5. Neptune's Fountain
Located next to Piazza Maggiore is Piazza del Nettuno that centres around the sculpture of Neptune's Fountain. The fountain is an imposing sight with the God Neptune standing atop a three tiered fountain consisting of Nereids and Cherubs. Construction dates back to 1567.
One interesting fact, the trident logo on the Maserati sports car, is copied from the the trident on Neptune's Fountain, in Piazza del Nettuno.
Listed as one of the most important buildings in Bologna, the Archiginnasio was once the main buildings of the University of Bologna and now houses the famous Anatomical Theatre. This fantastic building was created in the 16th century and is located on the Piazza Galvani. As a piece of historical architecture, the Achiginnasio is fantastic in its own right, but the Anatomical Theatre is undoubtedly the centre piece.
Created completely in wood, this small room has an immense amount of wood panelling and carved statues of famous medical practitioners. Furthermore, in the centre of the room surrounded by seating platforms lies an ornate anatomical table. This is the place where university students would have learnt about the human anatomy and watched dissections and demonstrations of surgery etc.
7. Monte della Guardia
The longest portico in the world leads up to the top of Monte della Guardia. This forested hill provides a fantastic escape from the city and reaches a height of approximately 300m. You can find the hill to the south west of Bolongna in close proximity to the Reno River. Walk the length of the portico (partially enclosed walkway that is lined with arches and columns) and climb the slopes to reach the top of this wonderful hill. The walk is about 3.8 km.
At the top you will be greeted with unparalleled panoramic views of Bologna and the surrounding regions. Furthermore, the delightful Sanctuary of the Madonna of San Luca is perched on top of the hill and it is a fantastic church to visit in its own right.
8. Bologna Archaeological Museum
A fine museum in the heart of Bologna, the Archaeological Museum offers a fantastic insight into the history of the city throughout the ages. Located on the Piazza Maggiore, the museum is easily accessible and is a fascinating place to visit.
The museum hosts a huge range of collections and is split into 9 different sections. Each collection contains a superb display of different artefacts, these include: Prehistoric, Etruscan, Celtic, Greek, Roman, Egyptian and Numismatic. Each collection contains a superb display of different artefacts such as Bronze Age tools, skeletal remains, pottery, weaponry, china and marble statues.
Due to the large collection and its variety, you could spend hours admiring the displays and learning about the ancient history of the region.
9. Torre Prendiparte
Only a handful of these tall, narrow stone towers built during the Middle Ages still remain today in their original shape and design, one of which is the Torre Prendiparte. This particular tower was constructed during the 12th century and stands at 59.50 metres high. Located on the Piazza Prendiparte, the tower lies close to the two leaning towers and the Piazza Maggiore. It now hosts a bed and breakfast establishment which offers a unique experience, but the levels of the tower are also still open and you can climb to the top and explore this wonderful building.
10. Explore the Porticoes
Bologna is famed for its extensive Portico. A Portico is essentially a partially enclosed walkway that is lined with arches and columns. As Bologna grew as a university city, so did the amount of Porticos present in the city. It is reported that within the confines of the city centre, you can walk through 40km of corridors.
There are numerous different porticos scattered around the city but the most famous are the Bonaccorsi Arch and the walkway leading to the Sanctuary of the Madonna di San Luca. Walk through the porticos and admire the wonderful ancient architecture.