One country in the world that I will never get bored of exploring is Italy — no matter how many times I visit, it will never seize to amaze me. Let me share with you my experience of spending one day in Bologna. For my Easter break I was looking at visiting a close by destination, a short getaway from Athens and since during my last trip I visited Rome, Florence, Siena and San Gimignano this time round flying into the Emilia-Romagna region seemed like a great idea. I booked my tickets with Ryanair and actually the morning flight is a convenient option as by noon I was already enjoying my first Italian cappuccino at the Piazza Maggiore.
One Day in Bologna
Bologna is not only a historically attractive capital and the 7th most popular city in Italy but it is also a foodies heaven. The best place to start your day in Bologna is at the Piazza Maggiore where you can soak in the lively atmosphere by enjoying a cup of coffee or an Aperol Spitz(more on that later, so keep on reading) in the surrounding of the city’s most important historical monuments.
Once you step foot at the Piazza Maggiore the place where people gathered and where the market was held during the Medieval times, you will be welcomed by the imposing statue of Neptune located at the Piazza Neptunno which was built here in 1566 according to the inscription which can be found at the base of the fountain.
Piazza Maggiore is home to the most important historical buildings which date back to the 13th century. Palazzo D’ Accursio o Comenale which operated as a Town Hall until 2008 is a set of buildings which have been joined together over the centuries and today house some of the most important Municipal Art Collections.
Basilica di San Petronio dominates the square of Piazza Maggiore. It was named in honour of Bologna’s patron saint Petronio who apparently was of Greek origin and was the city’s 8th bishop during the 5th century. The Basilica is the most important church of Bologna and was intended to be the largest in the world however it was never fully completed at the pope did not approve of it being larger than the Papal Basilica of St. Peter in the Vatican.
The construction of the Basilica di San Petronio was an on going process with several famous architects taking part in the process. The lower facade of the Basilica is made of marble whereas the upper part is made of exposed bricks.
Take a walk through the Porticoes of Bologna
The city of Bologna contains some 38 kilometres of porticoes which were built during a long historic period and have become a distinctive feature in the city’s architecture.
Between 1100 and 1200 when Bologna became the “University city” welcoming large numbers of students from all over Europe, there was a rise in the typical house dwellings where student houses were created at the upper floors leaving the ground floors to be used as shops and artisan workshops. The porticoes provided street shelter at all times of year and during all weather conditions.
Get lost in the streets of Bologna
Every side street that you turn in Bologna you are bound to encounter something magical. Bologna is also known to be a market city and there are various markets which you can stumble upon as you walk around the city.
At a very close distance from the Piazza Maggiore located in Bologna’s historic city center you will come across the Galleria Cavour which houses some of the most luxurious international boutiques, anything from Hermès to Louis Vuitton and Tiffany & Co.
Aperitivo time – anytime
Whenever I go to Italy I usually love to embrace this important ritual at different times of day, enjoying prosciutto and wine is one of my favourite parts of experiencing Italy. There is a great Proscuitteria located right on the side street from the Piazza Maggiore, I don’t remember the name but you are sure to pass it by! Generally what I noticed is that the prices in Bologna are cheaper than in other Italian cities.
You can enjoy an Aperol Spritz at any time of day as it is the most common drink in Italy and you will see many Italians holding an orange colour drink, anywhere you go. Aperitivo time is the most important ritual which can be enjoyed after 6pm where bars/cafes other than the drink will serve you a plate of complementary snacks, such as small pizza slices, olives and chips.
Where to Stay
We stayed at the Ramada Encore hotel in Bologna which was only about 10 minutes drive from the airport. The hotel is great for business travellers as well as city break visitors. There is a bus number 25 that stops right outside from the hotel and goes straight into the city centre, it takes approximately 15 minutes to get into the centre. Their rooms were spacious enough and had an excellent shower. Based on their breakfast description on their website we were actually pleasantly surprised as they served a very good breakfast with a selection of excellent quality cold cuts, eggs, bio products and pastries.
It is also closely located to the Bologna Centrale railway station which is what we wanted as we travelled to other cities as well. I hope you enjoyed my One day in Bologna post, stay tuned for more travels.