2 Days in Bologna: A Relaxing Travel Itinerary On Foot

When I was invited to spend 2 days in Bologna, I enjoyed a relaxing weekend at the 8 Boutique Design Apartments, a design boutique hotel with a strong personality. During my weekend, I also shot a commercial video with glimpses of Bologna. They were pleasant days of delicious food and relaxing walks.

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Bologna is a city you can visit on a single weekend on foot, unless you decide to have a tour of the surrounding villages, such as Dozza, the painted medieval village and one of the most romantic places for me. Bologna is a lively city with young students moving here to attend University. DAMS is the first Italian Degree Course dedicated to the visual and performing arts. For this reason, in Bologna, it is possible to appreciate numerous cultural initiatives that will keep you entertained during your stay.

TIP: Do you love to get lost in literary tours? Bologna knows how to amaze its visitors with characteristic and unusual libraries and book shops.

The first stop is Little Venice, in Via Piella, to admire the charming canal that runs between traditional yellow and orange houses. It is called Little Venice because it recalls the splendid Venice, the city on the water. Take a picture of the famous window overlooking the Moline Canal, a continuation of the Reno Canal. In medieval times, it was used to produce the energy needed to run 15 mills. Beyond the fourteenth-century walls, it joins the Aposa stream flowing under the city centre. Then, both of them flow into the Navile canal.

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NOTE: Bologna, already in the Middle Ages, was a thriving city thanks to the numerous waterways that acted both as a driving force for the mills and as navigable routes for navigation.

Through Via Indipendenza you will get to Piazza del Nettuno where you can admire the GiamBologna fountain or Neptune Fountain, the symbol of Bologna. By night, look at the wall to see the shadow of Neptune statue. The effect is simply amazing!

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If you love stunning views you can visit Torre Asinelli, just 2 minutes walking from the fountain. There are 2 towers: Torre Asinelli and Torre Garisenda, but you can only visit the first one. We are talking of the tallest leaning medieval tower in the world, built between 1109 and 1119 by the Asinelli family. You have to book in advance otherwise you cannot enter. 498 stairs will take you to the top to enjoy the panorama from the tower. The ticket is only €5.

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Then go to Sala Borsa, a charming library that once was the Bologna Stock Exchange. You can glimpse the ancient Roman settlements from the floor with glass slabs of the Bologna Stock Exchange. I recommend you to take a tour of the basement. It is not always open. Check out the timetables and ask for information.

The next stop is the church of San Petronio at Piazza Galvani, where there is the statue of the scientist who experiments on a frog. The church is the fourth largest one in the world.

Here is the gem: explore the famous “hidden forest” of San Petronio via the panoramic terrace. This is a guided tour of the attic of the basilica. Check out the website of the association Happens Only in Bologna. You can climb the terrace of San Petronio with the elevator to enjoy a beautiful view. The price for the panoramic terrace is €3.

Don’t miss the astronomer Cassini’s sundial, which at 67.27 meters is the longest in the world.

If you love chapels, I recommend two of them:

  1. The Musical Chapel of San Petronio, the oldest musical institution in Bologna (1436), whose most prestigious symbol is a still-functioning organ. It was built around 1470 by Lorenzo da Prato. It is the oldest in the world still in use.
  2. The Chapel of the Magi (IV) formerly Bolognini, whose walls were sumptuously frescoed by Giovanni da Modena with scenes representing “Heaven” and “Hell”.

In front of the church of San Petronio, you can enter the porch of Palazzo Re Enzo where you can experience the echo from the opposite corners. Walk through the porch of the Pavaglione. You will be at the courtyard of the Archiginnasio, a beautiful porch from 1600. Do not miss the stunning ancient library and the anatomical room. The amphitheater-shaped room was designed in 1637 for anatomical lessons by the Bolognese architect Antonio Paolucci. It was built in fir wood and decorated with statues depicting twelve famous doctors at the bottom, including Hippocrates, and twenty of the most famous anatomists of the Bolognese Studio at the top. The lecturer’s chair is flanked by two statues called “Spellati” sculpted in 1734. Above the canopy, a seated female figure, an allegory of Anatomy, receives as a tribute, not a flower but a femur from a winged putto.

Regarding the architecture, I am sure you will love the numerous arches that characterised Bologna.

NOTE: There is an interesting museum in Bologna and it is the Jewish Museum. It deserves a visit, if you love history.

4 places to eat and drink in Bologna

The places I am talking about are in the centre of Bologna, easy to reach on foot! No excuses. Bologna offers a wide choice of restaurants and bistros, some more elegant others more traditional. I have chosen a mix of them to try different options and experiment with different emotions. They all have an incredible quality/price ratio but Grand Hotel Majestic Già Baglioni is a luxury hotel.

By day

Trattoria la Montanara. I tasted the traditional tortellini in broth, one of the local Bolognese foods. And they tasted delicious! It is a characteristic and warm environment. You will feel at home. It is not big so book your table on time.

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Camera a Sud Vino e Cibo. You will love this traditional place. Great selection of wines, and a cosy atmosphere. Ideal for a short stay or to have Italian aperitivo. Prices are cheap.

By night

Grand Hotel Majestic Già Baglioni is located in an elegant 18th-century building, and offers a sophisticated setting, with furniture and frescoes. This is pure poetry. I had a glass of Amaretto with delicious pastries just before having dinner. What I liked the most was the classical music in the background that accompanies you as you enjoy your drink and observe the splendid frescoes. Suitable for those who appreciate more elegant settings and art.

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A Balus is one of my favourite restaurants for a refined dinner. I loved everything about it. The design with red bricks on the wall, the soft lights, the amazing food with great quality/price ratio, and the owners’ kindness.

Le Stanze. Aperitifs and DJ sets in a bar-restaurant with 17th-century frescoes and modern furnishings, inside a former chapel. This is a very nice place to meet lots of young people. Music is loud so I think it is not the right place if you are looking for something more peaceful. Despite everything, it is an experience to try just for the setting and the amazing cocktails.

As you can see, there is a lot to discover in Bologna but these 2 days were perfect for experiencing the best of it.

Which is the place that has made you more curious?

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