Bologna – you hottie! Making yourself look good with all that pasta, Prosciutto di Parma, mortadella and Parmigiano-Reggiano the size of tractor wheels.
One day in Bologna hardly seems enough if you want to dig deep into Italy’s food capital, but that shouldn’t stop you. You can always come back. And you’ll want to – trust me.
Bologna is the perfect destination if you love to mix food and culture. In this Bologna itinerary, I’ll guide you through one day in Bologna – a day full of food and Bologna attractions.
What to do in Bologna in a day
We start at Piazza Maggiore around 10:00 am. There’s no reason to rise early. The Italians don’t, so why should you. Don’t just travel to Italy – act Italian, let the culture sink in.
Take in Piazza Maggiore
Piazza Maggiore is located in the very centre of Bologna and is a good starting point for exploring Bologna. Piazza Maggiore is huge, one of the biggest squares in Italy actually, and a meeting point for a lot of the inhabitants of the city. Most of them just drop down on the piazza and start chatting away. The piazza is surrounded by buildings like Palazzo D’Accursio, the city’s Town Hall and home to the City Art Collection, and the Basilica of San Petronio housing the largest sundial in the world.
The first glass of wine
Too early in the day? That’s up to you, but a stone’s throw from Piazza Maggiore you find the butcher shop, wine bar and trattoria called Tamburini.
Huge Parma hams, fresh pasta and a great selection of local wines leave you with no option but to grab a seat order some bubbles and a selection of cold cuts.
Admire the city’s porticos
Bologna has the most porticos in the world with nearly 40 km of long walkways and tall arches that will shelter you from the sun and rain. The covered walkways give Bologna its unique character dating back to the 1100s. when the growth of the University called for new spaces for urban development. The porticos have become a symbol of Bologna and are on the UNESCO World Heritage List. At some point, a law was made that the porticos had to be tall enough to allow a man with a hat on a horse ride under the porticos.
Throughout the city, you find different examples of porticos from different time eras. On Strada Maggiore 19 a rare example of a 13th-century portico supported by 9 meters tall oak beams can be admired, and at Piazza Carvour you find the most beautiful frescoed porticos. The porticos of Bologna are some the great free Bologna attractions you find in the city.
Take in the view from Santuario di San Luca
Santuario de San Luca is a beautiful church as well as a visual landmark for the Bolognese. The church is placed on a hill about 4 km/2.5 miles outside of the city centre, and the world’s longest portico (3,796 m) takes you from the city to the church. The portico has over 600 arches, 15 pilgrimage stations and the second half of it is a pretty steep climb. I thought “Pfff, this is a walk in the park”, but boy was I wrong. It took us a little under two hours to climb the full length of the portico. The San Luca portico was completed in the early 18th century.
If you don’t want to walk to Santuario de San Luca you can jump on the small tourist train “The San Luca Express“. It leaves from Piazza Maggiore, and a return ticket costs 10.00 €. I would, however, recommend the walk – it is beautiful.
Indulge at All’Osteria Bottega
Eating at All’Osteria Bottega is like taking a bite of the Emilia Romagna region. The cheeses, the ham, the pasta – it’s just so good! The menu card is not big, but you find all the treasures of the Emilia Romagna region on it. Many of the items on the card have been hand-picked by the chefs at All’Osteria Bottega, and it seems like they know what they’re doing. The restaurant serves traditional Italian dishes, and the prices are very fair. We got bubbles, cheeses, hams, pasta, pigeon (yes, pigeon), a dessert, a bottle of wine, sparkling water and coffee for no more than 140 €. All’Osteria Bottega is on the way from Santuario de San Luca to Pizza Maggiore. You might think you’ve taken a wrong turn when you’re trying to find the restaurant, but you probably haven’t. It’s just well hidden.
This is what The Michelin Guide says about All’Osteria Bottega: A bastion of Bolognese cuisine, this simple restaurant has an authentic family atmosphere. The menu features the best hams from the region, fresh pasta and traditional meats.
Contact info: firstname.lastname@example.org
Adresse: Via Santa Caterina, 51, 40123 Bologna.
Remember to make a reservation.
See the city from above
Between the 12th and the 13th century, the number of towers in Bologna was very high, possibly up to 180. It is said the towers was a way rich families tried to outdo each other in a “mine is bigger than yours” sort of way. Today, only 24 towers remain, and the most famous ones are Torre degli Asinelli and Torre Garisenda. Torre degli Asinelli was built between 1109 and 1119 and rises 97.20 metres into the air. The internal staircase contains an exhausting 498 steps and was finished in 1684.
The nearby Torre Garisenda, contemporaneous with the previous one, is visually different due to its lower stature of only 47 metres.
It costs 5 € to climb the 498 steps of Torre degli Asinelli. Buy tickets here: Le Due Torri.
There you have it: A Bologna itinerary that covers what to do in Bologna in one day. I hope it’ll help you out your own perfect Bologna itinerary together. And if you liked it – why not pin it. You have to do the hover-thing.