Bologna is one of those cities I’d heard of, but knew nothing about, and it turns out it’s a very cool place. Famous for its towers, its porticos, its university (the world’s oldest) and its food; the culture vibe in Bologna is strong. Add this to the city’s turbulent history and decimation in the second world war and you’ve got a great place to visit.
We arrived from Venice and had a day and a night to explore, and fortunately we had some friends to take us out for a genuine Bologna food experience.
We arrived by rental car (see Verona blog for info), but Bologna has all the connections you would expect.
Direct Ryan Air flights from London Stansted return start at €38, which is really very cheap. It’s only a two-hour flight but if Ryan Air isn’t your thing, Easy Jet fly from €57 and British Airways from €109.
Bologna is also well-connected by train, it’s only two hours from Rome and one hour from Milan.
Pre Airbnb again, so we were at the Hotel Imperial which is outside the ring road about 6km from the city centre. I think a taxi to town from our hotel was about €6 to €7, so not too bad. We chose this location because at the time it was cheap and looked like a good option. Right now, a room here will set you back €63, which is easily €10 more than we paid at the time.
Hostel dorms start from around €20 and there aren’t many around, but Bologna has it’s fair share of good bnb’s that start from €26 a night for a shared room.
I would say that being outside the ring road is a little far from the action, so if you can find accommodation inside it, do so. Inside the city walls, the historic UNESCO protected centre is about 3km (1.8 miles) wall to wall, which is very walkable and where most attractions are.
Bologna was devastated in WW2, but large sections of original 13th century ramparts remain alongside even earlier Roman ruins. Vast porticos (24 miles in total just in the city centre) line the streets, connecting the gates, churches and parks, and create a wonderful combination of different eras to please anyone even slightly interested in history.
Close to the centre is ‘Le Due Torri’, or ‘The Two Towers’; two of the still standing, although leaning, towers from the 11th century. You can climb Asinelli’s terrifying wooden staircase, assembled in a spiral around the inside walls, for €3, which is well worth the vertigo for the views of Bologna’s red roofs.
We were taken out to dinner by some locals (friends of friends), who showed us what Bologna cuisine was all about. Ordering off the menu we sampled delights of traditional Tagliatelle Ragu (Bolognese), Tortellini, squid ink Risotto, local Lambrusco and Limoncello like nothing I’ve tried since. It still stands as one of the best meals I’ve ever had and came in easily under €20 each including drinks. Unfortunately for you, I can’t remember where this restaurant was or what it was called as we had no part in planning the evening. Helpful I know.
Hint – Take a stroll through the ‘Parco Montagnola’ for awesome ancient ruins, buildings and nature.
Bologna for one night:
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