Boasting one of the country’s great medieval cityscapes – an eye-catching ensemble of red-brick palazzi, Renaissance towers and 40km of arcaded porticoes – Bologna is a wonderful alternative to the north’s more famous cities. Italy’s culinary capital, it’s an attractive, animated place; a large student population and active gay scene ensure a vitality that’s so often missing in many of Emilia’s smaller towns.
Nicknamed la rossa (‘the red’ – as much a political moniker as reference to its colourful buildings), Bologna has long had a reputation for left-wing militancy. Passions have cooled since students faced down tanks in 1977, but the city remains highly political. Italian prime minister Romano Prodi is from Bologna and the university, Europe’s oldest, is still a source of student agitation.
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Best places to stay in Bologna
Italian food in Italy: not your mamma's meatballs
Listen closely when your jet touches down in Italy, and you may hear the rumble of some 500 stomachs getting prepared for a proper feast. Italian is arguably the most popular cuisine worldwide, and with good reason: Italy has a population of just 60.
Bologna destination guides
Old school: Europe’s historic college towns
Ah, those halcyon student days. Picture cafes buzzing far past midnight with wine-fueled debates on the nature of love and mortality. Ancient libraries rich with the scent of arcane knowledge.
Private Tour: Gourmet Walking Tour of Bologna - Pasta, Mortadella and Chocolate
Take a private guided walking tour through the medieval market of Bologna and explore the history, art and traditions of the city and its famous food. With only a few hours to spare, it's the ideal way to savor the history, art and traditions of Bologna. You'll enjoy personalized attention from your professional guide on this gourmet walking tour.
Private Tour: Classical Bologna Walking Tour
Explore Bologna's untouched medieval center in style on a private walking tour with your own English-speaking guide to lead the way. You'll enjoy personalized attention on your private walking tour of Bologna's highlights. Untouched by mass tourism, Bologna is the capital of the prosperous Emilia Romagna region.