A brief through the history of Bologna
Bologna has a long and rich history, with evidence of human habitation dating back to the 10th century BC. The Etruscans, Celts, and Romans all occupied the area at different times, with the Romans founding a settlement called Bononia in 189 BC.
During the Middle Ages, Bologna became a thriving center of commerce and culture, with a renowned university founded in 1088. The city was also an important center for the arts, with many famous artists and architects working there.
In the 14th and 15th centuries, Bologna was ruled by a series of powerful families and underwent significant urban development, with the construction of impressive public buildings and private palaces.
In the 16th century, Bologna became part of the Papal States, and the city's fortunes declined somewhat as the power of the Papacy waned. However, Bologna continued to be an important cultural and intellectual center, and many important thinkers and artists lived and worked there.
In the 19th century, Bologna became part of the newly-formed Kingdom of Italy and underwent significant modernization and industrialization.
Local tour guides in Bologna and Italy
Today, Bologna is a vibrant and bustling city with a rich cultural heritage and a thriving economy. On our website www.pg.world you can find local private English-speaking tour guides in Bologna who offer personalized tours and excursions. Hiring a local tour guide can be a great way to learn more about the city's history, culture, and attractions, as well as explore areas off the beaten path.
When booking a private tour guide, make sure to communicate your interests and preferences to the tour guide, so they can tailor the tour to your needs. Additionally, be sure to confirm the price and the tour itinerary in advance, so you know what to expect.
Bologna has been famous for many things throughout its history. Here are a few examples:
- Bologna's university, which was founded in 1088 and is one of the oldest universities in the world. It has a long tradition of excellence in the arts, sciences, and humanities.
- Bologna's cuisine, which is renowned throughout Italy and the world. Some of the city's most famous dishes include tagliatelle al ragù (a type of pasta with a meat-based sauce) and mortadella (a kind of boiled sausage from Bologna).
- Bologna's role as a center of art and culture. Many famous artists and architects, such as Giorgio Morandi and Jacopo della Quercia, lived and worked in Bologna.
- Bologna's architecture, which includes many impressive public buildings and private palaces from the medieval and Renaissance periods.
- Bologna's strategic location, which made it an important center of commerce and transportation in medieval and Renaissance Europe.
- Bologna's role in the Italian Risorgimento, or unification movement, in the 19th century. Many Bolognese played key roles in the movement, and the city was an important center of political and cultural activity during this time.
Bologna has many interesting and beautiful places for tourists to visit. Here are a few popular ones:
- Piazza Maggiore: This is the main square in Bologna and a great place to start exploring the city. It is home to several historic buildings, including the Basilica di San Petronio and the Palazzo Comunale.
- Two Towers: The Two Towers are a symbol of Bologna and a popular attraction for visitors. The taller tower, Torre degli Asinelli, can be climbed for a stunning view of the city.
- Basilica di San Petronio: This is the largest church in Bologna and an impressive example of Gothic architecture. It is located on Piazza Maggiore and is free to enter.
- Archiginnasio of Bologna: The Archiginnasio is a historic building that was once the main building of the University of Bologna. It now houses the Municipal Library and the Anatomical Theatre.
- Santo Stefano: This complex of seven churches is one of the most unique and interesting attractions in Bologna. It dates back to the 5th century and has a fascinating history.
- Mercato di Mezzo: This historic market in the heart of Bologna is a great place to sample local food and wine. It has been in operation for over 800 years.
- Museums: Bologna has several excellent museums, including the National Art Gallery, the Museum of Modern Art, and the Museum of the History of Bologna.
- Porticoes of Bologna: Bologna is famous for its porticoes, which are covered walkways that line many of the city's streets. They are a unique and beautiful feature of the city and provide shelter from the rain and sun.
Piazza Maggiore is the main square of Bologna and one of the most popular attractions in the city. It is a large, open-air space surrounded by several historic buildings, including the Basilica di San Petronio, the Palazzo Comunale (Town Hall), the Palazzo dei Banchi, and the Palazzo del Podestà.
The square has been the center of public life in Bologna for centuries and is a great place to experience the city's lively atmosphere. Visitors can sit at one of the outdoor cafes, watch street performers, or simply admire the beautiful architecture.
One of the most striking features of Piazza Maggiore is the Fountain of Neptune, a giant statue of the sea god Neptune that is surrounded by tritons and sea horses. It was built in the 16th century and is considered one of the finest examples of Mannerist sculpture in Italy.
The Basilica di San Petronio, which dominates one side of the square, is the largest church in Bologna and a masterpiece of Gothic architecture. The facade is adorned with beautiful sculptures and carvings, and the interior contains several works of art, including frescoes by the famous Renaissance artist Giovanni da Modena.
The Palazzo Comunale, also known as the Palazzo d'Accursio, is the town hall of Bologna and houses several important art collections, including works by Francesco Francia and other Renaissance artists. Piazza Maggiore is a must-see destination for visitors to Bologna and a great place to begin exploring this beautiful and historic city.
The Fountain of Neptune
The Fountain of Neptune is a famous landmark located in the center of Piazza Maggiore in Bologna, Italy. The fountain was designed by the Flemish sculptor Giambologna in the late 16th century and completed by the Italian sculptor Tommaso Laureti. The fountain is made of bronze and marble and features a large statue of Neptune, the Roman god of the sea, standing on a seashell chariot. The statue is surrounded by several smaller figures, including sea nymphs and cherubs, and is adorned with various sea creatures. The Fountain of Neptune was originally built as a symbol of Bologna's power and control over the surrounding seas. It is one of the most recognizable landmarks in Bologna and is a popular spot for tourists to take photos and relax in the nearby outdoor seating areas. In recent years, the fountain has undergone several restorations to address issues such as corrosion and damage caused by pollution. Today, it remains a popular attraction in the city and a testament to Bologna's rich history and cultural heritage.
The Two Towers
The Two Towers of Bologna, Torre degli Asinelli and Torre Garisenda, were built in the 12th century as part of a defensive system for the city. They were constructed by two wealthy families who were trying to outdo each other in building the tallest tower.
The Torre degli Asinelli is the taller of the two towers, standing at around 97 meters (318 feet) tall. It was built in 1109 and was used as a lookout tower for the city's defenses. The Torre Garisenda, which stands at around 48 meters (157 feet) tall, was built in 1110 and was originally around 60 meters (197 feet) tall. However, it was partially demolished in the 14th century due to stability issues, and today it leans at a noticeable angle.
The towers were constructed using brick and wood, with the taller tower containing more than 500 steps leading to the top. Over the centuries, the towers have become an iconic symbol of Bologna and are a popular tourist attraction. The taller tower, Torre degli Asinelli, can be climbed by visitors who want to enjoy a stunning view of the city from the top. You have to buy the entrance ticket for 5 euros in advance either by QR code found next to the Tower entrance or at the Tourist office on Piazza Maggiore.
Throughout the centuries, the towers have been used for a variety of purposes, including as a prison, a shelter during wartime, and even as a laboratory for experiments by Galileo Galilei. Today, they are one of the most popular and recognizable landmarks of Bologna and a testament to the city's rich history and architectural heritage.
The Basilica di San Petronio
The Basilica di San Petronio is a massive church located in the heart of Bologna, Italy. It is one of the largest churches in the world, and an impressive example of Gothic architecture. The basilica's construction began in 1390, and it was designed by a variety of architects over the centuries, including Antonio di Vincenzo and Antonio da Sangallo the Younger.
The church is named after Bologna's patron saint, Saint Petronius, and was designed to be a grand, monumental church that would rival the great cathedrals of northern Europe. The basilica's vast size and beautiful design reflect the city's wealth and power during the medieval period.
One of the most striking features of the basilica is its unfinished facade. The original plan was to decorate the entire facade with marble, but due to a lack of funds, only the lower half was completed. Nevertheless, the lower half is a beautiful example of Italian Gothic architecture, with ornate carvings and sculptures.
The interior of the basilica is equally impressive, with a soaring nave, beautiful stained glass windows, and a massive organ that dates back to the 16th century. The basilica is also home to several works of art, including frescoes by Giovanni da Modena and a beautiful terracotta sculpture by Jacopo della Quercia.
In addition to its architectural and artistic value, the Basilica di San Petronio has played an important role in the cultural and political history of Bologna. The church was often used for public events, such as coronations and meetings of the city council. Today, it is still a symbol of the city's rich cultural heritage and is a popular destination for tourists and pilgrims alike.
The Archiginnasio of Bologna
The Archiginnasio of Bologna is a historic building in the center of Bologna, Italy. It was constructed in the 16th century and served as the main building of the University of Bologna until the 19th century. Today, it is a popular tourist attraction and a testament to the city's rich history and cultural heritage.
The Archiginnasio is known for its beautiful architecture, which combines elements of Renaissance and Baroque design. The building features a stunning courtyard, ornate staircases, and intricate frescoes and carvings. One of the most impressive features of the Archiginnasio is the Anatomical Theatre, a lecture hall that was used for dissections and medical demonstrations.
The Archiginnasio also holds great cultural and historical significance for the city of Bologna. It was once home to one of the oldest and most prestigious universities in Europe and played a key role in the development of modern medicine and scientific research. The Anatomical Theatre, in particular, is considered an important landmark in the history of medical education.
In addition to its architectural and historical significance, the Archiginnasio is also home to a rich collection of artwork and artifacts. The building houses the Biblioteca Comunale dell'Archiginnasio, one of the largest and oldest libraries in Italy, as well as a number of art and sculpture collections.
the Archiginnasio of Bologna is a remarkable example of Renaissance architecture and an important symbol of the city's cultural heritage. It is a must-see destination for visitors to Bologna who is interested in history, art, and architecture.
Santo Stefano, also known as the Complex of the Seven Churches, is a historic architectural complex located in the center of Bologna, Italy. The complex is made up of several churches and chapels that were constructed over a period of several centuries, from the 5th to the 12th centuries.
The history of Santo Stefano dates back to the early Christian era when a small church was built on the site. Over the centuries, additional churches and chapels were added to the complex, each with its own unique design and architectural style. The complex is named after Saint Stephen, the first Christian martyr.
The complex is a stunning example of Romanesque and Gothic architecture, and its various buildings feature beautiful frescoes, sculptures, and other works of art. The most notable facilities within the complex include the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, which was modeled after the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem, and the Church of St. Vitale, which features a beautiful 16th-century altarpiece by the artist Guercino.
The significance of Santo Stefano goes beyond its architectural and artistic value. The complex has played an important role in the religious and cultural history of Bologna and has been a site of pilgrimage for centuries. The complex was also used as a hospital and a refuge for travelers and pilgrims and even served as a prison during the Middle Ages.
Today, Santo Stefano remains an important symbol of Bologna's cultural heritage and is a popular destination for visitors who are interested in history, art, and architecture. Its beautiful architecture and rich history make it a must-see attraction for anyone visiting Bologna.
The porticoes of Bologna
The porticoes of Bologna are a system of covered walkways that line many of the streets in the historic city center. The porticoes are an iconic feature of Bologna and are recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The history of the porticoes dates back to the Middle Ages when they were built as a way to expand living space in the crowded city center. The porticoes provided shelter and protection from the elements and allowed merchants to display their wares outside without getting wet.
Over time, the porticoes became an integral part of Bologna's architectural and cultural identity. They were extended and embellished over the centuries, and today there are more than 45 kilometers of porticoes throughout the city.
The architecture of the porticoes is diverse, ranging from simple structures made of wood and brick to elaborate structures with ornate arches and intricate carvings. Some of the most famous porticoes in Bologna include the Portico di San Luca, a 3.8-kilometer-long structure that leads up to the Sanctuary of the Madonna di San Luca, and the Portico del Pavaglione, a beautiful covered arcade that lines the Piazza Maggiore.
The porticoes of Bologna are more than just a beautiful architectural feature, however. They also have a deep cultural and social significance for the people of Bologna. The porticoes provide a sense of community and belonging and are a place where people can gather, socialize, and exchange ideas. They have been the site of many historic events, including political rallies, religious processions, and cultural festivals.
The porticoes of Bologna are a remarkable testament to the city's history and cultural heritage. They are a symbol of the city's resilience, creativity, and sense of community, and remain an important and beloved feature of the city to this day.
Finestrella del Piella
Finestrella del Piella is a small window located in the historic city center of Bologna, Italy. The window is situated in the narrow Vicolo del Piella alley and provides a unique view of the city.
The window is also known as the "little window of the lovers" because of a romantic legend associated with it. According to the legend, a young couple, unable to be together, would meet at the window to exchange messages of love and affection. The window became a symbol of their love and longing for each other, and over time, it became a popular spot for lovers to visit.
Today, the window is a popular tourist attraction, and visitors often line up to catch a glimpse of the view. The view from the window is unique because it offers a rare glimpse of the canals that used to run through the city. The canals have long since been covered up, but at the Finestrella del Piella, visitors can still see a small section of the waterway and the reflections of the buildings above.
The window itself is small and unassuming, but it holds a special place in the hearts of the people of Bologna. It is a symbol of love, hope, and the enduring spirit of the city. For visitors to Bologna, the Finestrella del Piella is a must-see destination that offers a glimpse into the city's rich history and culture.
The Portico of St. Luke
The Portico of St. Luke is a 3.8-kilometer-long covered walkway that leads from the city of Bologna up to the Sanctuary of the Madonna di San Luca, located on a hill overlooking the city. The portico is one of the most important architectural and cultural landmarks in Bologna and is recognized as a symbol of the city.
The portico was constructed in the 17th century and was designed by architect Carlo Francesco Dotti. It is made up of 666 arches, which are supported by 13,500 wooden poles. The arches are decorated with frescoes and paintings by a number of different artists, and some of the more notable works include pieces by Antonio Basoli and Gaetano Lodi.
The Portico of St. Luke holds great religious significance for the people of Bologna, and it is the site of an annual pilgrimage that takes place every year in October. The pilgrimage, which has been held for over 900 years, sees thousands of people make the journey up to the Sanctuary of the Madonna di San Luca to pay their respects and offer prayers.
In addition to its religious significance, the Portico of St. Luke is also an important cultural and historical landmark. It offers stunning views of the city and the surrounding countryside and provides a unique glimpse into the architecture and culture of Bologna. Visitors can walk the length of the portico, take in the views, and admire the intricate decorations and frescoes along the way.
The Portico of St. Luke is an important part of Bologna's architectural and cultural heritage. It is a testament to the creativity and skill of the city's architects and artists and a symbol of the city's enduring spirit and resilience.
The Sanctuary of the Madonna di San Luca
The Sanctuary of the Madonna di San Luca is a basilica located on a hilltop outside of Bologna, Italy. The sanctuary is dedicated to the Virgin Mary, and it is one of the most important religious sites in the region. It is also a popular tourist destination, thanks to its stunning architecture and scenic location.
The sanctuary was built in the 18th century, and it is connected to the city of Bologna by the Portico of San Luca, a covered walkway that stretches for 3.5 kilometers and features over 600 arches. The portico is one of the longest in the world and is a remarkable engineering feat.
The sanctuary itself is a beautiful example of baroque architecture, with a grand façade featuring a large central dome and twin bell towers. The interior of the sanctuary is richly decorated with frescoes and artwork, and it houses numerous chapels, altars, and sculptures.
One of the most essential features of the sanctuary is its revered image of the Madonna di San Luca. The image is a Byzantine-style painting of the Virgin Mary, and it is believed to have miraculous powers. It is enshrined in a chapel within the sanctuary, and it draws thousands of pilgrims and visitors every year.
The Sanctuary of the Madonna di San Luca is not only a place of worship but also a cultural and historical landmark. Its stunning architecture and rich history make it a popular destination for visitors to Bologna, and the Portico of San Luca is a must-see attraction in its own right. The sanctuary and the portico offer a unique glimpse into the art, architecture, and spirituality of Bologna and are an essential part of the city's cultural heritage.
Palazzo Re Enzo
Palazzo Re Enzo is a historic palace located in the heart of Bologna, Italy. The palace was originally built in the 13th century as an extension of the nearby Palazzo del Podestà and served as a residence for Enzio of Sardinia, the son of Emperor Frederick II.
The palace is a stunning example of medieval architecture and features a mix of Gothic and Renaissance elements. The exterior of the palace is characterized by its crenelated towers and the ornate façade that faces the Piazza del Nettuno. The interior of the palace features a number of magnificent halls and rooms, including the Sala del Trono, which was used as the throne room for the city's rulers.
Over the centuries, Palazzo Re Enzo has served a number of different purposes, including as a courthouse and a prison. Today, the palace is used for cultural events and exhibitions, and it is open to the public for guided tours with local English-speaking private tour guides in Bologna.
One of the highlights of the palace is the Chapel of Santa Maria dei Carcerati, which is located on the ground floor of the palace. The chapel was originally used as a prison, and it features a number of remarkable frescoes by artists such as Jacopo Avanzi and Antonio de' Rossi. The frescoes depict scenes from the life of Saint Francis of Assisi, and they are considered to be some of the finest examples of 14th-century art in Bologna.
Palazzo Re Enzo is a must-see attraction for visitors to Bologna. Its stunning architecture and rich history make it an essential part of the city's cultural heritage, and the chapel's frescoes are an incredible example of the art and craftsmanship of the period.
Arriving to Bologna
Bologna is located in the Emilia-Romagna region of northern Italy and is well-connected to other cities in Italy and Europe.
By Air: Bologna's airport, Guglielmo Marconi Airport, is located just a few kilometers from the city center and is served by numerous airlines, including budget carriers like Ryanair and EasyJet. It has direct flights to many major European cities Paris, London, Warsaw, Berlin, Frankfurt, Madrid, and Helsinki as well as some destinations in North Africa and the Middle East - Istanbul, Tel Aviv, and Dubai. From the airport, you can take a shuttle bus, a taxi, or the Aerobus BLQ to get to the city center.
By Train: Bologna is a major rail hub and has high-speed train connections to many Italian and European cities. The main train station in Bologna is called Bologna Centrale, and it is located in the city center. From here, you can take a taxi or a bus to your accommodation.
By Bus: Bologna is also served by many long-distance bus companies, including Eurolines and Flixbus. Buses arrive and depart from the Autostazione di Bologna, which is located near the train station.
By Car: If you are driving, Bologna is well-connected to the rest of Italy by a network of highways. The A1 autostrada connects Bologna to Milan in the north and Florence and Rome in the south.
Once in Bologna, the city center is easily walkable, and many of the main sights are located within a few minutes walk of each other. Bologna also has an extensive public transportation system, including buses and a subway, which makes it easy to get around the city.
A few more recommendations for tourists who plan to visit Bologna:
- Explore the local food scene: Bologna is known for its delicious cuisine, including fresh pasta, cured meats, and cheeses. Be sure to try some of the local specialties, such as tagliatelle al ragù (Bolognese sauce) and mortadella.
- Visit the nearby towns: Bologna is located in the heart of Emilia-Romagna, a region known for its beautiful countryside and picturesque towns. Some nearby towns worth visiting include Modena, Parma, and Ravenna.
- Take a cooking class: If you're interested in learning more about the local cuisine, consider taking a cooking class. Many local chefs and cooking schools offer classes where you can learn how to make traditional dishes.
- Enjoy the local wine: Emilia-Romagna is also known for its wine, including Lambrusco and Sangiovese. Take a wine tour to visit local vineyards and taste some of the region's best wines.
- Attend a cultural event: Bologna is a city with a rich cultural heritage, and there are many festivals and events throughout the year. Consider attending the Bologna Children's Book Fair, the Biografilm Festival, or the Bologna Jazz Festival.
- Take a walk in the hills: Bologna is surrounded by beautiful hills and parks, and there are many hiking trails and scenic walks to enjoy. The San Luca Basilica is a great destination for a scenic walk, with great views over the city.
- Visit the museums: Bologna has several excellent museums, including the National Art Gallery of Bologna, the Museum of the History of Bologna, and the Museum of Music. These museums are a great way to learn more about the history and culture of the city.
Weather and climate
Bologna has a humid subtropical climate, characterized by hot summers and cold winters. The climate in Bologna is influenced by its location in northern Italy and its proximity to the Adriatic Sea. Here's a breakdown of the climate in Bologna throughout the year:
Spring (March-May): During the spring, temperatures in Bologna range from cool to mild, with average high temperatures ranging from 13°C (55°F) in March to 23°C (73°F) in May. This is a good time to visit Bologna if you want to avoid the summer crowds.
Summer (June - August): Summers in Bologna can be hot and humid, with average high temperatures ranging from 27°C (81°F) in June to 31°C (88°F) in August. The warm weather makes this a popular time to visit but be prepared for high temperatures and occasional thunderstorms.
Fall (September - November): The fall in Bologna is generally mild, with average high temperatures ranging from 22°C (72°F) in September to 10°C (50°F) in November. The autumn foliage can be beautiful, and there are often many local festivals and events to enjoy.
Winter (December - February): Winters in Bologna are cold and often rainy, with average high temperatures ranging from 6°C (43°F) in January to 11°C (52°F) in February. Snow is rare, but it can occur from time to time.
The best time to visit Bologna is in the spring or fall when the weather is mild and the crowds are smaller. However, if you don't mind the heat and humidity, the summer can also be a great time to visit.
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