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Visiting Bologna in two days

Day One
Your discovery of Bologna starts in via Indipendenza, the main street of the city connecting Piazza Maggiore to the train station, near Piazza VIII Agosto, where every Friday there is the "Piazzola", one of the main markets of the city. Head towards via Mentana up to via Piella to discover the magic window that conceals a hidden canal.

Your visit continues towards the university area and its museums. You will find them a bit dusty but the children will certainly appreciate: 

- at the museo Capellini (Capellini museum): Europe's longest model of dinosaur, the Diplodocus (this museum was chosen since it is located in the city home to the oldest university in Europe)

- at the museo di Antropologia (museum of Anthropology): the impressive collection of stuffed animals from the rhinoceros to the puffer fish as well as an extraordinary number of birds and reptiles.

Consult the agenda of the museums when you are in town to check if any workshops are planned during the days of your visit.

Then continue towards via delle Belle Arti where you can enjoy the typical and refined cuisine of Bologna in the Trattoria AnnaMaria. Alternatively, in via Righi, you can breathe an atmosphere of history and elegance at the restaurant Donatello.

Wander in the streets of the old Jewish ghetto: look out for the hidden towers (you should know that Bologna was also called the "Turrita" for the more than 100 towers and tower-houses built in the Middle Ages).

Reach the Due Torri (Two Towers) and be prepared to face the 498 steps if you have the courage and strength since you will have to carry the little ones (entrance is for free under one metre in height). If you don't feel like it, it may be good to know that you will enjoy a charming view of the city even from the lower tower of San Pietro (visits on Saturdays and Sundays from 2 to 4:30 pm).

Continue up to piazza Nettuno (Neptune square), where you find the homonymous fountain and to your left the palazzo Re Enzo, a palace which took its name from the king who was captured by the Bolognese following the battle of Fossalta in 1249; although treated like a king, he was imprisoned in the palace - his "golden prison" - until his death.

However, he was still luckier than those who were hanged at the gallows that are still visible in the ceiling under the Voltone del Podestà (Vault of the Mayor). Play at the wireless telephone beneath the arches: position yourself at opposite corners of the vault and whisper some words, you will hear something magical...

Go up to the first floor of Palazzo Accursio, the official seat of the municipality, to enjoy a beautiful view of the square.

You can make a stop at the nearby Sala Borsa (entrance near the Neptune fountain).

It is an important meeting spot for all the children and young people of the city. Children will like the glass floor through which the archaeological excavations can be seen. This is the ancient Bononia hole. The Sala borsa organizes guided tours of the excavations. You will find a baby room with a breastfeeding chair, feeding bottle warmer, a fairly large space with soft cushions and lots of books to entertain your children; also available is a bathroom for children only equipped with a baby-changing table (the keys are in the baby room). In the children's library, other than books and comfortable chairs, you will also find two ipads and several pcs with games, stories and activities for children.

Leaving the Sala Borsa you can visit the Museo Civico Medievale (Medieval City Museum) where children can have fun looking at the weapons and armour of the knights. Interesting is the three-dimensional model depicting the city in the Middle Ages: try to count the towers and you will discover why Bologna was also called "the Turrita".

If the children want to play go through via Galliera and via Riva di Reno up to the park XI settembre, where they can also ride on the carousel.

In the evening, here's what we recommend:

  • continuing along via Montegrappa you will arrive in via Belvedere where the entire area surrounding the historical Mercato delle Erbe (Herb Market) has been refurbished. Stop for a drink at the bar Senza nome or for a meal in the inner square of the market at Altro?
  • Alternatively, going down via Galliera, turning to your left in via Nazario Sauro, you find the new bar L’altro spazio equipped with an area for children, where you can have a drink or a dinner
  • if you fancy crescentine (raised dough of the Emilia-Romagna region), cross via Indipendenza and, once arrived in via Altabella, go to Pane, Vino San Daniele

Day Two
Start with breakfast at the cafeteria I Dolci di Nonna Vincenza where children will find a table and crayons with which they can entertain themselves. Continue along Strada Maggiore up to Corte Isolani, you cannot go wrong for its very high wooden porch: look at the top for the knight's arrow.

Always in Strada Maggiore, at No. 11, you will find a furniture store: ask the owners to show you a piece of the ancient via Emilia, also look for the well of the Middle Ages, the foundations of a tower and the fragments of a mosaic. Have a good hunt!

Go back and through the passage of Corte Isolani (note: if you are with a stroller, we suggest you take via Gerusalemme a street a little further down), you will come out at piazza Santo Stefano (Santo Stefano square). At this point you cannot miss a visit to the beautiful complex of the Basilica di Santo Stefano (Santo Stefano cathedral; also known as the "Seven Churches"): the children will be entertained by entering the different environments; in fact, they will have the impression of being more in a maze with churches and courtyards than in a cathedral. Search for the sculptures of many animals (a cockerel, a lion, a deer, a peacock), of the three lazy soldiers and of the Three Wise Men made of coloured wood. A pair of scissors is also to be found...

Head towards via Castiglione to Palazzo Pepoli, seat of the Museum of the History of Bologna.

Symbolically tie your horse to the large rings located on the façade of the building (the one near the door used to be adopted instead for the flags) and enter the museum, which has only recently been opened. The children will like the movie with the Etruscan character Apa, who tells the story of the city as well as the visual and acoustic space of the city of the water. The museum is of good quality, the teaching style involving for the whole family.
The strollers must be left in the cloakroom and, at the time, baby carriers are not supplied.

For lunch we suggest to continue along via Castiglione and to stop in via Rialto at Fram Café.

After lunch, resume via Castiglione as far as the gateway.  You will find yourself in front of the largest park of the city, the Giardini Margherita (Margherita Gardens). For children this park has plenty of playgrounds, pay rides (inflatables and jumping equipment during the summer months), mini go-karts, a circuit with a small train, a carousel. There is also a basketball court and a beautiful pond with turtles, fish and ducks.

In the park during the summer, as well as finding ice cream, you can take a drink or eat at the Serre: a welcoming space created in what used to be the old greenhouses of the gardens. Before entering, do not miss the reconstruction of the capanna Villanoviana (Villanovan hut). If you feel cold instead you can find shelter at the bar Micky e Max where you can continue to play.

To go back to the city centre go towards porta Santo Stefano (Santo Stefano gateway): you can choose to continue walking or to hop on the bus No. 13, 16 or 96.

For dinner we advise you to stop near piazza Santo Stefano (Santo Stefano square) at Bolpetta.

Finestrella di Via Piella

Finestrella di Via Piella

This corner of the city is known as "little Venice". Looking out among the buildings, you can see one of the few stretches of running water, which was not covered with asphalt between the beginning of the twentieth century and the postwar period.

Museo di Paleontologia e Geologia "G.Capellini"

Museo di Paleontologia e Geologia "G.Capellini"

It is the largest Paleontological Museum in Italy both for its surface area and for the number and importance of its collections (a recent estimate rates it as having about one million pieces).

Museo di Zoologia

Museo di Zoologia

This is one of the most important zoological museums in Italy thanks to its large size and number of collections preserved and on display.

The former Jewish ghetto

The former Jewish ghetto

The layout of Bologna's 16th century ghetto can still be precisely traced amid the narrow streets in the medieval heart of the city under the Two Towers.

Le due Torri: Garisenda e degli Asinelli

Le due Torri: Garisenda e degli Asinelli

The two towers Garisenda and Asinelli are the traditional symbol of Bologna, strategically standing where the old Aemilian way entered the town. In the late 12th century, at least one hundred towers dotted the town's skyline, but today only twenty have survived the ravages of fire, warfare and lightning.

Piazza Nettuno

Piazza Nettuno

Piazza del Nettuno was given this name because it was built to give prominence to Statua del Nettuno, the statue that may be seen at its centre.

Palazzo del Podestà

Palazzo del Podestà

This was the first seat of the town government, represented by the Podestà and his judges and officers.

Palazzo d'Accursio o Comunale

Palazzo d'Accursio o Comunale

The Town Hall consists of a set of buildings, that over the centuries have gradually been joined to the oldest acquired by the city at the end of the thirteenth century. Including among other things, Accursio’s home, teacher of law, at the University of Bologna. It was originally intended to keep the public reserve, "some grain-growing and municipal offices”. In 1336 it became the residence of the Elders, the highest judiciary of the City Government and is the seat of city government.

Salaborsa

Salaborsa

Biblioteca Salaborsa is the central public library funded by the municipality of Bologna. It opened in 2001 and provides a rich and fascinating cultural space inside Palazzo d'Accursio, the ancient and historical seat of the city government.

Archaeological excavations in Salaborsa

Archaeological excavations in Salaborsa

In the library Salaborsa, under the crystal floor of the covered square, a suspended platform guides the visitor along a fascinating and stimulating stroll through history.

Museo Civico Medievale

Museo Civico Medievale

The Medieval Museum in Bologna enlightens visitors about the history of the city, often turbulent. The fascinating collection of bronze statues, armours, handmade products, illuminated manuscripts and monumental tombs is located inside Palazzo Ghisilardi-Fava, nicely painted.

Palazzo Isolani

Palazzo Isolani

Overlooking Santo Stefano Square (also known as the Sqaure of the Seven Churches), Palazzo Isolani offers since centuries its porches to one of the most beautiful walks around Bologna.

Complesso di Santo Stefano

Complesso di Santo Stefano

Also known as the "Seven churches", the Basilica of St. Stefano is the most peculiar church complex in Bologna.
Its origins are still a moot point. For someone it was built in 430 when the bishop Petronio decided to raise a building to be divided into seven churches, which were supposed to symbolically represent the places of Christ’s Passion, as testified by its ancient name “Sacra Hierusalem”.
Another theory states that the Basilica was built by Saint Petronio, but on the ruins of a pre-existent pagan temple.

Giardini Margherita

Giardini Margherita

It is the largest and certainly the most popular city park. It was designed by the Piedmontese Sambuy  to provide Bologna with an ample green and public place as in other Italian and European cities. It was opened in 1879 with the name of “Passeggio Regina Margherita” ( as a tribute to the wife of King Umberto I).