Welcome is Bologna

Discover Bologna with Mum and Dad

MAP

A walk through children’s favourite museums and new corners, to be discovered. A city that knows how to involve also children, protagonists of events and initiatives like the world-famous Zecchino d’Oro music contest.

Drawing by Luca Bonora

The god Neptune – piazza Nettuno

The god Neptune – piazza Nettuno

The statue of Neptune, called “the Giant” due to its size, was set up in 1566 with the aim of embellishing piazza Maggiore, by the will of Cardinal Charles Borromeo. It was aimed at symbolising the happy period of Pope Pius IV, uncle of Borromeo, who had been just elected.  It was a lucky period and the trident that the god holds in his hand has become one of the most famous symbols in the world: the symbol of Maserati, the car manufacturer that was founded in Bologna.

Salaborsa library – Child’s section - piazza Nettuno

Salaborsa library – Child’s section - piazza Nettuno

This large library has a special area for babies and a section for children and adolescents, where young visitors can have a short break and spend some time reading a book or with games, films and music. Walking on the crystal floor of the covered square you can see the archaeological excavations with the remains of public and religious buildings dating back to the Roman Bononia. This covered space has been used over time for many different activities: first as a botanical garden, then as a Stock Market, then as a bank, and after the Second World War it has become a sports palace for the basketball team of the city, Virtus.

The “foursquare effect” - piazza Maggiore

The “foursquare effect” - piazza Maggiore

Under the arcade called Voltone del Podestà there is a kind of medieval telephone, thanks to a particular acoustic effect it is possible to talk to each other, even at a low voice, from the four opposite corners of the square-shaped vault. The Voltone is decorated with the terracotta statues of the patron saints of the city: Saint Petronius, Saint Proculus, Saint Dominic and Saint Francis. Above them lies the Arengo Tower, with its huge bell, called “campanone”, 4.700 kg of bronze, that called the people from Bologna in case of extraordinary events. The lower part of the palace is decorated with thousands of tiles, representing flowers, animals, strange characters with a human appearance, coats of arms… all different from each other.

The sundial - San Petronio, piazza Maggiore

The sundial - San Petronio, piazza Maggiore

The basilica on the square is dedicated to Saint Petronius, the patron saint of the city, who was the Bishop of Bologna in the 5th century. It is the sixth largest church in Europe, with its imposing size, and can hold about 28,000 people. The basilica was supposed to be the largest in the world, but the pope did not accept the fact that there could be a church bigger than Saint Peter’s Basilica in Rome, so he started the construction of the Archiginnasio on the church’s side, in this way stopping the construction of the church. This, however, was no hinder to the sundial located on the floor inside the church, one of the biggest sundials in the world, with a metallic line of 67.72 metres: the time is not shown by the shadow line cast by a rod on the quadrant, but by a cone of light coming from a hole in the ceiling, which can be seen only once a day.

Shells in town - via Archiginnasio

Shells in town - via Archiginnasio

In the red stone of the floor of the Pavaglione Portico there are many fossil shells, in particular big ammonites (extinct molluscs), with a round shape. In town you can walk for many kilometres under porticoes that had already been built in the Middle Ages when, in order to offer shelter for merchants and university students, all new houses were required to have a portico with a height of at least 7 Bologna feet (2.66 metres), high and wide enough as a man on a horse.

The little window over the canal – via Piella

The little window over the canal – via Piella

In the past Bologna was a water town: it had five harbours. Coming from Ferrara, that could be reached rowing on the Navile canal, you first arrived to the Po river and then to the sea. At number 2 of Via Piella visitors can enjoy a glimpse behind a little window that you can open and close, over the Moline canal, once used to produce the energy needed to operate 15 water mills of the city.

A climb up to the tower – piazza Ravegnana

A climb up to the tower – piazza Ravegnana

At the end of the 12th century in the city there were about one hundred towers and the construction of a tower required from 3 to 10 years of work. Today only about twenty of these imposing buildings have remained, and among them there is one that visitors can climb, the Asinelli tower, named after the family that had it built. To get to the top, at 97 metres in height, you climb up the internal staircase that consists of 498 steps. From the top you can enjoy a beautiful view of the whole city, and on clear days the view can reach to the Pre-Alps of the Veneto Region. The two towers, the symbol of Bologna, are both leaning into opposite directions due to land subsidence, the Garisenda tower is the most leaning tower of Italy (4 degrees), even more leaning than the Pisa Tower.

A big garden - Entrances: viale Gozzadini,  piazza di Porta Castiglione, via Santa Chiara.

A big garden - Entrances: viale Gozzadini, piazza di Porta Castiglione, via Santa Chiara.

Weather permitting, it is worth it to go to the park of the Margherita Gardens, at the edge of the town centre. In the park there is an artificial pond with fish and ducks and in the warmer time of the year visitors can take boat trips; at the centre of the park there is a chalet, a resting place for visitors. There are also fully-equipped playing areas for children, including a carousel, a beautiful recreation ground, immense lawns where children can run and a small area for treasure hunting: searching for the Villanovan hut, a reproduction made by the Archaeological Museum of the old huts built from straw, earth and wood, where the local inhabitants used to live 2,800 years ago.

A few museums:
Immagine Percorso

Archaeological Museum -  Via dell'Archiginnasio, 2 - www.museibologna.it/archeologico
Masterpieces of Greek and Roman art and the collection of Egyptian antiquities, one of the most im-portant ones in Europe.
Museum of the History of Bologna - Via Castiglione, 8 - www.genusbononiae.it
Small virtual 3D theatre for children showing a cartoon on the history of Bologna.
• G. Capellini Museum of Geology ¬- Via Zamboni, 63 - www.museocapellini.it
Here children can observe, analyse, “measure” and draw the skeleton of the Diplodocus dinosaur.
Museum of Zoology - Via Selmi, 3 - www.sma.unibo.it
Visitors are welcomed by a beautiful and huge “moonfish”, a real colossus of the sea that also lives in the Adriatic sea. In this particular museum of animals (which is one of the most important zoological museums in Italy for its size and for the collections exhibited and preserved) you can find amphibians, reptiles and many mammals.
Industrial Heritage Museum – Via Beverara, 123 - www.museibologna.it/patrimonioindustriale
Waterways and silk routes, science as engine of new discoveries, electricity and many curiosities to discover.
Toy Soldier Museum - Via Toscana, 19 - tel. +39 348 4949485      
A real collection created in the mid-seventies, for fans of the genre. Toy soldiers made of paper, lead and tin.

Further suggestions:
Immagine Percorso

Sightseeing train - cityredbus.com/san-luca-express
Train sightseeing service with audio guide in 7 languages.
Opificio Golinelli - www.fondazionegolinelli.it
Centre of knowledge and culture (activities in Italian).