Three hours in the heart of our city

Your journey of discovery around Bologna starts at the Fountain of Neptune, one of the symbols of our city and the work of the Flemish sculptor know as Giambologna. Before visiting the splendid setting of Piazza Maggiore, take a step back into the history of ancient Bononia and enter Sala Borsa. In the 19th century, this was the city’s economic centre and today it is a place of culture. With its rich, multi-media library, it has become one of the favourite meeting places for the people of Bologna. At the centre of the building is a covered square, where you will meet the first unexpected side of Bologna. Below your feet, a glass floor will offer you a view of the original city. Here, you will be able to sip a coffee spanning two thousand years, while admiring the art nouveau ceilings and seeing close up the archaeological remains on which our city stands today.


After observing the beginning of Bologna’s history, you are now ready to continue your journey, entering Piazza Maggiore, known simply as the “piazza” by the locals. Let yourself be seduced by the wide spaces, the great area surrounded by some of the buildings that can tell the story of the city: Palazzo D'Accursio (headquarter of Bologna Town Hall) that houses the City Art Collection and the Basilica of San Petronio, housing the largest sundial in the world. Before leaving Piazza Maggiore, play a little game. Below the open arcade of the so-called Voltone del Podestà, between Palazzo di Podestà and Palazzo Re Enzo, there is a kind of whispering gallery. If you whisper, facing one of the four corners of the arch, you will be heard by anyone who is at the opposite corner.

 

From the piazza, walk along Via dell’Archiginnasio, with its beautiful Portico del Pavaglione and some of the most desirable shops in Bologna. Following the road that runs alongside the Basilica San Petronio, you will reach the Museo Civico Archeologico (Archaeological Museum) and here, if you are so inclined, you can find out more about Etruscan and Roman Bologna through the archaeological exhibits. You can also visit the museum’s superb Egyptian collection. Next you will see Palazzo dell’Archiginnasio, the first unified seat of the University of Bologna, the oldest university in the western hemisphere, founded in 1088. The Teatro Anatomico (Anatomical Theatre), where anatomy lessons were once held, is well-worth visiting. Nearby is the Basilica of San Domenico, a true treasure chest of Italian art. You can admire the marble shrine with the remains of this saint, decorated with precious statues by Nicolò Pisano, Nicolò dell'Arca and the young Michelangelo.

 

After discovering Bologna “The Learned”, spend time exploring Bologna “The Fat”, the Bologna of good food and excellent cooking. Go back on yourself, behind Piazza Maggiore, and enjoy wondering through the narrow streets of the old city market, the Quadrilatero. During the day, you will come across many stalls filled with all kinds of food products, from seasonal fruit to fresh fish from the nearby Adriatic Sea, from tortellini and that speciality of Bologna, mortadella, to various sweets. In the evening, just before dinner, these streets are transformed and shops give way to bars and drinking places, where people of Bologna can enjoy an aperitif at the end of the day.

 

After this refreshing interval, cross Via Castiglione and be astonished by the wonderful Piazza Santo Stefano. Your eyes will alight on the church at other side of the square. If you have time, you will discover that is it not one church but seven. This is not all illusion, but the consequence of the historical events that took place in this corner of the city. From Piazza Santo Stefano, go along the covered passageway of Corte Isolani and soon you will be in Strada Maggiore. From this point, at last you can see the Asinelli and the Garisenda Towers, side by side at the centre of a circle from where all our city’s main streets radiate. Continue along Strada Maggiore to the Two Towers, the tallest of the twenty still standing in this city of towers, which in mediaeval time boasted over one hundred turrets. If you find this hard to believe, climb the 498 steps up to the top of the Asinelli Tower and look out over the city. You will discover that, even today, there are many more towers than you had imagined.


From the Two Towers, walk along Via Zamboni, the main university street, with its various departments, the historical Teatro Comunale (City Theatre) and the famous university museums.

From Via Zamboni, going towards Via Indipendenza, you will discover another unexpected side of Bologna, the underground waterways that were open canals until two centuries ago. Under the arcade of Via Piella, your glance takes in a brief impression of Venice: water lapping against the buildings’ foundations. To get back to Piazza Maggiore, walk along Via Indipendenza, the main shopping street. If you do have time for a bit more culture, a tiny detour will allow you to visit one of the most delightful museums in the city, the Museo Medievale.

Starting: Fontana del Nettuno

Starting: Fontana del Nettuno

Your journey of discovery around Bologna starts at the Fountain of Neptune, one of the symbols of our city and the work of the Flemish sculptor know as Giambologna.

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Salaborsa

Salaborsa

Before visiting the splendid setting of Piazza Maggiore, take a step back into the history of ancient Bononia and enter Sala Borsa. In the 19th century, this was the city’s economic centre and today it is a place of culture. With its rich, multi-media library, it has become one of the favourite meeting places for the people of Bologna.

View Map more info Add to MyGuide
Piazza Maggiore

Piazza Maggiore

Entering Piazza Maggiore, known simply as the “piazza” by the locals. Let yourself be seduced by the wide spaces, the great area surrounded by some of the buildings that can tell its story, Palazzo D'Accursio, the city’s Town Hall and home to the Morandi Museum and the City Art Collection and the Basilica of San Petronio.

View Map more info Add to MyGuide
Voltone del Podestà

Voltone del Podestà

Before leaving Piazza Maggiore, play a little game. Below the open arcade of the so-called Voltone del Podestà, between Palazzo di Podestà and Palazzo Re Enzo, there is a kind of whispering gallery. If you whisper, facing one of the four corners of the arch, you will be heard by anyone who is at the opposite corner.

View Map more info Add to MyGuide
 Museo Civico Archeologico

Museo Civico Archeologico

From the piazza, walk along Via dell’Archiginnasio, with its beautiful Portico del Pavaglione and some of the most desirable shops in Bologna. Following the road that runs alongside the Basilica San Petronio, you will reach the Museo Civico Archeologico (Archaeological Museum) and here, if you are so inclined, you can find out more about Etruscan and Roman Bologna through the archaeological exhibits.

View Map more info Add to MyGuide
Palazzo dell'Archiginnasio

Palazzo dell'Archiginnasio

Next you will see Palazzo dell’Archiginnasio, the first unified seat of the University of Bologna, the oldest university in the western hemisphere, founded in 1088. The Teatro Anatomico (Anatomical Theatre), where anatomy lessons were once held, is well-worth visiting.

View Map more info Add to MyGuide
San Domenico

San Domenico

Nearby is the Basilica of San Domenico, a true treasure chest of Italian art. You can admire the marble shrine with the remains of this saint, decorated with precious statues by Nicolò Pisano, Nicolò dell'Arca and the young Michelangelo.

View Map more info Add to MyGuide
Mercato di Mezzo

Mercato di Mezzo

After discovering Bologna “The Learned”, spend time exploring Bologna “The Fat”, the Bologna of good food and excellent cooking. Go back on yourself, behind Piazza Maggiore, and enjoy wondering through the narrow streets of the old city market, the Quadrilatero. During the day, you will come across many stalls filled with all kinds of food products, from seasonal fruit to fresh fish from the nearby Adriatic Sea, from tortellini and that speciality of Bologna, mortadella, to various sweets.

View Map more info Add to MyGuide
Piazza Santo Stefano

Piazza Santo Stefano

After this refreshing interval, cross Via Castiglione and be astonished by the wonderful Piazza Santo Stefano. Your eyes will alight on the church at other side of the square.

View Map more info Add to MyGuide
Complesso di Santo Stefano

Complesso di Santo Stefano

If you have time, you will discover that is it not one church but seven.

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Two Towers.: Garisenda and Asinelli

Two Towers.: Garisenda and Asinelli

From Piazza Santo Stefano, go along the covered passageway of Corte Isolani and soon you will be in Strada Maggiore. From this point, at last you can see the Two Towers.

View Map more info Add to MyGuide
Via Zamboni

Via Zamboni

From the Two Towers, walk along Via Zamboni, the main university street, with its various departments, the historical Teatro Comunale (City Theatre) and the famous university museums.

View Map more info Add to MyGuide
Via Indipendenza

Via Indipendenza

From Via Zamboni, going towards Via Indipendenza, you will discover another unexpected side of Bologna, the underground waterways that were open canals until two centuries ago.

View Map more info Add to MyGuide
Finestrella di Via Piella

Finestrella di Via Piella

Under the arcade of Via Piella, your glance takes in a brief impression of Venice: water lapping against the buildings’ foundations.

View Map more info Add to MyGuide
Museo Civico Medievale

Museo Civico Medievale

To get back to Piazza Maggiore, walk along Via Indipendenza, the main shopping street. If you do have time for a bit more culture, a tiny detour will allow you to visit one of the most delightful museums in the city, the Museo Medievale.

View Map more info Add to MyGuide
Arrival: Piazza Maggiore

Arrival: Piazza Maggiore

You have spent three hours in the heart of the city!

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