This Northern Italian city has managed to stay slightly more under the tourist radar than others in the country, so it still retains a charming tranquillity. It is famed for its cuisine, its university -- which is the oldest in the Western world -- and for its skyline of soaring towers that remain from the medieval period. Iron Age settlers, Celts and Romans all had a hand in building Bologna, while its university has turned out great sons such as Johann Christian Bach and Marconi. Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo both spent time in the city. Each year it hosts gastronomic, cultural and automobile festivals and shows.
Things to Do
At the heart of Bologna is Piazza Maggiore with its fountains and stately buildings. Indulge in a cup of coffee and a spot of people-watching while you plan your itinerary. The Torre degli Asinelli e Garisendo provides a point of orientation from wherever you are and makes a good place to start your tour.
The heights of medievalism
The Torre degli Asinelli e Garisenda is the city's main landmark. Built by Bolognese aristocracy in the 12th-century, the Asinelli has 498 steps, but do make the effort to climb them for the remarkable view. Its slightly shorter neighbour is closed to the public as it has an alarming tilt.
1,500 years of church building
The Basilica Santuario Santo Stefano was founded by Bishop Petronius in the 5th century on the site of a temple to Isis. Today it is a complex of seven churches with architecture that spans the centuries.
Where shopping and nightlife meet
Pop into the Mercato delle Erbe to buy local delicacies for picnic lunches or artisan products as souvenirs. Return after sunset for its lively nightlife of restaurants and bars -- a result of a recent revitalisation of this centuries-old building.
Calendar of Events
Bologna's Film Festival brings the silent and sound films of olden days back to life, and the city is a well-known hub for electronic, rock and alternative music meaning there is always something going on to add a buzz to your visit. With Ducati, Lamborghini and Ferrari all on the doorstep along with their museums a not to be missed event is the Annual Motor Show.
Annual Motor Show. Held in December, this show has an important place in the world automobile calendar. As well as the latest car models, there is a strong focus on motorbikes as well as different competitive events.
Sotto le Stelle del Cinema (Under the Stars of the Cinema). Spread over 55 nights through July and August, this annual event brings together comedy classics with the best of present-day film titles while stars and directors make appearances. There are even free screenings in Piazza Maggiore.
Giardini al Cubo Summer Music Festival. Just five years old, this festival held in the Cubo Hanging Gardens grows in size and stature each year. Held in June, it's a mix of classical, folk and jazz music along with theatrical productions.