bolonnha1Piazza di Neptuno

Bologna is the capital and biggest city of Emilia-Romagna’s region, located in the North of Italy. It’s a joyful University City and cosmopolitan, with centuries of history, art, amazing gastronomy, music and culture.

Tagliatelle al ragù at La Montanara

Bologna doesn’t always capture the interest of people, and even I confess, in the several visits I did to Italy, it wasn’t the place that I most wanted to visit. However, I was dead wrong! It’s a wonderful city, full of art, culture, gaiety and with the best pasta bolognese ever, or more accurately, tagliatelle al ragu (the best we tasted was for sure at La Montanara)! Yes, the gastronomy is, for sure, the greatest highlight of the city, good and cheap!

bolonha2The view from the top of the Asinelli Tower

The origins of Bologna date back to the Etruscan in 510 B.C., and later it was transformed into a Roman colony. With the fall of the Roman Empire, it became a part of the Byzantine Empire. In 1506 it was part of the Papal States; between 1796 and 1815 it was occupied by Napoleon Bonaparte and until 1859 it belonged once again to the Papal States. During the World War II it was intensely bombed and with the end of the conflict it became the Italian center of socialism and communism.

This wonderful city is known as “La grassa, La dotta, La rossa” (The Learned One, the Fat One, and the Red One).

Bolonha - _21Bologna is the place where the first university in the western world was created, and still functions nowadays (therefore the designation of La dotta), reason why it’s a city with so much culture and so lively, because it’s always full of young people. This college was founded in 1088 and had teachers like Dante and Petrarch.

Here you can visit the Archiginnasio, formerly the most important building of the university, built in the XVI century. Nowadays, and since 1838, it has a huge municipal library; one of the most interesting places is the Anatomical Theatre of the Archiginnasio, entirely made of wood and decorated with sculptures, it dates back from 1636.

The entire city is red (therefore the designation La Rossa), due to its buildings in the same tone, along the city we can walk its avenues and glimpse all the porticoes, which facilitates quite a lot if it’s raining or too hot! Bologna has the second biggest preserved historical center in Europe.

Bolonha - _16The city is typically medieval and the main attractions surround the historical area, namely around the Piazza Maggiori.

This square was created in the XV century and here we can enjoy places of pure history and that’ll make us travel through time. Fontana del Nettuno, symbol of Bologna, was built in 1566.

Bolonha - _9Besides this mythical fountain, we also have beautiful palaces that surround the plaza.

Palazzo d’Accursio, city hall, contains works of art and history and has free entrance.

Bolonha - _11San Petronio’s Basilica

Here is also located the most important church in Bologna, the San Petronio’s Basilica (free entrance). It is the fifteenth largest Catholic Church in the world, built in 1390 in a gothic style. The construction went on for centuries, and it was supposed to be bigger than St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome, but the funds were diverted to the Pallazo Archiginnasio and the facade wasn’t even ever finished. Inside we can find several works of art, from authors like Jacopo della Quercia, Lorenzo Costa, Agostino de’ Marchi, Giovanni da Modena and Vignola.

Bolonha - _12San Petronio’s Basilica

In this plaza is also located the Voltone del Podestà, a gallery between Palazzo di Podestà and Palazzo Re Enzo, with two crossing arches and perfect acoustics, if we whisper on the corner of one of the walls, the person on the opposite side can hear us.

Bolonha - _30Piazza di Neptuno

The Palazzo Re Enzo was built in 1245 as an extension of Palazzo del Podestà, insufficient for the requirements of Bologna’s commune. To the right of the Palace there’s the access to the Cappella di Santa Maria dei Carcerati, where those condemned to death went.

Another location with historical interest and that offers the greatest splendor in the entire city, due to its breathtaking view, are the Bologna Towers, which can be seen from the square. Asinelli and Garisenda are some that subsist from the medieval period in a total of more than 100.
Asinelli is the tallest with around 97 m, built in 1119, with 498 steps, of the steep and antique type, I almost panicked while climbing up, but after being up there, it was so worthy, the view is astonishing!

Bolonha - _27San Petronio’s statue between the two towers 

Garisenda is only 47 m tall and presents some inclination; it is from the same time as the previous tower, but the soil where it was built inclined over the years, and in the XIV century had to be decreased in order not to fall.

One of the places that captivated my interest was St. Stefano’s Abbey, one of the oldest and more valuable architectural examples in the city, representing a combination of four churches in a total of seven, within a single one.

abadia bolonha1St. Stefano’s Abbey

Besides these main interest spots I had the chance to visit, Bologna has many others, like San Luca’s Sanctuary on top of a mountain, away from the center. The city has also many museums, the Archeological Civic Museum with Egyptian, Greek, Roman and Etruscan pieces and relishes; the Medieval Museum with pieces from that period and the Museum of the History of Bologna.

Bolonha - _25Even if you don’t get to visit many places, don’t worry, Bologna is an open sky museum itself! You can simply walk around the historical area and absorb the city’s energy, full of gaiety, streets filled with bars, cafes, restaurants and markets.

You can buy amazing produce in the markets, from fruits to cheeses, sausages and the best traditional products of Italy. Don’t miss the Mercato di Mezzo, next to the Piazza del Neptuno, with origin in the ancient Roman markets. Enjoy some appetizers in the different bars during the Happy Hour (quite accessible prices) between 6 pm and 9 pm (usually), enjoy the typical drink, Spritz, and at night you can enjoy the energy of the streets filled with college students. Bologna is a city full of life and always young.

bolonhamezzo1Mercato di Mezzo

Bologna is the perfect place for a gastronomical travel! The best ice creams I ever ate were in Bologna (Gelateria Saverio), excellent pasta dishes and very recommendable prices! You don’t need a big visit time in Bologna, just a few days and then you can catch the train and see some other cities, next to Bologna, in Emilia-Romagna, or cities a bit farther away, like Florence, for example.

  Bolonha - _3       Bolonha - _2       Bolonha - _6

Or else, you can just do a “gastronomical retreat, you won’t regret it!

But, decidedly, don’t miss this city!

Versão Portuguesa

Text: Cíntia Oliveira | Photos: Flavors & Senses

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