Bologna – what you can visit in just one day

Bologna is a city rich in culture and history. It has a vibrant food scene and its architecture is stunning. What you can visit in just one day….

At the end of August we decided to take another mini-vacation: destination Rimini-San Marino. After three days spent on the beach at RivaAzzura (Rimini) and admiring the sunsets from the fortress towers of the Republic of San Marino we decided, on our way back to Milan, to make a stop in Bologna.

Bologna is a city I’ve had on my list of places to visit in Italy for a long time. And lo and behold, at the end of August 2018, I manage to get to the Bologna I want to tell you about.

Europe’s oldest university

Bologna is one of the Italian cities that I dreamed of visiting since my student days. A city known internationally because of its history and culture, but especially because it is home to the oldest university in Europe, the University of Bologna.

The University of Bologna, also called UNIBO, was founded in 1088 as an academy, which in 1219 became a university, the most important source of knowledge throughout the centuries. Today the University of Bologna has about 86,000 students.

About Bologna Italy

Bologna, located in northern Italy, about 210 km from Milan, is the capital of the Emilia Romagna region. Being a city-city, Bologna has preserved its medieval appearance with a special charm through its churches, palaces and squares. Bologna has an artistic charge not to be described, practically, it is the city most loved by many Italian artists.

Bologna – what you can visit in just one day

We arrived in Bologna around midnight, and checked into a hotel near the Central Station. The next morning, in order to organize what to do and what to visit, we found a guide on a website that gave us the most important touristic landmarks in Bologna and so we started our walk.


1. Little Venice

Follow Via Piella and follow the side streets Via Oberdan and Via Marsala to reach the Govese Gate. And once you have passed Porta Govese look carefully under the gallery.

At one point you will see a small square window on a wall, and when you open it you will be confronted with a parallel world, a small Venice, a river underneath the neighbouring buildings nearby.

It’s a wonderful place, a pearl of Bologna and you’ve already figured it out, because it’s very similar to Venice it’s called “the little Venice of Bologna”.

2. Stock exchange room

Sala Borsa is a public cultural centre, opened in 2011, which collects books to satisfy the tastes of every reader, then there are collections of films, DVDs, records of all kinds. It is a resource that constantly feeds the students of the University of Bologna, as well as a temporary exhibition site. It’s a gorgeous building worth visiting because of its history and architecture.

As soon as you step inside you will be overwhelmed by the beauty and immensity of this place. For example, on the ground floor the glass floor allows you to observe underground excavations as well as archaeological finds of ancient civilisations dating back to the Villanovan civilisation, built in the 7th century BC.

3. Neptune’s Fountain

Nicknamed Fontana del Nettuno or “IL GIGANTE”, one of the most important symbols of Bologna. This statue was built between 1563-1566 and is a masterpiece by the sculptor Giambologna.

The other figures at the feet of Neptune, which make up this fountain, are also to be admired, making it one of the most beautiful and elegant works of art. Neptune’s fountain is one of the most photographed places by tourists arriving in Bologna.

4. Piazza Maggiore

Piazza Maggiore is the heart of Bologna. Located in the city centre, this square has a rich history and is home to many historic buildings, palaces, churches and pubs.

Also here, in front of you you can see the Basilica of San Petronino, the saint and patron saint of the city, and in front of the Basilica is the Podesta Palace, built in 1200.

5.Podesta Palace

Underneath the Palazzo del Podestà lies another of Bologna’s secrets. Walking under the vault of the Palace of Podesta you will see that there is an intersection of two streets…If you approach one of the four “foot-walls” and whisper someone else on the other corner can hear what you have said. This is an acoustic effect whereby two speakers on opposite corners can speak softly and hear each other perfectly.

6.Asinelli Tower and Garisenda Tower

According to history, in Bologna it was a tradition to build towers on top of houses, especially for wealthy families. The higher they built a tower, the more the prestige of the family increased. At one time there were about 180 towers in Bologna, but today only 23 remain,

The best known are the Asinelli Tower and the Garisenda Tower

The Asinelli Tower was built in 1159 and is 97 metres high. It is the most iconic monument in Bologna for its beautiful appearance and medieval architectural style.

7.Coop Ambassadors Bookshop: EATALY

And while we’re in a college town, why not eat in a bookstore? Here in Bologna it is possible. In Libreria Coop Ambasciatori you can relax, enjoy the intellectual atmosphere and eat something from Eataly and taste the local gastronomy.

It can be a special experience perfectly framed with the atmosphere of the city. It’s not every day we get to dine in the middle of a bookstore…right?

The streets of Bologna…

This was our walk through Bologna…

After reaching the two towers, we slowly made our way to the parking lot where we left the car to return to Milan.

What we managed to see in Bologna in one day is certainly very little, but this little was enough to lure us to come back again.



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