Bologna Holidays

A feast of an Italian city

Bologna might be the home of Italy’s most traditional pasta dish – its much-loved 'tagliatelle al ragu Bolognese’ – but it has a distinctly progressive vibe. This north Italian city, which sits in the heart of prolifically foodie region of Emilia-Romagna, teems with students from the Universita di Bologna, Europe’s oldest university. Traversing the city on Bologna city breaks is easy in all weathers, as 40 kilometres of porticos cover pedestrians. Architecture ranges from the medieval, through Gothic and Renaissance.

Churches and basilicas are operatic in their beauty – even the unfinished Basilica of San Petronio. Piazza Maggiore, Bologna’s central square, was the city’s original ‘platea communis’ or gathering spot, and people still flock here to bask in the sunshine. It would be remiss to talk about city breaks to Bologna without mentioning the food. Here you’re spoilt for choice when it comes to dining options, with everything from traditional trattorias to stylish modern restaurants.

The list of foods you must try is a long one. Absolutely unmissable are polpette dumplings, locally-produced Balsamico di Modena vinegar, Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, and Prosciutto di Parma and Mortadella hams – ask for the highly inauthentic spag bol at your peril. The tipple of choice here is sparkling red Lambrusco, and if you reach dessert with any room to spare, ice cream and pastries feature heavily. Whether you want to eat your way around the city or feast on its impressive architecture, Bologna is sure to leave you hungry for more.

All resorts in Bologna

Three tips for a top trip

Walk everywhere
The city is perfect for walking. Much of Bologna’s centre is pedestrianised, and its covered porticos mean you can explore in the hottest sun – or the wettest rain.
Find the canals
Bologna once had kilometres of canals, mostly now replaced with roads. But head to Via Piella in Little Venice and a famous window reveals the glittering Canale delle Moline.
Join in aperitivo
From around 6-8pm, bars in Bologna serve aperitifs like Campari and Aperol, alongside a buffet of snacks, such as cheese, cured meats and mini-pizza.

Best attractions to see in Bologna

Madonna di San Luca

A 3.8-kilometre uphill walk, along a portico of 666 arches, leads to the hilltop Sanctuary of the Madonna di San Luca, an impressive basilica church.

Le Due Torri

Bolognese noble families once had a tradition of competing to build the tallest tower. These days you can climb two of the last ones standing.

Mind-bending MAMbo

Spend a few hours at MAMbo – the Bologna Modern Art Museum. An ever-changing roster of experimental art, including performances, film and multimedia, is on show.

Your Bologna questions, answered

Restaurants in Bologna will rarely disappoint, but if you have your eyes on a particular venue, do try to book ahead, even for lunchtime sittings.

Yes – your best bet is to pop on your dancing shoes then head to the west of the city where most of the late-night clubs can be found.

Bologna has plenty to keep you entertained for a weekend, but a longer trip will allow you to head out to its surrounding vineyards and farms – and eat more, of course.