What to do and see in Bologna, Emilia-Romagna: The Best Historic Sites

August 23, 2021 Hana Mouser

While crowds of tourists fill Venice, Florence and Rome, Bologna remains relatively quiet in comparison. This medieval university town is charming, historic and fun to explore… and you'll find Bologna's local cuisine is light-years away from the American deli meat bearing the city's name.
Restaurants in Bologna

1. Palazzo Magnani

Via Anteo Zamboni 20 Sede UNICREDIT Spa, 40126 Bologna Italy http://palazzi.abi.it/palazzi/Emilia_Romagna/Bologna/23-Palazzo_Magnani.html
Excellent
88%
Good
13%
Satisfactory
0%
Poor
0%
Terrible
0%
Overall Ratings

5.0 based on 8 reviews

Palazzo Magnani

2. Villa Guastavillani

Via Degli Scalini 18, 40136 Bologna Italy
Excellent
75%
Good
25%
Satisfactory
0%
Poor
0%
Terrible
0%
Overall Ratings

5.0 based on 4 reviews

Villa Guastavillani

3. Basilica di San Domenico

Piazza San Domenico 13, 40124 Bologna Italy +39 051 640 0411 http://www.conventosandomenico.org/convento_san_domenico/tesori_artistici/00000043_La_basilica.html
Excellent
62%
Good
32%
Satisfactory
5%
Poor
0%
Terrible
1%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 873 reviews

Basilica di San Domenico

Reviewed By Jo_and_Tom - Anna, United States

This church is very close to Hotel Touring. Looking at it you wouldn't think much of it until you get inside and have a guide who tells the story of the Church. The Tomb of Saint Dominic (Dominican founder) is located here. One of his relics is his skull entombed in a gold reliquary which is at the back of the altar. Michaelangelo was several years in Bologna as a student. One of his contribution to the tomb was a small "Clothed David" and his student also contributed a statue to same tomb. Outside were some unusual tombs which are elevated versus on the ground. They are two of the Bologna University founders - Doctors of Law. The one interesting point our guide explained that Beethoven played in this church when his father was Music Master. Beethoven in order to play had to pass a test and couldn't because he didn't know music theory on how to compose, even though he was composing at that age. Finally the choir master stated this boy was a genius and his compositions were far superior than other organ players so he was allowed to play.

4. Basilica di San Petronio

Corte De' Galluzzi 12/2, 40124 Bologna Italy +39 051 231415 [email protected] http://www.basilicadisanpetronio.org
Excellent
53%
Good
35%
Satisfactory
9%
Poor
2%
Terrible
1%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 4,125 reviews

Basilica di San Petronio

Reviewed By adaniels83 - Leeds, United Kingdom

This is a beautiful elegant and rather large church, entry is free, if you would like to take photos inside then there is a €2 charge with the proceeds going towards restoration of the many elements of the church. I read many times about people not being allowed in wearing shorts... that is a lie there were plenty of people wearing shorts and with legs on show and there was not one bit of animosity towards them!! The workmanship of the church is quite stunning and in my opinion a must see, the torri degli Asinelli was closed for renovations on our trip so as an alternative way of obtaining Ariel views of the city go to the rear of the church where for €3 you can get to the top and a viewing platform where the views are great.

5. Basilica San Francesco

Piazza San Francesco 14, 40122 Bologna Italy +39 051 221762 http://www.sanfrancescobologna.org
Excellent
49%
Good
42%
Satisfactory
8%
Poor
1%
Terrible
0%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 346 reviews

Basilica San Francesco

6. Piazza Maggiore

Piazza Maggiore, 40121 Bologna Italy +39 051 6583111 [email protected] https://www.bolognawelcome.com/en/home/discover/places/architecture-and-monuments/historical-buildings-and-streets/piazza-maggiore/
Excellent
63%
Good
31%
Satisfactory
5%
Poor
1%
Terrible
0%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 9,773 reviews

Piazza Maggiore

Reviewed By nwaf247 - London, United Kingdom

The Centre of Bologna to meet or stroll or sit with drink or visit many of the historic sites surrounding The Piazza. Should be first stop when you arrive for first time.

7. Complesso Monumentale San Michele In Bosco

Piazzale San Michele in Bosco, Bologna Italy +39 051 636 6705 http://www.genusbononiae.it/index.php?pag=31
Excellent
68%
Good
26%
Satisfactory
5%
Poor
1%
Terrible
0%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 192 reviews

Complesso Monumentale San Michele In Bosco

Reviewed By Jackiepcs - Portsmouth, United Kingdom

We took the bus 30 from Ugo Bassi up to San Michele in Bosca for €1 50 and as well as an enjoyable journey throught the city of Bologna the view from the church is truly amazing. You can see over the whole beautiful city - the best value in Bologna! We could not get inside but contented ourselves with the breath taking view and then hopped on the bus back, this time to the central railway station - same bus. A not to be missed expedition and very cheap.

8. Portico del Pavaglione

Via dell'Archiginnasio, Bologna Italy
Excellent
48%
Good
35%
Satisfactory
15%
Poor
1%
Terrible
1%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 147 reviews

Portico del Pavaglione

Reviewed By asiyahnoemik - Pula, Croatia

Arriving in Bologna we were delighted with the beautiful architecture of the streets enriched with Portici ( Arcades ), which makes this city even more charming. The arcades of Bologna (Portici), almost 40 km long, make the city of Bologna unique in the world as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Since 1100, when the growth of the University has pushed to invent a new urban space, the arcades have become a place, at the same time public and private, of sociability and commerce, an open-air lounge that is a symbol of Bolognese hospitality. In 1288 with a Statute, the Municipality of Bologna established that all new houses must be built with a masonry portico and existing ones that lacked them were required to add it. Born and still remain as private property for public use, they are an identifying element of the Felsine capital, as well as a reference point for a sustainable urban lifestyle, in which religious spaces, civil buildings, commercial centers and all social classes are perfectly integrated. The arcades in Bologna offered and offer shelter from the weather and the sun, allowing you to walk the roads in any weather. Furthermore, they constituted and also constitute a means for the expansion of commercial and artisan activities. Among many Portici stands out for its beauty Portico del Pavaglione. Portico del Pavaglione, which extends from Via De 'Musei to Via Farini, flanking Via dell'Archiginnasio and Piazza Galvani. The domestic people love strolling under this elegant portico lined with high-end shops. It is 139 meters long and features 30 arches. Along the way, we will find the Archiginnasio, the first unified seat of Bologna's Studio (University), built in the mid-16th century. The portico owes its name to the Piazza del Pavaglione (now Piazza Galvani) where the silkworm market was held (a pavajon in the Bolognese dialect means Pavilion, there was a pavilion to shelter the cocoons when Bologna was the site of a thriving silk industry). At the end of Portico del Pavaglione is a historic cafè of Bologna, Caffè Zanarini.

9. Torre Prendiparte

Piazzetta Prendiparte 5, 40126 Bologna Italy +39 051 589023 [email protected] http://www.prendiparte.it/index.php?lang=en
Excellent
63%
Good
28%
Satisfactory
6%
Poor
2%
Terrible
1%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 452 reviews

Torre Prendiparte

Our purpose: to rediscover, preserve, and promote the cultural heritage of Emilia Romagna’s capital and much more. From its dialect and history, to its customs and culinary traditions. From its art and architecture, to its monuments, music, and more. All done through a specific local marketing strategy that includes events, guided tours, publications, research projects, and other local projects.

Reviewed By Briansky01 - Toronto, Canada

It absoultely takes your breath away! After a seemingly endless climb, you will get the best view on the city. We visited this site on a tour, and I must say it was one of the highlights for us!

10. Palazzo Re Enzo

Piazza Maggiore 1, 40124 Bologna Italy http://www.bolognawelcome.com/home/scopri/luoghi/architettura-e-monumenti/edifici-e-vie-storiche/palazzo-re-enzo
Excellent
49%
Good
37%
Satisfactory
11%
Poor
1%
Terrible
2%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 229 reviews

Palazzo Re Enzo

Reviewed By asiyahnoemik - Pula, Croatia

In the beautiful Piazza del Nettuno there is an interesting and beautiful palace, Palazzo Re Enzo. It takes its name from Enzo of Sardinia, Frederick II's son, who was prisoner here, from 1249 until his death in 1272. The palace was built between 1244-1246. as an extension of the nearby Palazzo del Podestà, which had proven insufficient for the exigencies of the Commune of Bologna. It was therefore initially known as the Palatium Novum ("New Palace"). The historical story is extremely interesting but at the same time very sad. Enzo was an illegitimate son of the Hohenstaufen emperor Frederick II, who appointed him 'King of Sardinia' in 1238. He played a major role in the wars between Guelphs and Ghibellines in the creation of Imperial kingdoms of Italy. Enzo was captured 1249 by the Guelphs at the Battle of Fossalta, and after a short stay in Anzola he was moved here, where he remained until his death. Enzo was allegedly left free within the palace by day, but by night he was kept into a cage hanging from the ceiling. He was also allowed to meet women, it is mentioned that he had three daughters, but a legend talks about a fourth son he had with a peasant woman, Lucia di Viadagola. Subsequent history is extremely important and interesting. The son was called Bentivoglio, from the words "Amore mio, ben ti voglio" that he said to his beloved (meaning "My love, I'm fond of you"), and he would be the ancestor of the Bentivoglio family, later rulers of Bologna. The interior of the Palace is beautiful. At the centre of the colonnaded courtyard, there is an ancient sandstone well, while on the right-hand side you will find the ancient Chapel of St. Mary of Prisoners, which was recently restored and decorated by British artist David Tremlett. On the first floor from the loggia, the Salone del Podestà is accessed through a covered passageway and a majestic solid wood door. The spacious Salone del Podestà, which was once a courtroom, was used as a Public Theatre between 1581 and 1767 (the second version of the Euridice was performed here in 1616) and later became a court for ball games. Beautiful Sala re Enzo is located on the second floor of the building and covers around 400 sqm.

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