I have visited Bologna a couple of times; as day trips from Ferrara; in 2016 and 2017. There are daily trains from Ferrara to Bologna every day. The journey takes around half an hour.
Bologna is called "la dotta", "la grassa" and "la rossa". "La dotta" (i. e. educated) beacuse of its old university. It was one of the first university settled in the occidental world. "La grassa" (i. e. fat) is a nickname due to the good food you can have in Bologna. "La rossa" (i. e. the red) is an adjective Bologna got for the reddish colour of most of its buildings.
Bologna has a network of around 38 kilometers of covered walkways. The first porticoes date from the late Middle ages, but probably they already existed in 1041.
The porticoes were made due to the population growth; possibly because of the university students who came to the city. The upper storeys of the buildings were enlarged and consequently the porticoes downstairs were made.
In Bologna you can even find some very old porticoes made of bricks or wood.
Piazza Maggiore is Bologna main square. It is surrounded by several palaces.
One of them is Palazzo d' Accursio. It was built by several buildings joined together through the centuries. This is the city' s town hall. Another palace is the Palazzo del Podestà . This was built around 1200. Opposite you see the basilica of San Petronio. Next to this church stands the Palazzo dei Banchi. Here bankers and money changers worked.
Piazza Maggiore is connected to another square; piazza del Nettuno.
Palazzo d' Accursio, or Palazzo Comunale is a 15,000 square meters complex made of three palaces. The oldest dates to the 12th century. This was originally he house of the jurist Accursio. Later it became the seat of the Anziani (elders); the higher magistrates of the city.
Inside this palace you can visit several rooms. On the first floor you can see Sala d' Ercole. This is the oldest part of the building. It houses a huge statue of Hercules. Sala del Consiglio Comunale which was frescoed in 1676. It is used for the town hall meetings. Sala Rossa (red room) is so called for the color of the tapestries on its walls. It was the main room for the senate meetings. On the second floor you can visit the chapel and Sala Farnese. The chapel was built in 1400 and enlarged between 1561 and 1565. It was restored in 1600. There are several frescoes dated to the 1562 inside. On the second floor you can also visit a museum; the Collezioni Comunali d' Arte; here you can see works of art from the 1200 to the 1900.
Palazzo dell' Archiginnasio; the old university, was built between 1562 e il 1565 to bring together under one place the several university faculties that had been scattered around the city. It was the seat of the university of Bologna until 1803. Here you see frescoes and coats of arms of students on lots of walls.
It is a two storeys palace; built around a courtyard. On its first floor there are the ancient rooms of the legisti (they were law students) and rooms of the artisti (they studied other things). On the same floor there are two aule magne; one of these is the so - called Stabat Mater. It is covered with coats of arms of Italian and foreigner students who attended the university. This is one of the rooms open to visitors. It isn' t possible to visit the students' rooms. The other room you can visit houses an anatomical theatre. It is where anatomy lessons where held. Here the students watched the dissection of human corpses. It was build in 1637 and restored after the second world war. It has its wooden walls decorated with statues of famous physicians and famous anatomists.
This palace also houses the public library.
The Museo Civico Archeologico (the archaeological museum) is housed inside the ancient Ospedale della Vita e della Morte (hospital of life and death). This palace dates to the XV century. Here there are several collections which come from the university, from the collection of the painter Pelagio Palagi and from finds from digs in Bologna and in some Emilia Romagna areas.
On the basement of this museum there is a large Egyptian collection with sarcophagi, and lots of funeral items. There is a lapidarium and a plaster cast gallery. Once you visited these you can to go to the first floor where you can visit the prehistory, the Etruscan, the Celt and the Roman sections. There is even a Greek collection to visit here.
There are some Roman mosaics inside this museum.
The Quadrilatero market is practically a maze of narrow streets lined with food shops, restaurants and cafes.
It is located to the east of piazza Maggiore. It is bordered by via Rizzoli, via d' Azeglio, via Farini and via Castiglione.
In the evening this area becomes a place where you can have a drink or a dinner at one of the many restaurants and cafes there.
Here you can find lots of shops; even very small ones where you can buy fruit, vegetables, meat, fishes; bread, pastries and other local food.
Tamburini is a good restaurant to have lunch. It is a self service restaurant and a food shop as well.
Here you can buy various kinds of cold cuts, cheeses, cakes and also take away food for lunch or dinner.
At the restaurant you can help yourself of four first courses at least, some second courses, various vegetable dishes and some desserts.
This restaurant is some meters far from the Quadrilatero market.
In the Middle Ages there were around 100 towers in Bologna. Today there are around 20 of them. The most famous of these are the two towers; the tower degli Asinelli and la Garisenda. The tower degli Asinelli was built between 1109 and 1119. It is around 100 meters tall. Perhaps it was built by the Asinelli Family. There are 498 stairs to get to its top. Surely you can enjoy a very beautiful landscape over the city from there. This tower was used as jail sometimes. The Garisenda tower is 48 meters tall. It was shortened due to a fall of the soil and for the excessive leaning.
Saint Stephen basilica. According the tradition it was Saint Petronio who create this basilica. He was Bologna' s bishop from 431 to around 450. The aim of this construction was to imitate the Holy sepulcre in Jerusalem. This worship place was first built around 400 A. D. over a Roman temple of goddess Isis. Originally it was made of seven churches, but after the renovations works made in the late 19th and early 20th centuries the number was reduced to four.
The first church you will enter is the church of the Crocifisso. It dates to the VIII century. This church was called this way , because a 1300 crucifix is on display inside. Another church you will visit is the church of the Santo Sepolcro. This is the oldest construction of the whole complex. It is a church built in dodecagonal shape. Another church here is the basilica dei Santi Vitale ed Agricola. It was built in the V century, but it was restored and finished in the XII century. The last church you can visit here is the cappella della Benda (the chapel of the bandage). Part of this church is used as a museum.
The complex includes a small museum of religious crafts. It is housed into the chapel of the bandage.
Corte Isolani is a public passageway which links strada (street) Maggiore and via Santo Stefano. Inside this area you see various courtyards with several upmarket shops and some eateries. At both ends of Corte Isolani there are two palaces. Palazzo Isolani which dates from the XV century and Corte Isolani. This was built in the XIII century. It has a third storey carried by a porch made of two brick pillars and oak timbers of nine meters of heights.
A restaurant inside Corte Isolani.
I suppose there are some offices at Corte Isolani.
Nice spot at Corte Isolani.
The church of Saint Dominic was built between 1221 and 1233 to house the relics of Saint Dominic. It was enlarged between 1228 and 1240 and restored between 1728 and 1732.
One of its main sights is the Chapel of S. Dominic in the right aisle. It houses the Ark of S. Dominic. This masterpiece was created through several centuries. It is made of a sarcophagus carved by Nicola Pisano in 1267. Its upper part was added from 1469 to 1473 by Niccolò da Bari. Michelangelo made an angel (you see it on the right) in 1494 and two statues of Sain Petronius and saint Proculus.
Another sights inside the church is situated behind the main altar. These are old wooden choir stalls with Old and New Testament scenes made by friar Damiano from Bergamo and his brother Stefano. They carved them between 1530 and 1549. It is said they used 30 different kinds of wood to made them.
Gelateria Gianni is a ice cream place recommended by two VT friends on their VT pages about Bologna (see ex ...virtualtourist.com); Ingrid Trekki and Toonsarah.
I founded it by chance. I don' t remember which flavours I chose the first time I visited Gianni' s. My ice cream was really good. The second time I went there I think I had a scoop of coffee flavour ice cream and another one of yoghurt. I am not sure about it. I liked it very much. The scoops were big.
There are three branches of this gelateria in Bologna. I went to that one besides the two towers. There aren' t any chairs to enjoy your ice cream inside this ice cream parlour, but you can sit outside on a low stone wall.
Bologna has a long network of underground canals. These were created from the XII to the XVI centuries as a transportations way and to give power to the watermills and to the city's farms. From the 50' s they were covered.
One you can see in the city center is the canale delle Moline. You can see through a small window in via Piella. It is really a picturesque sight as you can see from my picture.
You can find some other canals in Bologna. Just ask the tourist office for a leaflet about these. The tourist office is located in piazza Maggiore.
Don' t skip a visit to Bologna if you are in the area. Even if you can spend only some hours there.