7 Things I Loved About Bologna (and Why I’ll be Back)

Even though neither of us have even been to Bologna, Mike and I have long had it on our short list of places to seriously consider living in Europe (along with Rome of course). We had heard so many good things from friends who have visited and lived there.

It did not disappoint, at all. Bologna is super under-rated among people who haven’t been there. It doesn’t have the fame and glamour of Rome or Venice or Florence, but it’s so perfectly, iconically Italy. We only spent 4 days here but I fell head over heels.

So here’s why I’m pretty sure I’ll be back in Bologna, if not to live (although maybe, hopefully, to live?), at least to hang out a little longer:

Covered Walkways

The first thing I noticed about this city and how I knew it must be made for weather challenged people like me! I even did a whole love letter to the porticos where you can read about their history.

Food (umm duh)

I thought about writing a whole post on the food of Bologna but I figured after Rome you guys might be tired of hearing it. No matter, I’m sure we will return and I will have ample time to tell you about the hot chocolate so thick it’s like pudding, so rich it’s like cream. Or the tortellinis boiled in tender broth (always in broth). Or the pasta bolognese which is never made with spaghetti- it’s too thick and hearty for such a wimpy pasta, you need a real thick noodle to take that rich beefy flavor.

I could also tell you about the Emilia-Romagna region and it’s many different areas famous for balsamic vinegar, parmesan cheese, Parma ham, truffles and more.

I could go on. I think you get what I’m putting out there though?

The Library

Nerdy girl that I am, I fell head over heels in love with the Bologna public library off of the Piazza Maggiore. The Salaborsa is located inside an old palace, but the interior is gorgeous and modern. We wandered in on a Thursday afternoon and the place was buzzing with university students working on projects, senior citizens reading the paper and hip young people on laptops. “I would work here all the time if we lived here,” I told Mike immediately.

The best part was the see through floor of the library which provides a window to an archeological dig going on below.

The Markets

those peppers!

Okay this is kind of a cheat since I already said food, but as I’ve made quite clear over the past few weeks I am super obsessed with Italian cuisine and fresh produce. I’ve been getting more and more in to eating organic and local, and it would be very easy, and delicious to do that in Italy.

In fact, I’ve already started researching local cooking classes.

The Crazy Statues

Look at that saucy minx! She and three others just like her form the base of the Fountain of Neptune by Renaissance artist Giambologna. It sits at the very center of the city and for me it pretty perfectly sums up the kind of irreverent, “we do what we want” attitude of the city.

Not sure about this one though, can anyone tell me what’s going on here?

The octopus!

The Ease of Travel

It’s also an ideal home base for someone looking to explore Italy geographically and culturally. It’s set right in the center of Northern Italy, a transportation hub with links to nearly everywhere.

From Bologna you can easily explore the surrounding region which includes gems of small towns like Ravenna, Modena, Parma, Reggio Emilia and a whole bunch more. Or you can go further afield and explore the rest of Italy:Venice is two hours away, Milan 1 hour, Florence just 45 minutes.

The Mystery

There is a lot of Bologna we didn’t get to see or experience in our three days there (particularly since we devoted an entire day to gorging on gelato). It’s an ancient city full of secrets, hidden alcoves, small museums and more. There are small cafes, modern shops, old traditions and more to be discovered. Plus, there’s all of Italy basically at your steps.

Will we make Bologna our home this fall? It’s a definite maybe. I would love to spend some time living in Italy, exploring the culture of my grandparents and hopscotching around Europe. If it were up to me we’d go right after the wedding. There are still a lot of details to be worked out, many not under my control, we we’ll have to wait and see, but no matter what happens I’m pretty sure I’ll come back to Bologna.

Think you guys could handle all the food posts?

We visited Bologna as guests of the Emilia-Romagna Tourism Board. All optimistic-about-moving-to-Italy opinions are my own.


18 Responses to 7 Things I Loved About Bologna (and Why I’ll be Back)

  1. Naomi May 9, 2013 at 7:02 PM #

    Lots of food posts please! Although the hazard that comes with food-based posts means I get ravenously hungry and sad I can’t eat all the amazing food then and there. Still, food is probably one of the best bits about travelling so I for one will definitely not be bored!

  2. Christina May 9, 2013 at 8:20 PM #

    Thanks for the highlights! I had planned to see Bologna but skipped it last minute to spend more time in Ravenna. Now I wish I hadn’t! 🙂

  3. Steph (@ 20 Years Hence) May 10, 2013 at 5:45 AM #

    I don’t think I could live in a city long-term if it didn’t have an awesome library, either. Nashville, TN definitely wasn’t my dream city, but one of the things it can rightly brag about is it’s awesome main branch—the building is historical and beautiful, and they actually had an amazing collection as well!

    Also: a thousand times yes to the food! I for one would not be at all put out if you did write another post and shared pictures of all these amazing Bolognese specialities!

  4. kami May 10, 2013 at 7:25 AM #

    I loved Bologna! I’ve been there 3 times so far and I’m sure it’s not the end 😉 did you know that exactly the same weird fountain is in Batumi, Georgia? I was quite surprised when I saw it!

  5. Julika May 10, 2013 at 11:12 AM #

    Bologna sounds like an amazing city! The library looks gorgeous too! Working surrounded by books, an archeological excavation, and such a beautiful ceiling? Perfect work space!

  6. Kieu ~ GQ trippin May 11, 2013 at 12:34 PM #

    Food (um duh) is why I want to go there.. 🙂

  7. Casey @ A Cruising Couple May 12, 2013 at 12:16 AM #

    Amazing! Bologna is one of the places I missed when I travelled through Italy 🙁 Everything looks amazing, especially the food! This is also probably why I gained a ridiculous amount of weight in Italy haha.

  8. Charise May 14, 2013 at 9:12 AM #

    Bologna is at the top of my list of places to go when we return to Italy. Food is by far my #1 thing to travel for, and I’ve heard so many amazing things about the food in Bologna. I for one would not object to a full post on the food you ate while there. 😉

  9. Stephanie May 15, 2013 at 1:48 PM #

    I have been living in italy for the last 3 months, and decided to take a trip to Bologna for the weekend! i also fell in love! such a beautiful underrated city full of old italian charm! Could not agree with you more!!

  10. Jenna May 15, 2013 at 7:28 PM #

    I have been looking forward to going to Bologna for a long time since Italy is my favorite country, but I just haven’t gotten there yet. Soon…soon…

  11. Clayton Elliott May 15, 2013 at 8:10 PM #

    I’ve never been to Italy, or Europe for that matter, but was planning taking a jaunt over there this summer / fall. Your pictures are beautiful and Bologna def looks wonderful! Especially the food and the markets!

  12. Victoria May 17, 2013 at 12:27 PM #

    Oooh, I wish you had written a post on food in Bolgna. We go there tomorrow and I’m looking for recommendations!

  13. I’m heading to Bologna in July to visit an Italian friend! I’m so excited to gorge myself on gelato and Italian cuisine as well. It all reminds me of Eat, Pray, Love. I was basically drooling the entire time I was reading the portion where she’s in Italy 🙂 Thanks for the post and getting me even more pumped to visit!

  14. Travel Musts May 18, 2013 at 2:31 PM #

    I was lucky enough to spend some of my university years in Bologna. I prepared my master’s thesis in Sala Borsa, the library pictured in your post! And of course now that io am far away I truly miss the amazing food! Thanks for bringing back so many memories!

  15. Jérémy May 28, 2013 at 7:46 AM #

    When I went there it was raining heavily… so I really enjoyed the archs 😀 You can almost visit the whole city without feeling the rain!

    Despite that, the city is quite nice and I met some crazy people. There is this amazing “Pizza place” just beside the “two towers”, where you can take away big and really good slices of margherita for very cheap (1,50€).

    Not sure I’ll come back soon though, so many places to visit in Italy (specially the south where I still havent been), but definitely recommanded !

  16. Surya Bhattacharya July 8, 2013 at 11:36 AM #

    Wow! I’ve got a free weekend coming up. Bologna it is!!

  17. Debbie A. August 29, 2015 at 1:16 AM #

    Just read The Broker by John Grisham (2002–oh well). He has the same love for Bologna. It has spurred me to check out sites like yours. He also loves the food, porticos and the towers. Looks sort of cold after living in SoCal.

Leave a Reply