Being the gastronomic capital of Italy with 35 km of cloisters, the homeland of the first European university and one of the world’s largest Catholic churches, Bologna embodies everything that is referred to “the spirit of Italy.”
What makes Bologna even a more attractive holiday destination is that it abounds with interesting sights and hundreds of restaurants, there’re no tourists all over the place, and it’s conveniently connected with some of the most famous Italian cities.
Besides, although Bologna is not very popular among foreign travelers, there are multiple ways of interesting pastime there, and using this article you can discover some of them!
1. Visit the local flea market
Many seasoned travelers believe that a visit to the flea market is a mandatory point of a stay in a particular place. Indeed, this kind of street fairs can tell you about the city no less than local historical buildings and museums. And even if you don’t manage to find there what can make your heart beat faster, inspecting the old stuff in the local flea market will be a memorable part of your trip.
So, one of such places in Bologna is the market of Santo Stefano, where you can buy vintage paintings and bags, wooden statues, furniture, books, jewelry, pottery and much more. This market is open every second weekend of the month. It is located in the same name square, next to the Basilica of Santo Stefano.
2. Visit an aristocratic villa in the popular quarter
If you love visiting various historical places you should head on to Porta del Pilastro District of Bologna, where you will find a large construction, which is hidden among the tree leaves. The name of the building is Villa Gandolfi Pallavicini. This beautiful and little-known villa is located in about 20 minutes’ drive from Due Torri, which is Bologna’s historical center.
For centuries the villa hosted many distinguished guests, such as the young Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, who was preparing for the entrance to the prestigious Philharmonic Academy there during his stay in Italy in 1770. Today the villa is the headquarters of Alma Mater Foundation and can be visited free of charge.
3. Visit the hotel with a secret
When strolling by Via dell’Indipendenza Street of Bologna, you can see the Portici Hotel, which stores inside the remains of the ancient theatre and underground tunnels belonging to the fortified citadel. The Eden Theatre has been closed for decades, but thanks to the restoration of the building that sheltered it – Palazzo Maccaferri – the theater was reestablished. Today you can admire there beautiful frescoes of Liberty Belle Epoque style and taste the dishes of an excellent Michelin restaurant.
Another interesting attraction of the Palazzo is the underground tunnels which were part of Rocca di Galliera complex. Currently there’s a separate hall for exclusive candlelight dinners.
4. Visit a favorite place of bibliophile
The Libreria Coop bookstore is located on Via Orefici 19 in a former church with a glass roof. The store occupies the area of almost one and a half thousand square meters, and offers books of any kind. There’s a separate shelf devoted to Bologna – various guides, gift editions, maps, albums. Other sections of particular interest are devoted to cookbooks and different reference books on Italian Osterias and restaurants. There’s no time limit for the acquaintance with the books; you can take any book you like and read it as much as you want, while sitting comfortably in a chair.
On the ground floor of the bookstore there’s a cafeteria, which serves juices, tea, coffee, desserts, and Pannini. You can buy there different kinds of honey, jam, spices, and kitchen accessories. The restaurants on the second floor offer a bigger choice of meals, e.g. pasta, cereals, sausages, cheeses, etc. On the third floor there is an Osteria, where except for wine you can order beer of different Italian and foreign brands.
One of the main advantages of this store is that it’s open every day till 12:00 PM. So, if you are in Bologna and forget to have lunch until 15:30 (most of the restaurants in Bologna are closed after lunch until 20:00), you can always go to Libreria Coop, take some nice meal and choose some lovely gifts there.
5. Visit a paradise for a Sweet tooth
If you are traveling to Bologna with kids in a rental car, don’t miss the recently opened Museum of ice cream. The museum is located at the Carpigiani factory in the city of Anzola dell’Emilia, which is 14 km westward of Bologna.
The ice cream fans come to this Italian city to find out when and who invented the dessert, who created its first recipe, how it used to be frozen and stored without refrigerators. Besides the history, the visitors can discover the secrets of how to distinguish the ice cream from sherbet and sorbet.
In addition, a guide will tell about ice cream production technology, some historical facts and introduce some interesting stories. Also, the visitors can see the tools used for making the ice cream, and a kitchen, where confectioners demonstrate how to prepare various kinds of sweets at home.
In the end the guests of the museum will be able to taste not only a modern ice cream, but also the one prepared by the old recipes. For example, you can taste a raspberry sherbet which the Italians used to eat in 1822, and a coffee sorbet, which was very popular in 1854.
Finally, it’s worth to mention that Bologna is beautiful all year round and whenever you come there, you will get amazing and unique impressions of the city. So, if you are still hesitating, which city to start your tour around Italy from, then opt for Bologna, since it’s one of those places where you can feel the real spirit of Italy!
Author Bio: Lily Berns is a real adventurer, who travels all over the world. She likes to share her experience and recommendations.