The city is home to the oldest university in the world and numerous students who enrich its cultural and social life. Famous for its towers and long porticoes Bologna has a beautifully preserved historic centre. Its artistic importance and its importance in terms of landmarks is based on a homogenous mixture of monuments and architectural examples (medieval towers, antique buildings, churches, the layout of the historical centre) and works of art resulting from a first class architectural and artistic history, which can be seen in the city’s important museums and art galleries.
In 2000 Bologna was appointed the "European Capital of Culture" and in 2006 it was named a UNESCO "City of Music".
But Bologna is also a city of water. Hidden beneath the porticoes of the city centre there is a network of canals and locks that can be glimpsed from certain vantage points in the historic centre.
But Bologna does not live on culture alone: the Bologna cuisine (as well as the Emilian cuisine in general) is famous for its variety and opulence. Meat (in particular pig) and fresh egg pasta form the basis of the most typical dishes: mortadella, tortellini, lasagne and ragù (typically served with tagliatelle) to name just a few.
Bologna’s nickname of la grassa (the fat one) goes hand in hand with its other nickname la dotta (the learned one).
Bologna is only 25 km away and it can easily be reached in half an hour with the Savena valley road, that links Lodole Country House with the city centre.
A HALF-DAY TOUR OF BOLOGNA
Situated right in the heart of the old city centre, Piazza Maggiore is surrounded by all the town’s most important buildings, including the Basilica of San Petronio, Palazzo d’Accursio, Palazzo del Podestà, Palazzo Re Enzo, the Neptune Fountain, Sala Borsa, Palazzo dei Notai and Palazzo de’ Banchi.
This is the most important church in Bologna and it houses the relics of the city’s patron saint, Petronius. Built in the 14C, San Petronio is a splendid combination of gothic, mediaeval and renaissance art and its size makes it the sixth largest church in Europe. Its immense incomplete facade and majestic interiors are an undisputed must for any visitor. The floor inside the Church also features the world’s largest sundial designed by the astronomer Giovanni Domenico Cassini in the 17C.
Winter opening times: 7.15am-01.00pm /02.00-06.00pm
Summer opening times: 7.15am-01.30pm/02.30-06.00pm
This palazzo, the city’s historic town hall, dates back to the 13C. A number of different rooms are open to the public, including the Sala Rossa (where civil weddings are held), the Sala del Consiglio Comunale, the Sala Farnese and the Palatina Chapel. Palazzo d’Accursio also houses the municipal art collections, including the Morandi Museum that contains a splendid collection of works by this famous Bolognese artist.
PALAZZO DEL PODESTA’
Situated opposite San Petronio, this palazzo was built in the 13C to house the Podestà (City Magistrate) and is now only open to the public for special exhibitions. Famous for its Voltone and the Torre dell’Arengo that towers above it, the palazzo includes a picturesque arcade with a series of classic cafés where tourists can relax at a table and watch the hustle and bustle in Piazza Maggiore.
PALAZZO RE ENZO
Built behind the Palazzo del Podestà in the 13C , Palazzo Re Enzo was used as the city prison in the middle ages. The interiors are only open to the public during exhibitions or special events. The picturesque entrance to the palazzo is in Piazza Nettuno, opposite Bologna’s famous Neptune Fountain.
The Neptune Fountain was built in the 16C to celebrate the election of Pope Pius IV. The monumental bronze structure of Neptune, known to the Bolognese as “The Giant” was the work of Giambologna and is now, together with the two towers, one of the city’s most popular symbols.
The covered square in the so-called Sala Borsa, opposite the Neptune Fountain, is part of the Palazzo d’Accursio complex. In the 19C it was renovated as the city’s main centre of commerce in a distinctive art deco style that gives it an exquisitely elegant appeal that can still be enjoyed today. A recent renovation project has also embellished the structure with a glass floor revealing the underground ruins of the ancient Roman settlement of Bononia. Used as a general meeting place and a location for events and exhibitions, today the Sala Borsa is also home to a major public multimedia library.
Open from Monday to Friday 10.00am -08.00pm, Saturday 10.00am -07.00pm, closed on Mondays and public holidays.
PALAZZO DEI NOTAI
This historic building, the old College of Notaries, was constructed between the 13C and 14C. It is situated next to San Petronio overlooking Piazza Maggiore, and its splendid frescoed rooms are open to the public.
Opening times: Monday, Wednesday and Friday 9-14 Tuesday and Thursday 15-18
PALAZZO DE’ BANCHI
Palazzo de’ Banchi is located on Piazza Maggiore next to San Petronio. It was built between the 14C and 15C and takes its name from the bankers and moneylenders whose stalls once stood beneath its arcades. The palazzo, which can only be viewed from the outside, is particularly famous for the Portico del Pavaglione that connects the Palazzo de’ Banchi with the Palazzo dell’Archiginnasio, the first seat of the University of Bologna. The Portico del Pavaglione is the salon of the city and many of its chicest boutiques are here as well as civic museums and old-fashioned cafés. The ideal place for a cultural visit or a relaxing pause in the historic heart of the most exclusive promenade in town.
This palazzo was built in the 16C as the first seat of the oldest university in Europe. Today it holds the Biblioteca Comunale dell’Archiginnasio (Municipal Library) and its vast collection of volumes and manuscripts.
The old university classrooms are open to the public and of particular interest are the Anatomical Theatre where anatomy and dissection lessons were held and the Sala dello Stabat Mater that hosts numerous cultural events.
Biblioteca dell’Archiginnasio – open from Monday to Friday 8.30am-1.45pm, Saturday 8.30am-12.45pm
Anatomical Theatre – Monday to Saturday 9am-1pm
Located in Palazzo Galvani, just a stone’s throw from Piazza Maggiore, Bologna’s Museo Civico Archeologico or Archaeological Museum, stands next to the Palazzo dell’Archiginnasio with its entrance in the elegant Portico del Pavaglione arcade. The Museum has 5 different collections housed in its Etruscan, Roman, Greek, Egyptian and coin sections and all of them are open to the public.
Tuesday to Friday 9am-3pm
Saturday, Sunday and public holidays 10am-6.30pm
Closed on Mondays (apart from public holidays), Christmas Day, New Year’s Day and 1st May.
Admission: Full price € 4 – Reduced price € 2
Also known as the “Seven Churches” the Basilica of Santo Stefano is a complex of religious buildings originally designed as a reproduction of the seven sanctuaries of Jerusalem. Today only four of the seven churches in the original project have survived, but these are truly splendid examples of the Byzantine and Romanesque styles used between the 5th and 12th centuries. The Benedictine cloisters, used by monks for over a thousand years now, completes the complex. The distinctively cobbled Piazza Santo Stefano in front of the basilica is a popular stage for events and concerts organised by the city.
Opening times: every day 7.00am-12.30pm/03.30-7.00pm
This impressive Church was built in the 13C to house the body of Saint Dominic, founder of the Order of Dominican friars who still live in the adjacent convent and run the Church. The Basilica contains priceless works of art including the superb sarcophagus of Saint Dominic that includes three statuettes by Michelangelo.
Opening times: every day 7.00am-1.00pm/3.30-7.30pm
THE TWO TOWERS
The classic symbol of Bologna, these two adjacent medieval towers stand right in the heart of the old city. The Torre degli Asinelli is open to the public and anyone who is ready to climb its flight of 498 steps can enjoy spectacular views of the city from the top.
Opening times: Summer 9am-6pm, Winter 9am-5pm
Events and Fairs:
Click here for details of the special package Lodole Country House is offering Autopromotec 2013 visitors.