I was in Bologna for two full days and nights. However, I only spent a day in Bologna because I spent the second day in Ravenna, a small city which is an hour and 15 minutes by train. Ravenna is a city known for its amazing mosaics, history and architecture. It’s also the final resting place of Dante, a great Italian poet, who wrote Divina Comedia (Divine Comedy).
A Day Trip. Bologna can be reached by 35 minutes by train from Florence. It’s 2 hours from Venice and an hour and a half from Verona.
Travel Itinerary: A Day in Bologna
8:00 AM – Arrival
Let’s just say you arrive at Bologna Centrale at this time. From here, follow the scent of freshly baked brioche and coffee coming from Bar Della Stazione, a little coffee shop that provide pastry, drink and juice to all the people that are running for work. Get a creamy espresso with a full flavor of the best Italian coffee! This will wake you up from the long trip. And don’t forget to bring a bottle of water before you go to your next destination.
8:30 AM -Portico de San Luca & Sanctuary of the Madonna
Flag a taxi outside the station and tell him to bring you to Portico de San Luca. Then, start climbing the 3.7 kms all-covered portico all the way up to the Sanctuary of the Madonna. This is a really good start for your day – climbing! But, don’t worry – you’ll be fine.
11:30 AM – Lunch at C’era Una Volta
I’m sure you must be hungry from the climb, right? So, why not an early lunch at C’era Una Volta? It’s a perfect Restaurant to enjoy the typical dishes of the city. Try their pumpkin tortelloni with Parmesan cream and crispy bacon. It’s tasty and delicate, a delight for the palate! Still hungry? Well, why you don’t try the “cotoletta alla bolognese”” It’s meat covered with cheese and prosciutto!
1:00 PM – Piazza Maggiore, Basilica di San Petronio, etc…
When you’re tummy is happy, it’s now time for you to explore the historical city. Walk for a minute to Piazza Maggiore, the center of the city! Here, you’ll find the major monuments of the city, such as the ancient and imposing Basilica di San Petronio, various noble palaces, and the famous statue of Neptune with its fountain. They are all close to each other, so you can make the best use of your time without having to walk too much.
The Legend. If you’re a candidate for college graduation, it’s better not to cross the square in the middle but on its edges / sides. legend has it that if you make the mistake of crossing the middle, you won’t be able to graduate. 😀
2:30 PM – Torre Degli Asinelli / The Two Towers
Walk towards the Torre Degli Asinelli a leaning tower that leaner more than the . If it’s open, go and climb the tower to see the city’s skyline / panorama.
3:30 PM -Quadrilatero
Surrounding the Two Towers are cafes, restaurants and markets. Mercato de Mezzo is the city’s oldest market. Go around Quadrilatero and perhaps, buy some souvenirs?
4:30 PM -Sala Borsa Caffe
Get yourself a glass of Italian wine at Sala Borsa Caffè. Don’t forget to check out the excavations under the library!
5:15 PM -Via Piella / The Secret Window
From Sala Borsa Cafe, discover a nice secret place of the city, Via Piella just in 10 minutes walk. it’s a little Venice in the middle of the city. The narrow river was used for a long time to run the mills. Find the Secret Window! It’s a tiny window with the view of the river that passes through / between colourful residential houses.
6:00 PM -San Pietro Cathedral / Museum
Step into the Cattedrale Di San Pietro, the main church of the city. Inside you will see marble statues made 800 years ago. Don’t forget to go down to the cathedral’s museum to have a glimpse of its incredible collections. The cathedral also has a tower that gives you 360-degree views of the Bologna. See the photos here.
7:00 PM – Via Indipendenza / Arena del Sole
From the cathedral, walk on the cobblestoned street and porticos of Via Indipendenza. This is also the city’s shopping district. On your way, stop by Arena del Sole and admire its imposing facade and statues. It also have a rooftop with a view of the city. If you’re staying here for a night, make sure to watch a show.
8:00 – Back to Train Station
Ans this the end of your day trip in Bologna. Remember that in summer, 8:00 PM is still day time. 😀
Where to Stay in Bologna
Just in case you decide to stay in Bologna for a night and leave very early the next day, stay at Stazione Centrale. When you arrive, do not exit at the front / main gate. Go to the back exit / entrance and from there, it’s just 20 meters away. Click this link if you want to see more of it and read reviews.
Not a Solo Traveler? Join a tour!
Well, you know, solo travel is not for everyone. Should you decide to go on with a tour group, go with – Intrepid Travel. They have a wide variety of tours for all ages and different kinds of travelers, including solo, seniors, teenagers and family.