Nicknamed 'la Dotta' (the Scholar) for the presence of the oldest university in the Western world, 'la Rossa' (the Red) for the distinctive colour of the roofs of its houses, and 'la Grassa' (the Fat One) for its exquisite cuisine, Bologna is a welcoming, vibrant city, packed with cultural events.
With an Alitalia flight to Bologna you can experience a splendid weekend in a youthful city that teems with life thanks to the crowds of university students and much more besides. You can admire its symbols, such as the countless towers and almost 40 km of porticoes that make it truly unique, discover the University of Bologna, where such famous people as Thomas Beckett, Copernicus, Giovanni Pico della Mirandola and Paracelsus studied, taste the typical tortellini and other culinary delights of the city's restaurants and pop along to the picturesque and vibrant markets in search of an original souvenir. Here are a few of the things that you can do and see during a trip to Bologna.
The heart of the city, the Piazza Maggiore has forever been the centre of civil and religious life, as well as the square where you can find the most significant historic buildings to visit: the Palazzo Comunale (otherwise known as the Palazzo d'Accursio) from around 1300, the Palazzo dei Banchi, from 1500, the Palazzo del Podestà, from 1200, and the enormous Basilica of San Petronio, which was completed in 1390. At the centre stands the huge Fountain of Neptune.
TORRE DEGLI ASINELLI
An icon of Bologna, together with the long porticoes, the towers were built between the 12th and 13th centuries and were constructed for prestige as well as for defensive purposes. Of the towers that are still standing, the most significant is the Asinelli, which is 97.20m tall. Climb the 498 steps towards the top and enjoy a breathtaking view of the red roofs of the city, a perfect panoramic scene for a memorable photo.
BASILICA OF SAN PETRONIO
The most important church in the city, not to mention the fifth largest in the world. Built in a Gothic style, with a Latin cross and three naves, you will find splendid frescoes in its chapels, the most important of which is by Giovanni Battista Bolognini and depicts the stories of the Magi and the Last Judgement. You can also see the ancient Great Meridian Line by Giovanni Cassini inside the church.
Once the home of the ancient university, the 'Studium', it has now been transformed into the municipal library. Located just a few steps from the Piazza Maggiore, it is one of the most important buildings in the city. Inside you can visit the grand courtyard, with around 6,000 coats of arms and commemorative monuments of professors and students, while on the upper floors you will find various rooms, including the Anatomical Theatre, used for the study of human anatomy, and the Stabat Mater Hall, where the Legists met. The library that occupies a section of the upper floors boasts a collection of 800,000 volumes, including manuscripts, incunables and books from the sixteenth century.
There is never a bad time to book a flight to Bologna, though we particularly recommend spring and autumn, when the mild climate means you can visit the city in total comfort. Especially in spring, when you can enjoy the best events, bars and open-air restaurants, as well as the remarkable light that illuminates the characteristic red roofs of the houses. It is also the best season for long walks along the hills that surround the city, from where you can enjoy a fantastic panoramic view.
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