A delightful fusion of history, politics and traditional cuisine, the city of Bologna is arguably one of Italy’s best kept secrets. Situated in the north of the country, it is only in recent years that visitors from outside of Italy have discovered just how much this vibrant city has to offer. Home to Europe’s largest old town, history is an important part of the overall make-up of Bologna. The famously lopsided twin towers of Asinelli and Garisenda keep an ever-watchful eye over the glorious old town, with the magnificent 15th century Piazza Maggiore taking center stage.
Bologna has gained a number of affectionate monikers over the years; the russet-colored buildings which typify the city giving rise to the nickname of La Rossa (the Red One). Another famous term for the city is La Grassa (the Fat One), given in honour of its rich historic legacy of producing the finest Italian cuisine. The restaurant menus here are full of tempting local specialities such as tortellini, prosciutto, mortadella and turkey with pecorino cheese.
Home to Europe’s oldest university, founded in the year 1088, Bologna has a large student population. As a result, the nightlife scene here is hip and vibrant, the city’s many bars and clubs opening into the early hours of the morning. This concoction of historic legacy and cosmopolitan culture makes Bologna one of Italy’s most absorbing and fascinating cities to visit.
To see the very best of the city, the ideal times of the year to visit are during the months of March, April and October. Temperatures are still pleasant at these times and the pavement cafes which adorn the city streets are alive with people watching the world go by. August is not a recommended time to visit as many of the city’s shops are closed for the summer holidays.
The months of January and February are the cheapest months to visit the city. The average daily temperature is fairly cool, although often the skies remain pleasantly cloudless and blue.
Operated by ATC, there are a number of bus routes within the city of Bologna. Tickets can be purchased either on the bus itself, from ticket machines at the bus stops or from participating newsagents and tobacconists. There are a number of taxi ranks throughout the city, although taking a taxi can prove to be expensive. Tipping taxi drivers is discretionary here as the metered fares are calculated to include service charges.