Name: Sara Spittler
Attractions: Bologna is awesome! However, it was not necessarily designed for tourism. It does have museums (I love the Archiginnasio and the Jewish History Museum) and the “Seven Secrets” of Bologna. The Bologna Museum of Modern Art (MAMBo) also gets rave reviews, but I never got the opportunity to check it out.
It’s disputed what actually qualifies as the OFFICIAL Seven Secrets, but I know them as follows:
1. The vase on top of the higher tower, Asinelli
2. Piccola Venezia
3. The Arrows in the portico over Strada Maggiore (Legend has it that the city was being invaded but a woman in a window distracted the attackers as they released their arrows, leaving them in a wooden portico, one of the oldest in the city)
4. Little Neptune (If you stand behind him in the right spot, it looks like he is very well endowed)
5. The Whispering Walls
6. Panem Vita, Canabis Protectio, Vinum Laetitia in Via dell’Indipendenza
7. From Porta Saragozza to the Sanctuary of Madonna di San Luca there are 666 arches in the porticoes
The real fun in Bologna is in walking around Piazza Maggiore and Le Due Torri. There are cute local shops and markets. It’s very colorful! Some of my favorite streets to wander down are Via Caprarie, Via Drapperie, Via Pescherie Vecchie, Via Oberdan and Via Clavature.
Food: Bologna by far has the BEST restaurants! Bologna, “La Grassa” or “the fat,” is in the Emilia Romagna region of Italy, otherwise known as the Stomach of Italy.
My personal favorites:
Osteria dell’Orsa on Via Mentana
Banco del Vino also on Via Mentana (specialty pizza!)
Trattoria Mariposa on Via Beritera (pastas and salad)
La Mela on Via de Fusari (right off of Piazza Maggiore, pizza or pasta)
Trattoria del Rosso on Via Augusto Righi
Le Stanze on Via Borgo di San Pietro (great aperitivo)
Osteria Marsalino on Via Marsala (good place for drinks and snacks)
C’era una Volta on Via d’Azeglio
La Tua Piadina on Via Borgonuovo (sandwich place for a quick lunch)
Swine Bar on Via Augusto Righi (also fun for a drink)
Osteria de Poeti on Via de Poeti
While in Bologna you MUST have lasagna and tagliatelle di ragu. Both originated in the town. Other Bologna specialties are tortellini in brodo, which is like tortellini soup, and mortadella, where we get the American bologna. For gelato, avoid Grom, it’s a chain restaurant and therefore less authentic. Cremeria Funivia in Piazza Cavour is awesome, as are Sorbetteria Castiglione on Via Castiglione and Cremeria Sette Chiese on Via Santo Stefano. Most things are closed on Sundays and Mondays (which is very typical of Italy in general) so keep that in mind as you travel!
Most of the bars and clubs are in the University zone of the city. Piazza Verdi, Via Zamboni, and Via Petroni are particularly raucous at all hours of the night. For a drink, I always liked Cafe Paris on Via Petroni, Cluricuane (an Irish pub) on Via Zamboni, and L’Ortica (a wine bar, much chiller scene) on Via Mascarella. Also, Momus in Piazza San Martino is always a hit – it’s very popular with the erasmus students. They have this amazing (but deadly) drink called the Magic Sam! My plan is try to recreate it in the States, but we’ll see if I can do as well!
Transportation: The easiest way to get around Bologna is to walk. Within the walls, it takes about 25 – 30 minutes to walk from the west side of the city to the east. There are also buses, but I didn’t mess with the bus system much – they’re notorious for being late.
I hope that Bologna becomes more popular in the future, as it is definitely one of the most unique cities in Italy!