The best itineraries recommended by the Director
Dear Guest, welcome to Bologna.
To help you have the best experience in our beautiful city, I propose that you follow my instructions, as if I personally accompanied you on a tour.
Leaving the hotel going left towards the historic center, the first thing you will see is the Church of the Sacred Heart which is more than 100 years old and the Testoni Theater with the illuminated tower.
On the bridge of the train tracks you will find the monument to the Shoah which was recently inaugurated in memory of the victims of the massacre: at sunset it is very beautiful and evocative for photographs.
After crossing the bridge you will find the Porta Galliera dating back to 1200 which was the ancient main access gate of the city; under the door there are water channels that still flow.
On the left you find the Scalinata del Pincio dating back to 1300. Above it you can admire the gardens where the evildoers were hanged in front of the public square centuries before ... My advice is to look at it from a distance ... Under the garden for 600 years every Friday and Saturday the Piazzola market takes place.
Continue on via Indipendenza, which is the main street of the city and remember to look at the ancient buildings, some have beautiful facades decorated with really beautiful caryatids and stuccos.
In the middle of via Indipendenza, after the statue of Garibaldi on your left, you will find via Augusto Righi: go along it and after about 300 meters on the right you will find via Piella. Here there is a magic window that takes you back to the old canals that cross Bologna: a magnificent place to take pictures ... You should know that until 1800 Bologna was the city where the best silk in the world was produced and was woven using the blades that they went around moving with the water of the canals. The canals were used to transport goods to the port of via Lame and then to reach the Po and from there to Venice and around the world.
Turn right and then go back to via Indipendenza, after about 1 km you are in Piazza Maggiore the first thing you will see is the beautiful Fountain of Neptune built in 1566 by the famous architect called Giambologna. This fountain receives water directly from the Bolognese hills and was said to be miraculous because during the plague only those who drank from this fountain did not die while those who used the wells unfortunately did not make it.
Now you will see a small door on your right, enter and you will find the old covered market now home to the largest multimedia library in Europe which is inside the Town Hall building.Enter the palace and go to the courtyard; on the right you will find the horse staircase that will take you to the second floor where in 1530 Charles V was crowned emperor of the Holy Roman Empire. From the beautiful frescoed hall you will see the square in all its beauty.
First thing you see is San Petronio; it is not the cathedral, but the fifth largest Christian church in the world wanted by the Bolognese.
Enter and you will find the magnificent sundial and many works that will be described internally. On the left you see the Palazzo Re Enzo, seat of the then political and economic power of the city which was later transformed into a prison for King Enzo son of Charles V captured in battle. Subsequently home to theaters and time for cultural events, it is not always open but you can visit it.
Twice a day from the square the bus open for the »sight seen« leaves, take it, it’s a lot of fun ... In front of you you will find some small streets (the middle market): go through them all, you will find many really fantastic places for one quick snack.
In these streets I suggest you go to Via Clavature and visit the Church of Santa Maria della Vita, once an old hospital for abandoned children, where you will discover the statues of Nicolò dall’Arca with the representation of the Dead Christ ... something to do chills come. On the first floor there are the frescoed rooms and other beautiful clay statues.
Then continue to the portico of Pavaglione where you will find the 3rd most important Egyptian museum in the world for exhibited works and always under the portico the Archiginnasio Museum with its wonderfully frescoed rooms and the first theater dedicated to anatomy in the world, visit it.
Get off the museum and continue to the end of the portico where on the left you will enjoy the aperitif that the Bolognese consider most chic: Zanarini. On your left then you will find Galleria Cavour, center of fashion and the most important brands in the world.
Exit the gallery and continue towards the beautiful Piazza Minghetti where you will find a splendid marble palace now the headquarters of the Bank and in front of the most important museum of the city in Palazzo Pepoli Campogrande. Here you can learn about the history of Bologna from 700 BC. up to the present day and enjoy an impeccably restored building, really recommended!
Now turn right and go towards the two towers ... On your right you will find the wonderful Chamber of Commerce in a beautifully rebuilt building from the 1200s.
We come to the towers, the symbol of Bologna. This city counted about a hundred, now there are 25 inserted between the buildings or visible as the splendid Garisenda and Asinelli of 1100.
The towers were real fortresses that were erected to protect themselves from the invasions of the peoples who passed and sacked Bologna to conquer Rome.
There are many splendid testimonies that can be visited by purchasing the ticket in the information office in Piazza Maggiore. One of the most beautiful towers is called Dell’Incoronata and you can book an aperitif at 60mt but be careful ... there is no lift ...
Now that you have seen the towers continue on the beautiful Strada Maggiore that you find to the right of the highest tower ... this was the ancient Via Emilia. In the middle you will find on your left the Museum of Music unique in the world (Mozart, Donizetti and Rossini studied here), at the bottom the beautiful church of Santa Lucia with the Christmas market and the fantastic Davia Bargellini Museum full of antiques used by families noble and further on the house of Carducci.
But in the middle of Strada Maggiore you will see many people with their noses up ... why? It seems that there are 3 arrows stuck used during a battle in the medieval portico of the palace, have fun looking for them! Then enter the courtyard of the building and you will see the most beautiful square in Europe: Piazza Santo Stefano.
In the square stand out the 7 churches that you absolutely must visit and listen to the story told inside ...
In the square on the 2nd Saturday of the month there is the very nice antiques market ...
There are other beautiful churches to visit such as San Domenico (where you will find the ark of Nicolò dall’Arca and a wonderful Angel by Michelangelo), the Church of San Giovanni in Monte, the Church of San Giacomo Maggiore and many others to witness the community Christian of the medieval era. For the most devoted there is a walk in San Luca (a 2.5 km uphill porch !!!!!) which leads to the beautiful church where the Bolognese go to the Madonna of San Luca. But be careful ... the arches are 666 like the number of the devil ... before the last exit and continue on the road (ancient popular belief).
In Via Zamboni you will also find the seat of the oldest university in the world, from the year 1088.
Are you hungry? Back in the Mercato di Mezzo, you can also buy what you prefer and go and sit in the Osteria del Sole in Vicolo dei Ranocchi where the innkeeper has only served you wine since the 1400s.
What else to tell you? Bologna deserves at least a visit of two or three days to explore every historical wonder, so I refer you to the information office in Piazza Maggiore where our guides will be happy to organize a private tour with all the more detailed information of mine.
I’ll wait for you at the hotel for a greeting!
Giancarlo, director and owner of this hotel for 30 years