puttering around porticos | a day in bologna

If you have a free day near Venice or Florence, Bologna is the perfect short train ride away. It’s not too touristy so yo get that Italian cultural feel. It’s a smaller city, so it’s easier to digest and walk around just spending a single day (or two). But really, I think what it’s got going is its famous porticos and historical buildings. I was surprised to find that all the buildings have these covered walkways, not just the few marked ones on google maps. However, porticos come in all shapes and sizes, some being more grand than others and some are just a single colored ceiling. What is common to all is the arch shape supports that are built in equal intervals. Occasionally, you might find some alleyways without porticos, which you’ll find yourself dashing to the next nearest shelter.

Due to poor planning, I had not realized I booked my train from Venice to Bologna on the hottest day of the week. I really should have stuck closer to shore for that ocean breeze. But at least they have dry heat in Bologna and it ended up being mostly manageable between walking slowly, finding air conditioning, and eating cold foods. The train station in Bologna is north, just outside the city walls. The streets feel safe to wander throughout the day and into the evening. And bookshops were some of my favorite establishments to walk into. Be careful though with your plans because many places close for lunch hours, so be sure to take your time eating before resuming your tour.

  • Liberia Naturista Bologna and Liberia Libraccio Bologna: huge bookstores
  • Cartamarket: stationary store
  • Mercato delle Erbe, Mercato di Mezzo: local markets

If you’re looking for more attractions, be sure to check these out

  • Parco della Montagnola: a park near the train station with a fountain and sometimes summer night concerts, don’t forget to check out the beautiful steps at Scalinata del Pincio
  • Università di Bologna: a fun campus to walk around, known as the oldest operating university in the world
  • Pinacoteca Nazionale di Bologna: a Renaissance art museum by the university, 10€
  • Museo internazionale e bibliotheca della musica: a music museum, 5€
  • Basilica di Santa Maria dei Servi: a gorgeous courtyard outside a catholic church
  • Torre Asinelli (Le due Torri): The two towers, a great attraction where you walk up 498 steps to the tallest point of Bologna, 5€
  • Biblioteca Comunale dell;Archiginnasio: a beautiful ornate library with free balconies to wander, but library is closed to the public. It’s also attached to the Anatomical Theater, 3€
  • Piazza Maggiore: The center of town, surrounded by historical buildings, the Basilica di San Petronio, Palazzo dei Ranchi, Palazzo d’Accursio, and Palazzo Re Enzo
  • Museo San Colombano: Another historical music museum, particularly focused on pianos, 7€
  • Santuario Madonna di San Luca: host of one of the longest portico walkways, but a longer walk or drive to get to

There’s also a plethora of cafes and restaurants to choose from, so you really can’t go wrong. Naturally, you should try a a local ragù, also known as the bolognese sauce, most often served with the wide pasta, tagliatelle. Lasagna and tortellini are also popular Bologna foods.

  • Traditional Italian food: Trattoria del Tempo Buono, Osteria dell’Orsa, Ristorante Da Cesare
  • Fresh pasta: Sfoglia Rina
  • Cafe: Pappare’, Naama Cafè
  • Coffee: Caffè Terzi Bologna
  • Ice cream: Cremeria Cavour, Venchi Cioccolato e Gelato

Have fun!! If you’re looking for more mountain adventures, check out my ultimate guide to Cortina, a bus ride away from Venice.

Porticos and colorful city buildings


Photos shot on Canon 5D Mark IV and iPhone 13 mini

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