Overview & Brief History


Bologna, often called “La Dotta” (the Learned), “La Grassa” (the Fat), and “La Rossa” (the Red), is a historic city located in the Emilia-Romagna region of northern Italy. Renowned for its prestigious university, rich culinary traditions, and well-preserved medieval architecture, Bologna is a cultural and gastronomic hub that attracts visitors from around the world.

A Brief History

Founded by the Etruscans around the 6th century BC, Bologna has a long and storied history. It flourished during Roman times as a strategic crossroads along the Via Emilia, a major Roman road connecting the cities of Rimini and Piacenza.

In the Middle Ages, Bologna became a prominent center of learning and commerce, thanks in part to its thriving university, founded in 1088 and considered the oldest university in the world. The university attracted scholars from across Europe and earned Bologna its nickname, “La Dotta” (the Learned).

Bologna also played a significant role in the development of European law, with its medieval legal scholars contributing to the creation of the famous legal code known as the “Justinian Code.”

Throughout its history, Bologna was ruled by various noble families, including the Bentivoglio and the Papal States. The city’s distinctive red brick buildings and numerous towers, such as the iconic Asinelli and Garisenda Towers, date back to this period of prosperity.

In addition to its intellectual and architectural heritage, Bologna is renowned for its culinary traditions. The city is famous for its rich and hearty cuisine, including dishes such as tagliatelle al ragù (Bolognese sauce), tortellini in brodo (tortellini in broth), and mortadella.

Today, Bologna remains a vibrant and dynamic city, blending its rich history with modern innovation and creativity. Its well-preserved medieval center, lively markets, and bustling piazzas continue to enchant visitors, while its renowned university ensures that Bologna remains a center of learning and culture.

Things to See & Do


Piazza Maggiore

This sprawling main square is the heart of Bologna, featuring stunning architecture like the Palazzo d’Accursio (Town Hall) and the captivating Neptune Fountain (Fontana del Nettuno).


Due Torri

The Asinelli and Garisenda Towers are iconic symbols of Bologna. Climb the taller Asinelli Tower for panoramic views of the city and surrounding countryside.


Basilica of San Petronio

Visit the largest church in Bologna, known for its impressive Gothic architecture and unfinished facade. Inside, marvel at the stunning frescoes, sculptures, and the meridian line on the floor.


Archiginnasio of Bologna

Explore the historic seat of the University of Bologna, one of the oldest universities in the world. Admire the intricate wood carvings, portraits of famous scholars, and the Anatomical Theatre.


Santo Stefano Basilica

Discover this unique complex of interconnected churches, including the Church of the Holy Sepulchre and the Church of the Crucifix. Explore the atmospheric cloisters and chapels adorned with ancient frescoes.

Local Dining


Pasta Paradise

Indulge in the iconic tagliatelle al ragù (tagliatelle with Bolognese sauce), the city’s signature dish. Savor the rich, slow-cooked ragu simmered to perfection and served with fresh pasta.


Hidden Trattorias

Venture beyond the main squares and discover hidden trattorias serving authentic Bolognese cuisine. Savor dishes like cotechino con lenticchie (cotechino sausage with lentils) or gramigna con salsiccia (small pasta with sausage), all prepared with fresh, local ingredients.

Insider Tips

Ask a local about Bologna’s “7 Secrets,” hidden symbols or details scattered throughout the city, adding a touch of intrigue to your explorations.

Embrace the Italian tradition of aperitivo in the late afternoon. Head to a bistro like “Le Stanze” for drinks and  small plates, perfect for pre-dinner socializing.

Consider purchasing a Bologna Welcome Card for discounted entry to major attractions, free public transportation, and special offers at restaurants and shops.

Virtual Tours

Bologna Walking Tour

Bologna Market Tour

Bologna Evening Walk


Interactive Maps

Wander around Old Town

Experience Santuario Madonna di San Luca

Piazza Maggiore


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