Bologna Guide

About Bologna, Italy

Bologna is the capital of the Emilia-Romagna sector of Northern Italy. It ranks as one of the most intellectual and developed cities in Europe and is often said to be one of the best places to experience a high quality of life. As you will see from the dates below, it is also one of the oldest cities in the world and is even home to the oldest university, Alma Mater Studiorum, which was founded in 1088.

Bologna has always been considered an intellectual hub. Its inception began when an Etruscan tribe took over an area that was previously occupied by Villanovan farmers and shepherds in 534 BC. From there, an ancient Roman tribe known as the Gallics conquered the land and named it Bononia in 189 BC. By 88 BC it was a centre of commerce and had a large population that went upwards to about 30,000 peoples; large for this time period. It was filled with luxurious sites associated with Romans, including: temples, baths, a theatre, an arena and other opulent amenities. It was here that intellectual Bologna was born.

By 11 AD Bologna was a free commune that bore an open heart and mind to all that came there. It was, and still is, home to the first college that was nicknamed the Studio. It bragged of many notable students like Dante and Boccaccio. Wealthy families flocked here and built the city up with towers, churches, public buildings and abbeys. It continued to be taken over by different peoples throughout the centuries but always managed to take the best pieces of the varying cultures and incorporate them into the city's knowledgeable society.

By the late 19th century, Bologna was a part of the united Italy and gained a new found leash on life while becoming an important commercial, industrial and communicative hub to all of Italy. Today it still remains one of the most well preserved medieval cities in the world and was appointed a City of Music by UNESCO in May 2006. It is also to be noted that Bologna is not only known for its long history and educated society, it also known for its delicious cuisine. Its Italian fruit and veggie market is one of the largest in the world. Its rich dishes are loaded with meats like prosciutto and salami, cheeses, pastas like lasagna and tortellini and delectable sauces to top them off. If you come to Bologna you will definitely not leave hungry!

Things to do in Bologna

Our mini-guide to what's on in Bologna lists the top events and attractions in a handy Bologna Calendar format. If you take your short break in Bologna, Italy when these events are taking place, add them to your list of things to do in Bologna.

1. Artefiera, Art First - Each January the Bologna Fiere hosts the Artefiera contemporary and modern art exhibit. Two hundred of the world's best galleries, museums and private collections lend their art pieces to make for a thought provoking, novel collection. Corresponding exhibitions are located at other venues throughout the city like the Museo Civico Archeologico and Pinacoteca Nazionale. Hours and admission prices vary.

2. Bologna Mineral Show - Tens of thousands flock to the international Bologna Mineral Show. The Mineral Show puts almost 300 exhibitor's items on display. The range of glittering gemstones varies from volcanic rock to the most precious of diamonds. The Show goes on at Palazza dei Congressi from 9am - 7pm annually in March.

3. Mostra Mercato del Disco - Bologna's citizens are known for their love of quality music. The Mostra Mercato del Disco goes to show how much. Nearly 100 stands display music from every genre and format known to man including CDs, DVDs, LPs, cassette tapes, videos and records. This musical event takes place each March at the Palanord from 10am - 7pm. This is a free event except for what you buy.

4. Charme - Cleanse yourself at the annual Charme event held at the Palazzo di Re Enzo e del Podesta each April. This beauty and wellness festival features detoxifying products, fitness tips and beauty regimes that will get you looking your best for the upcoming summer months. Charme also includes relaxing events like jazz concerts, art exhibitions and informative meetings throughout the venue. Admission is 3EUR and hours vary to event.

5. Iceberg Festival - Held annually from April through May, the Iceberg Festival seeks to bring out the best of the best in youth's most talented artists. Iceberg seeks to give these big dreamers exposure in realms from architecture to photography to sculpture and back again.

6. Le Felsinarie - Le Felsinaria takes place from May through June with an aim to showcase the culture and presence of Bologna to the world. Citizens dress in period costumes and different shows, meetings and events take place throughout the city. Prices and hours vary to event.

7. Amores, Dance Marathon - Each June, many of the world's most prestigious dance companies from every genre under the sun including contemporary, modern, traditional and ballet are dancing in the streets of Bologna. Tens of thousands of visitors flock to see these performances and to enjoy events, meetings and seminars. Hours and prices vary to event.

8. Bologna City of Food - Newly incepted in 2003, the City of Food event is fast becoming a favourite. The three day fest fills the main squares, cafes and streets with local Bolognese specialties. The event promises guests the tastiest pasta, sauces, meats, cheeses and desert truffles that they've ever indulged upon. This gastronomical delight takes place in the form of events all over the city for three days in September.

9. La Piazzola Market - This weekend flea market, open Friday and Saturday only, has been reigning in Bologna since it was established in 1219! The market attracts nearly 400 stands jam-packed with mainly clothing pieces from vintage eras to modern times. Since the market fills up with nearly 30,000 visitors, it is wise to get there early for the best bargains. The market opens at 6.30am through 8pm. Admission is free.

10. Santa Maria dei Servi - The Santa Maria is often considered the gem of Bologna. This beautiful church dates back to the height of the Gothic period in the 14th century. It features a renowned Bolognese portico and fresco paintings by the one and only Vitale of Bologna. The stunning architecture on the fa├žade is followed up on the interior with a magnificent High Altar and many affluent works of art. Santa Maria is open from 8am - 12pm and 3pm - 7.30pm daily.


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