What’s your favourite Italian city?


Falling in love is a mysterious process over which we do not have any control. Whether you fall in love with a person, an animal, a book or a city it’s very difficult to explain what was it that attracted you in the first place. My faithful readers know how crazy I am about London but can you guess what’s my favourite Italian city?

I have been fortunate enough to have travelled widely around Italy. I got lost in Venice. I got annoyed by tourists in Florence. I ate chocolate in Turin. I wandered around Milan. I was surprised by Naples. I admired the Pantheon in Rome. And I’ve visited many many other Italian cities and villages. But there’s only one where I can imagine myself living. Only one that stole my heart all those years ago. That city is BOLOGNA. The city famous for its gastronomy and the red roofs and the oldest university in Europe (1088) and the leftist politics.

I visited Bologna for the first time in 2004 and spent a week with my best friend and other students from all around Europe. We were shown the city by our fellow Italian students and we got to experience Bologna as locals do. What was it that made me fall in love with Bologna? Maybe the fact that the city is full of young and the students. That it isn’t overcrowded by tourists such as Florence and Venice. That it has a lot of beautiful cultural monuments such as Piazza Maggiore and the Two Towers. I loved walking around Bologna under its porticoes shielded from the sun (and rain). I loved the energy of the city, the feel of it, the food. But most importantly I enjoyed having fun in Bologna with my friend and other students. During my week in Bologna I got to climb the Asinelli tower and buy university T-shirt, visit the Ducati museum, have the best pizza in the world, do some wine tasting, eat lots of gelato, walk around the streets and learn about Bologna’s history, dance, go mountain climbing and visit Florence. Who knows, maybe if I had visited Bologna in different circumstances I wouldn’t have liked it that much but I’m not sure about that since I’ve had lots of fun in other Italian cities with friends too but I didn’t get that same feeling about a city. I’ve visited Bologna again in 2006 and walked all the way to Basilica di San Luca. I also bought a book The Broker by John Grisham in an English bookstore. The book is set in Bologna and it was fun to read it and to say to myself: I have walked down those streets too. 🙂 Since then I spent a few hours in Bologna twice on the way to other cities. It didn’t change much. It’s still a city for the people who live there not just for the tourists. Bologna is still my favourite Italian city.

 Must see sights in Bologna

Piazza Maggiore and Piazza del Nettuno (two adjoining beautiful squares with the Town Hall and several palaces)

Piazza Nettuno & Piazza Maggiore
at Piazza Maggiore
at Piazza Maggiore-tourist office inside
Town Hall
Town Hall

Basilica of St. Petronius-one of the biggest churches in the world (at Piazza Maggiore)

the basilica
the basilica

Archiginnasio of Bologna-it was the University’s main building, today a grandiose library and it houses the Anatomical Theatre (also at Maggiore square)

the Anatomical Theatre– see where the medicine students dissected bodies in the 17th century

 Asinelli & Garisenda towers –you can climb the taller tower (Asinelli) and see the best views of the city

Asinelli and Garisenda towers


Porticoes-walk under these wanderful archways on front of the buildings all around the city

Santo Stefano square-seven churches in one and a lovely square

Portico di San Luca– 3.8km covered walkaway leading to the church Madonna di San Luca

Santuario di Madonna di San Luca-beautiful church and a wonderful panorama of Bologna

Mercato di Mezzo-the oldest market in Bologna

Via dell’Indipendenza-an elegant shopping street with porticos

Pinacoteca Nazionale-a great collection of paintings

Museo Ducati– for motorbike lovers

What to do in Bologna

EAT-gelato, pizza, mortadella, piadinas (flatbread stuffed with cheese and salami)

Don’t order Spaghetti Bolognese but Tagliatelle with ragu 🙂

Drink:  Lambrusco (sparking red wine)

Walk all over the city

Have aperitivo (drink &snacks in a bar)

Spend the night in a pub and hang out with the students

Book a cooking class or a food tour (there are many)

Go on a day trip to Ferrara, Modena, Parma

Shop for souvenirs or high-end European and Italian fashion brands

Just relax and enjoy beautiful Bologna

university shopuniversity shop

Bologna university
Bologna university
Bologna university
one of university’s buildings


 Have you visited Bologna? What’s your favourite Italian city?

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Added this post to August 2018 Travel Linkup by Adventures of a London KiwiSilverSpoon LondonFollow Your Sunshine and Bejal at Be-Lavie.

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98 thoughts

  1. I’ve been to Bologna once before and it didn’t stick out to me. I need to go back for a second visit, cause clearly I missed out. My favourite Italian city is Florence.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I have travelled quite a lot in Italy but never to Bologna but after reading this I intend to for sure. My favourite city is Florence. I first went there 22 years ago and went again in 2017 and am back next month!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. To answer your question I have to separate cities I visit as a tourist from where I would dream to live on. Number one for me is Venice. I shall go there in May. If I was to live permanently I chose Lucca.
    My son in law is a good chef and he loves Bologna.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I’ve visited Milan and Venice, but not Bologna. Thanks for the tip – I love a place that’s young and vibrant. The history around you sounds fascinating, too.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I didn’t get a chance to visit Bologna when I was in Italy, seemed that I really missed out. But of the cities I visited, I think I liked Pisa best. It was the least overwhelming for me (compared to Rome, Milan and Venice). #MondayEscapes

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I’ve read a couple of posts about Bologna lately and those, plus yours, have really piqued my interest. It looks beautiful and with great food too – can’t get much better than that.
    I often try and buy a book linked to the place I’m visiting – really helps to give you a sense of place.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Such a hard question as I’ve been to many (though never enough) Italian cities and it’s very hard to choose. I must say Bologna would definitely be up there near the top perhaps with Verona and Siena and despite its crowds Venice too….

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I really must return to Bologna. Everyone I talk to loves it, but I think I was suffering “Italy Fatigue” at that point and it didn’t win me over. For me, my favourite would be Lucca and its towers and walls. Italy is overflowing with wonderful places to visit. #MondayEscapes

    Liked by 1 person

  9. It is so difficult to pick an Italian city as a favorite. You did a fab job!!👍👍 Someone mentioned Perugia in the comments n I agree 🙂 yet to visit bologna. Want to do it with my bf who is very fond of food.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I’ve heard such wonderful things about Bologna but still haven’t been – definitely on my wishlist. Despite everything (crowds of tourists, impenetrable streets), I think Venice is the city which has stolen my heart so far above Rome, Florence and Milan. Thanks for linking up with #citytripping

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Your photos of Bologna have taken me back to my trip earlier this year! Having your own local tour guide must have been brilliant! I bet it was great to see it from a local’s point of view. I really liked it too….lots of history and not as busy as the bigger Italian cities. I would recommend a trip to Modena too…I loved it there. #citytripping

    Liked by 1 person

  12. I’m with you about Bologna. I thought I loved Florence then I visited Bologna a few years ago. The food blew my mind. The porticos are so beautiful and great when it rains. We bought the most amazing parmesan in a small sliver of a shop that sold only wheels of parmesan. Just such an easy town to enjoy and loads of delicious things to eat. #citytripping

    Liked by 1 person

  13. I agree, Bologna is very special. Love the porticos, the towers (the views pretty awesome, yikes!) and the way the city center is in one way compact but also well spaced out. Plus the majority of tourists are domestic, not international.

    Is it my favorite? Maybe not. But it really ranks up there…

    Frank (bbqboy)

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Such a tough question!!! So hard to choose. I’d have to go with the region of Chianti – we stayed for one week in a family run BnB in the countryside and did day trips to the surrounding towns and hilltops. Siena (which is in the region) is wonderful 😀 #wanderfulwednesday

    Liked by 1 person

  15. I have been to Bologna and wasn’t particularly keen – probably enough to say it’s my least favourite city in Italy… However after reading this I think I need to give it another chance! Rome always enchants me above all other cities in Europe – it is easily my favourite city in Italy.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Bologna looks beautiful! We visited so many places during our three weeks in Italy this year, but we didn’t put Bologna on the itinerary because I hadn’t heard much about it! Now, I’ll definitely have to put it on the list for a future Italian trip….

    Liked by 1 person

  17. I’ve never actually been to Italy (if crossing the border for an hour from Austria doesn’t count). The boyfriend’s going to Milan soon so I’ll have him tell me all about how gorgeous Italy really is then!

    Liked by 1 person

  18. I’ve never been to Bologna, but hear great things! Personally, I’m less of a fan of Italy’s big cities – the tourist crowds were really overwhelming in Rome, Florence, Venice, etc. My favorite Italian cities were the villages in Cinque Terre (which, sadly, is also getting very touristy), and Sorrento.

    Liked by 1 person

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