Bologna

Length of stay: 1 day
Visited: August 2022

Bologna is located in northern Italy and has several nicknames associated with some of the key features of the city. The most common of which are: la Dotta (“the learned one”, since Bologna has the oldest university in the world), la Rossa (“the red one”, in reference to the red tiled rooftops in the historical centre) and la Grassa (“the fat one”, because of all the delicious Italian cuisine).

After spending the morning in Florence, we decided to ditch the crowds and take a day trip to Bologna. A hop, skip and a 40 minute train right later, we arrived in Bologna ready to see the sights. From the train station, it was about a 20 minute walk to reach the historic downtown where many of the main attractions are located.

We first visited the Archiginnasio of Bologna, which was once the main building of the University of Bologna. The most notable rooms in the building include the Anatomical Theatre, a classroom with elaborate wood carving that was used for anatomy lectures, and the Archiginnasio Municipal Library, which contains a collection of books related to the religious congregations dissolved by the Napoleonic age and by the Kingdom of Italy.

We then went to the Archeological Museum of Bologna which contains one of the most important archaeological collections in Italy. It features an elaborate display of artifacts from prehistory to Roman times, Greek and Roman art, and a collection of Egyptian antiquities. The museum was closing early, so we only had an hour to race through the different exhibits.

While we weren’t able to visit the Leaning Tower of Pisa earlier in our trip, as a consolation prize, we had booked tickets in advance to visit the Two Towers in Bologna, both of which are leaning. However, due to a medical emergency at the top of the Asinelli Tower, all the tours were delayed. We were told that we’d have to rebook for a later time slot at the Information Centre. And so that’s what we did. The next available time was in two and a half hours. No big deal though as there were still a few attractions on our itinerary. This also gave us an excuse to sample some of the local cuisine.

After eating a late lunch, we walked through the Piazza Maggiore, the central square in Bologna which is surrounded by a few impressive buildings, one of which is the Basilica of San Petronio, the largest church in the city. Construction of San Petronio began in 1390. It was initially supposed to have been larger than St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome, but it, along with the main facade, was never finished. The interior, on the other hand, was completed, along with a meridian line inlaid across the floor.

We then visited the Basilica of San Domenico, which is reputed to be one of the most beautiful churches in Bologna. The basilica contains the marble tomb of Saint Dominic, which was crafted by some of the greatest sculptors in Italy, including Michelangelo. It took almost 500 years to finish.

Once we finished, we started to make our way back to the Two Towers in Bologna. The tour of the Asinelli Tower, the taller of the towers, was up and running again. The tower is 97.2 metres (or 319 ft) high and is reputed to be the tallest leaning medieval tower in the world. The tower was built between 1109 and 1119 by the Asinelli family as a symbol of their wealth. It was later passed onto the city and used as a lookout and defensive stronghold.

There are 498 steps in total to reach the top of the Asinelli Tower. Our tour group, which consisted of around 25 people, spent the next several minutes winding our way up the square tower in the heat. There were a few landing platforms for us to stop and catch our breath. In some ways, it was better to just push through since it was quite stuffy inside. Once we reached the top we were rewarded with a panoramic view of the city and a nice cool breeze.

It surprisingly took longer to walk down the tower than it did to reach the top, but that was largely because we had to wait for the next tour group to come up before we could head back down. We then checked out the Basilica San Martino, another really nice church.

It was then time to catch the train back to Florence. While this wasn’t the day trip we initially planned, we had a wonderful time exploring Bologna and getting away from the crowds.

L

81 thoughts on “Bologna

  1. kagould17 says:

    Don’t you love how easy it is to get from place to place in Italy? Just hop on a trail. Bologna looks like an interesting place. Glad you managed the tower tour. We climbed one in Lucca in 2019. Great views. Thanks for sharing Linda. Allan

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    • WanderingCanadians says:

      Totally!! And they seem to have figured out the whole high speed train situation too. If only we could do something similar here in Canada! It was quite the climb (in the heat) to reach the top, but climbing the tower was a great way to get a different perspective of the city. It’s always worth it for the views. Thanks for reading. Enjoy the rest of your week. Linda

      Liked by 1 person

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      We don’t have have churches like that here in Canada! And yes, it’s wild how some of these churches and decorations took many lifetimes to be built. Italy is one of my favourite countries. I wish we could have stayed longer as there’s still so many towns and cities we have yet to explore. There just never seems to be enough time!

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    • WanderingCanadians says:

      Thanks for your kind words. The Asinelli Tower was the tallest of the towers that we climbed during our visit to Italy. Getting to the top to breath in some fresh air never felt better. Plus the views were pretty amazing. It was well worth the effort.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Rose says:

    There’s so much beauty and fascinating history in Italy. I really like your writing style and the images of your travels. With all your traveling experiences, maybe you’ll both become tour guides? You have a fantastic site. It’s a joy to scroll through your past travel destinations.

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    • WanderingCanadians says:

      Awww, you are too kind. Agreed, Italy is such a beautiful country, plus the food is just amazing. I would actually love to volunteer in a national park someday, probably when I retire. It seems like a great way to give back to nature and the places that gave me so much inspiration and wonderful memories.

      Liked by 1 person

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      For sure. Italy certainly has its architectural achievements and it’s incredible how they’ve stood the test of time. The only downside of course is that many of these beautiful old buildings do not actually have air conditioning!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. leightontravels says:

    The Basilica of San Domenico looks incredible inside and out. The view of Bologna’s rooftops and buildings with verdant green hills behind is lovely. Bologna certainly feels like a nice day trip away from the crowds.

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    • WanderingCanadians says:

      They sure knew how to build churches in Italy back in the day! The architecture and engineering is pretty impressive. I’m such a fan of climbing the towers to get a panoramic view of the city, even if that means tackling all those stairs in the heat without any air conditioning or even good air circulation sometimes. I was honestly surprised at how quiet Bologna was, especially in comparison to Florence. No complaints as it was nice to not have to deal with any lines or anything.

      Liked by 1 person

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      Oddly enough, you don’t really notice the slant when climbing up into the tower. Or maybe you don’t really notice it because it’s just so hot and stuffy inside. I’ve never been so eager to reach the top just to get a breath of fresh air.

      Liked by 1 person

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      It’s funny because Bologna wasn’t even on our radar. We had initially planned to take a day-trip to Pisa, which didn’t really pan out because of delays and issues with the train, so Bologna was the runner up. It was a great decision as Bologna is quite charming, but the best part was that it wasn’t very busy.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Ab says:

    What a wonderful trip to Bologna you two enjoyed. The architecture, buildings, museums all look lovely. Did you get to snap pics of the local cuisine too? 😉

    It’s so funny the first thing I always think about is baloney meat where I read the word Bologna. 😉

    I always marvel at reading about structures that take centuries to build. But I bet something that took 500 years to build also shows it in how it stands the test of time.

    Look forward to seeing more about the rest of your travels!

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    • WanderingCanadians says:

      Ha, I’m totally going to associate boloney with Bologna now, thanks! But apparently the word baloney comes from a meat called bologna sausage. Thankfully the town Bologna is not anything close to baloney though. The medieval architecture was all very charming and surprisingly it wasn’t very busy. We had most of the museums and churches all to ourselves, which was a nice change of pace. And agreed, it’s pretty incredible just how old some of the buildings and monuments are. We don’t make them like that anymore (we also make them with air conditioning now, so I guess I can’t complain too much).

      Happy Friday and have a wonderful Thanksgiving long weekend!!

      Liked by 1 person

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      No kidding, especially given how hot it was! This was the tallest tower that we climbed when we were in Italy. And let me tell you, there is no air conditioning in those towers! It was a huge relief to reach the top and breath in some fresh air. The beautiful views definitely made it all worthwhile.

      Liked by 1 person

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      It’s probably a good thing that your trip was cancelled as let me tell you, it was stinking hot in Italy in August!! I was surprised that Bologna wasn’t very busy though, which was a nice change of pace from when we were in Florence. Save travels in February and enjoy your time (and the food) in Bologna!!

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    • WanderingCanadians says:

      Thanks for your kind words. Italy is one of my favourite countries. This was our second time visiting and it still feels like there is so much we have yet to explore. I love all the history, architecture, food and wine. Mmm.

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    • WanderingCanadians says:

      Those old buildings and medieval towers do not have air conditioning! Sometimes it’s about the journey and not the destination, but in the case of climbing the tower, it was all about reaching the roof. It never felt so good to draw a breath of fresh air! Bologna wasn’t even on our radar, but given our failed attempt to visit Pisa (because of issues with the train and shuttle buses), we decided to give it a whirl. It worked out rather well given how close it was to Florence and that it wasn’t very busy.

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  5. NortheastAllie says:

    Bologna looks so beautiful! The Basilica of San Petronio also looks very magnificent, and has so many elegant details in it. Thank you for sharing all of this information and amazing photos, now this is definitely on my travel list!

    Like

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      Thanks for your lovely comment. The churches in Italy are something else. We don’t have (or make) churches like that here in Canada. We had a wonderful time in Bologna. It was a great spot to visit to ditch the crowds. Have a wonderful weekend. Linda

      Like

  6. Bama says:

    I can imagine how hot and stuffy it must have been inside the Asinelli Tower, although the view up there surely is very rewarding. Florence and Bologna are among two cities in Italy I most want to visit, and your recent posts on both places reminded me of my dream to see them in person one day in the future. What I didn’t realize was how easy and relatively fast it is to get to Bologna to Florence, and vice versa.

    Like

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      For sure. It was quite the climb to reach the top of the tower, but it was so worth it for the panoramic views of the city. There was even a nice breeze on the roof, which felt very refreshing. Hopefully you’re able to visit both Florence and Bologna someday, along with many other Italian cities and towns. There’s so many great spots! It’s amazing how extensive and fast the train system is. It makes get around around very convenient.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Janet says:

    Italy! Amazingly beautiful architecture photos. Loved the window of San Dominico. It’s reminiscent of the church I grew up in. I wonder if it (my church) was built to replicate it.

    Like

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      We had such a wonderful time in Italy and just admiring all the medieval architecture, including the old churches. That’s neat that the church in your hometown is similar to the San Domenico. We don’t have churches like that here in Ontario!

      Liked by 1 person

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      We only had an hour inside the Archeological Museum before it closed, so our visit felt a bit rushed. We were pretty much the only people inside though, so thankfully we didn’t have to elbow our way through the crowds. It was quite the climb to get to the top of the Asinelli Tower, but it was so worth it for the views. I’m glad that we were able to reschedule our tickets for another time slot after our initial tickets were cancelled due to a medical emergency up at the top.

      Liked by 1 person

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      Even though it was a long climb to the top of the tower, at least the staircase was wide! You should definitely add Italy to your travel bucket list. This is the second time we’ve been and I would go again in a heartbeat. There is so much history here, plus the food (and wine) is amazing!

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      • BrittnyLee says:

        The food always looks amazing whenever I watch Eat. Pray. Love. with my mom. I really would love to try authentic Italian pizza 🍕 🥰🤔. I prefer wide stairs on hikes. It’s too hard hiking up narrow stairs. It feels like you’re going to fall when they’re too narrow. The second time you’ve gone to Italy?! That’s seriously awesome 😎 . I’m happy for you. 🙂😊 I definitely am keeping Italy on my bucket list. One day 🙃

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      • WanderingCanadians says:

        You totally should. I wouldn’t recommend going in the middle of summer though as it’s stinking hot and very crowded. Even though we’ve been to Italy twice, there are still so many towns and areas left to explore. There just never seems to be enough time!

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      • BrittnyLee says:

        Exactly 💯 !!! Winters are rough here, too. I don’t recommend Florida, though. Unless you go to Miami. Miami is neat but Florida is wicked hot and humid ugh 😫

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      • BrittnyLee says:

        Right? The hurricanes scare me pale. No thanks . I have been to Miami when Matt and I went on our family cruise . Miami was where the boat was leaving from. We went in March I think or February. It was bitter cold here and warm there. Luckily, at the time we went, the heat was nice not over the top hot . I saw really amazing sunset there. It’s a funny story, actually. Matt’s dad was driving the rental van trying to find a place to eat and got lost because Miami is obviously unfamiliar to all of us. Haha 🤣🤣 While searching, I noticed the moon out of one of the windows. It was so huge. It looked like a Goliath next to the tops of the palm trees. All you see is Matt’s dad driving, lyss and her bf talking and Matt and I snapping photos of the moon. It was probably a sight to see for people walking and or driving by. That moon was really extraordinary, though. I would recommend Miami over other parts of Florida. We were only there one full day so we didn’t get to do much. It’s just neat seeing a place with palm trees and the ocean so close by. I would like to go back one day and actually check it out more but again, when it’s winter here so it’s not too too hot there 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      • WanderingCanadians says:

        Agreed, there’s just something so soothing about being by the ocean. The sunrises, sunsets and seeing the moon just seems so much more magical. I’ll have to keep Miami in mind. It’s pretty awesome that you went on a cruise with your family. I’ve done a bit of travelling with my family, but we have very different styles or approaches to planning a vacation!

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      • BrittnyLee says:

        Makes sense 🙂 everybody has different ways to plan trips. The cruise was something they were planning for. I was actually terrified to go. I’m glad I faced my fear, though. It was well worth the nervousness I fought. The Caribbean is beautiful ❤️. You do have to be very careful, though. Always stay in your designated areas and don’t leave any of the resorts. The people are also very friendly ☺️

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      • WanderingCanadians says:

        One of the reasons I love travelling is that it helps get me out of my comfort zone. Good for you for facing your fears and going on a cruise with your family. I’m sure having them there was comforting. Now that winter is approaching I would love to take a trip to the Caribbean! We’re supposed to get our first snowfall today. Hope all is well.

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      • BrittnyLee says:

        Aw first snowfall ?, We had snow a few days ago and then the weather temperature shot back up again ! It’s confusing on my body haha 😂 but I’m dealing with it . I am grateful for the cooler weather though. This summer was a hot one. I hope you can experience a cruise one time. They’re a lot of fun and they are most definitely good at getting you out of your comfort zone. Having family there helped but having Matt there helped the most. I was terrified of flying but he held my hand majority of the flight and we fell asleep lol 🤣 . His presence is one of the only ones that can calm my busy mind. There’s just something so calming about him. I’m sure you understand. I bet your guy is the same for you. You deserve all things good. You’re so kind and brave. 🙂 Thanks for the thoughtful comments. I always am finding myself smiling while reading them.

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      • WanderingCanadians says:

        Oh I know. The swings in the temperature has been wild. I don’t mind the cooler weather either as it’s better for hiking and sleeping at night. The only issue I have is with the wind and how dry my skin gets when it’s less humid outside.

        We were contemplating taking a cruise, but it’s been put on the backburner until we can put more distance between us and the pandemic! I can see it being a great trip to take with family as your accommodations, transportation, food and entertainment is all taken care of and is one place (on the ship!), which is very convenient. And yes, I totally know what you mean about having someone with you to keep you calm while travelling. I love going on adventures, but I don’t think i could (or would want to) do it alone!

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      • BrittnyLee says:

        Yes, exactly ! Going alone would not be an option for me. I could always bring my soft Billow but I would still be too afraid. It’s not as enjoyable without others. I would definitely wait on cruises now. Cruises are getting more expensive with less being included. Matt’s parents go all of the time and they are going to actually be taking a break from going because of the cost. I wanted to take a cruise with him for our honeymoon but I don’t think we’ll be doing that, now. :(. However, we may go to Canada !!! So if we do decide to go to Canada, I will be letting you know 🙂 . We are still figuring out a wedding date but still, Canada would be awesome 👍😎

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      • WanderingCanadians says:

        The cost of everything seems to be going up like crazy! Canada is definitely a great option for a honeymoon as there are so many great choices depending on what you’re interested in. There are beautiful mountains in the Canadian Rockies, lush rainforests on Vancouver Island, and gorgeous coastal views in the Maritimes. Happy wedding and trip planning. Happy to help if you have any questions or need recommendations.

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