4th July 1:43pm Day 68: “Yesterday I arrived in Bologna. Stepping off the train I was hit by a hot sweaty odour, the streets were dirty and felt unsafe in the darkness. I was a bit scared…”
The first lines in my diary don’t start off too well, but I ended up really enjoying my short time in Bologna. The tourist centre is really small, so you’ll be able to walk from one side to the other of this beautiful student city in about twenty minutes.
- The leaning towers: Torre degli Asinelli e della Garisenda – Forget spending €30 going up the leaning tower of Pisa, the shorter tower Asinelli costs you €5 to climb and has an overhang of 3 meters. The Asinelli tower used to be 20ft taller, but as the earth gave way underneath and it started to lean they had to shorten it. Click here for more info on the towers and a love story.
- Piazza Maggiore and the unfinished Basilica San Petronio – The beautiful main square and neo-gothic church in the centre of Bologna. Free entry, panoramic views from the top of the church to see the famous red roofs from above €3.
- The Archiginnasio – My favourite visit. Part of the University of Bologna, the oldest university in Europe, where they held anatomy classes with live dissections. The room had to be completely rebuilt after it was destroyed in World War 2, scavenging all the remaining pieces from the rubble. Look out for two skinless statues, the textbooks of Galenus and a statue of a famous nasoplasty surgeon. €3.
- Giardini Margherita – Public park, deafening with the noise of grasshoppers, check out the terrapins in the pond. Free entry.
- Pinacoteca di Bologna – There is a huge amount to see in this art gallery, but do your research beforehand as there is little or no information about the different parts when you’re there. Entry €3.
The seven secrets of Bologna
A sort of treasure hunt of fun things to see following the myths and legends around the city. Details on this website. From checking out the phallic fun of the fountain in Piazza Nettuno, to catching a glimpse of Bologna’s secret canal past, this tour is so much fun to do. Bologna used to have an internal canal system to transport goods around the city, now only visible from one point. Seeing the canal was so surreal, even if you don’t do all of the secrets definitely check that one out.
Bologna is well known for its food, but as a poor student I didn’t really have the money to taste any. For a cheap way into Bologna’s food, I was told that a piadina is a local bread. Its sort of like a larger thinner pitta bread. I had one from Sfarina Piadina in the Mercato delle Erbe.
At night, get your drinks in a plastic cup and go and sit in the university area, where you’ll find all the students doing the same. Such a nice atmosphere and key to feeling part of this student city.
A very cheap place to visit, with all attractions at €3 (even the food didn’t feel too tourist-pricey). There is a lot more to Bologna than what I’ve included here, but I was only there very briefly and this is all I could fit in.
If you have any comments/feedback or more suggestions, or if you managed to find the hidden one of the seven secrets leave a comment below!