As far as sightseeing is concerned, the list of places to see in this city is endless. A good place to start is Piazza Maggiore, a large pedestrian square right in the middle of the historical centre. From here, it is possible to have access to several important monuments: Basilica of San Petronio, City Hall Building, Portico dei Banchi and Palazzo del Podestà. A popular meeting and strolling place is Via Rizzoli, one of the main streets of Bologna. Via Rizzoli leads into Piazza di Porta Ravegnana, where the famous 12th century Two Towers, Asinelli and Garisenda, stand out. One of the famous symbol of Bologna is the Fontana del Nettuno (Fountain of Neptune) built in 1563, located in the square that bears its name, Piazza del Nettuno, just next to Piazza Maggiore. In front of the Statue of Neptune, there is the “Biblioteca Sala Borsa” (Sala Borsa Public Library), one of the most important libraries of the city.
No visit to Bologna would be complete without a stroll down the San Luca Walk, which takes you through the largest colonnades in Europe, with its 666 arches.
Almost everyone knows Bologna to be the capital of fine food. Familiarly, Bologna is called “la grassa” (the fat one) because of its inhabitants’ love and passion for food. The city has many food focused venues, specialty shops and food products that are made locally from the region.
It is easy to find cooking classes and wine tastings in many different places in the city centre and suburbs, and of course, the good restaurants and cellars to taste fine food and wine are almost endless. No visit to the city would be complete without tasting its typical traditional food.
Bologna is no doubt synonymous with tortellini! Legend has it that their shape takes inspiration from Venus’ navel. The official recipe provides that dough is made with flour and eggs, while the filling contains pork loin, raw ham, mortadella di Bologna, Parmesan cheese, eggs and nutmeg. One of Bologna’s emblematic figures, the sfogline, are the keepers of the city’s important tradition of hand-made pasta: women who patiently knead and roll the dough so it acquires the right thickness, and, in the case of tortellini, stuff, twist and seal them so they take their characteristic shape and do not break open. To enhance their taste, tortellini should be eaten with a broth of capon or hen. It is a typical winter dish that the Bolognesi often eat it for their Sunday lunches; it is also part of the traditional Christmas meal.
Not exactly what tourists think of when they ask for “Bolognese sauce,” this is a thick ragu of onions, carrots, pork, veal, and a little bit of tomato. Ragu is not eaten with spaghetti (contrary to wherever else in Italy), but with tagliatelle, a tasty fresh pasta made of flour and eggs, which is handmade “stretched” and cut in 7-8 mm wide strips.
One of the essential ingredients of tortellini is mortadella, another great culinary delicacy hailing from Bologna. It seems that mortadella was already known and thoroughly appreciated by the Romans: proof of this is the mortarum, a utensil that was used to mince pork meat, which can be seen inside Bologna’s Archaeological Museum. It is often served alongside with other regional products such as Parma's Prosciutto Crudo ham and Parmigiano Reggiano cheese.
Another worldwide favorite, lasagne are a wide, flat pasta shape, and possibly one of the oldest types of pasta. Traditional lasagne are made by interleaving layers of pasta with layers of sauce, made with ragù, bechamel and Parmigiano
It’s a savoury sauce, made of white onions, olive oil and tomatos and used with bread and to top pork meat or polenta. It is an historical Bologna dish and the original recipe is jealously kept in the local chamber of commerce, along with the tortellini and tagliatelle ones.