What To Do/See In Bologna

Emilia-Romagna - the home of the Food Valley

Ask any Italian where their favourite place to eat is, and their response will undoubtedly be “mamma’s kitchen”. But if we change the context of the question and extend it to include a wider area, the answer will most likely be Emilia-Romagna.

The Emilia-Romagna region, stretching between the Po River and the Apennine Mountains facing the Adriatic Sea, is located northeast of Italy.

Located in the fertile heart of Italy, Bologna is a rich city with an attractive medieval core. Exploring the maze of historic streets, visitors will find miles and miles of porticoes, stretching in all directions from the scenic Piazza Maggiore.

Home to Europe’s oldest university, Bologna has long been an intellectual center and has a lively and cultured atmosphere. Surrounded by the rich farmland of the Po Valley, the city has also earned a world-class reputation for its gourmet food, and is celebrated as Italy’s pasta capital.

Enjoy a walking tour in Bologna along the porticoes and narrow medieval street of the city center.

Bologna, “grassa e dotta”, fat and learned, is famed as a foodie’s paradise. What to see in bologna? 

Local wine tastings, walking food tours in a small group, or just a private couple walk could give you great insight into the city. An authentic Bologna tour consists of wandering around authentic narrow streets of the city center of Bologna, visiting a food market, or even taking part in a cooking class, where you could learn how to make fresh pasta.

Emilia-Romagna is famous for its Food Valley, named so because of the culinary specialties that have led to Italy’s worldwide fame: Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, Parma ham, traditional balsamic vinegar from Modena and Reggio Emilia, Culatello salami, and of course tagliatelle and tortellini.

Another excellence of Emilia-Romagna is its Motor Valler, the place where Ferrari, Ducati, Pagani, Lamborghini, and Maserati were born. Discover our bespoke itineraries and ride on Emilia-Romagna’s world-famous circuits

What to see in Bologna and nearby

1. Visit Bologna, the Asinelli and Garisenda towers and the oldest university in Europe

Ancient Bologna has managed to preserve intact its medieval architecture and charming historic center, among the largest in Europe, with its arcades (there are approx. 40 kilometers of them), noble houses and towers. 

The best known and tallest of the twenty remaining ones are the Torre degli Asinelli and the Torre della Garisenda, built at the behest of Ghibelline nobles in the 12th century for important military functions, but also to represent with their grandeur the social prestige of the families. Climb the 498 steps to the top of the Asinelli and you can look down on the city from above to discover how “turreted” it still is today.

Descending from the Two Towers you will arrive along Via Zamboni, the university street par excellence, home to Departments, the historic Teatro Comunale and the famous University Museums. Here in 1088 the first university in Europe was founded, formally recognized as the Alma Mater of all the universities in the world, and where Dante Alighieri, Francesco Petrarca, Coluccio Salutati, Pico della Mirandola and Leon Battista Alberti, Nicolò Copernico and many other illustrious people spent periods of study.

The best way to explore Bologna is by strolling across the streets of Bologna, taking tours in Bologna, or a cooking class. Join one of our Bologna tours and see the best Bologna can offer.

2. Visiting the Ferrari museum in Maranello

Emilia-Romagna, the Land of Motors, is known as “Motor Valley”, a heaven for racing and motor enthusiasts.

The passion for racing and motors runs through the veins in Emilia-Romagna. It is rare to find such a high concentration of car and motorcycle manufacturers, motor racing tracks, museums and collectors in one place.

This is where the name Motor Valley comes from, and there is no better definition to describe a region that is historically linked to the production of race cars and motorcycles, which has made speed a way of life.

A true guardian of the automotive myth, the museum is located about 300 m from the Ferrari factory in Maranello, near Modena. It was founded in 1990 under the name Galleria Ferrari and collects inside the cars, images and trophies that have written its history. The exhibition includes Ferrari cars, about 40 models in rotation, including the first Ferrari, the 125 S of 1947; the most recent single-seater and road models; several rooms dedicated to F1 where you can understand what telemetry is and how a driver drives in a race. Finally, you can see the World Champion cars from 1999 to 2008 in the Hall of Victories. A Cinema Hall with thematic film screenings, F1 simulators, semi-professional for adults and made from authentic F1 cars for children and teens, and many other attractions await you.

You can also visit the Enzo Ferrari Museum in Modena, with original objects and furniture, just in 1 day, taking one of our Ferrari Day Tour.

3. Discover jewels of European Romanesque in Modena and Renaissance in Ferrara

One of the highlights of Modena‘s artistic heritage is definitely Romanesque art. The complex of the Cathedral, Piazza Grande and the bell tower known as the Ghirlandina, in the heart of Modena’s historic center, was recognized the UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1997. The cathedral, begun in 1099, a jewel and undisputed masterpiece of the great architect Lanfranco and the great master sculptor Wiligelmo, is one of the greatest monuments of European Romanesque architecture, and it continues to amaze with its mystical and genuine beauty.

Ferrara was one of the most opulent courts of the Renaissance. The Este family, who ruled it for three centuries, gave it the appearance it still retains today: a unique structure that harmoniously blends medieval and Renaissance architecture. Precisely because of this characteristic, it was recognized by UNESCO, together with its Po Delta, as a World Heritage Site in 1995. Not to be missed among the jewels of Ferrara are the Castello Estense, ancient residence of the Dukes of Este; the Palazzo dei Diamanti; the Palazzo Schifanoia with its splendid and mystical Salone dei Mesi frescoed in the 15th century by the painters of the Officina Ferrarese.

Join a walking tour in Modena or one of Ferrara food tours to see all hidden treasures of the 2 cities.

4. Discovering Parma, the City of Verdi and Toscanini

Parma’s center is full of art masterpieces, wide green spaces, little and big treasures from different ages, welcoming visitors and citizens all in the refined atmosphere of a petite capital.

The presence of music in Parma’s history is varied and richly known: the liveliness of initiative and collective passion rightfully assign it a prominent place among the capitals of music. This tradition is present today with the great variety of offerings on offer: the Paganini Auditorium, the House of Music, the Arturo Toscanini Birthplace and Museum, the House of Sound, and last but not least the Regio Theater. For opera fans, an evening at the theater in the winter opera season or during the Verdi Festival, held in October, is a must. The house where the great conductor Arturo Toscanini (1867-1957) was born is located in Parma, and is now used as a house museum whose exhibition itinerary dedicated to him brings together musical editions and numerous objects that belonged to him.

Take a walking tour in Parma to explore the best it could offer.

5. Preparing for a mind-blowing culinary experience: from Parmigiano Reggiano to Balsamic Vinegar of Modena to Prosciutto di Parma

Parmigiano Reggiano is the king of cheeses, made today as it was nine centuries ago with the same ingredients and technique. Strict discipline in production, close ties to the area of origin, and the use of raw milk are the fundamental characteristics that distinguish it from any other imitation cheese product. During such long aging (minimum 12 months), the cheese acquires its typical granular structure, flaky fracture, and becomes crumbly and soluble.

One cannot then pass through Modena without having tasted its famous typical product, traditional balsamic vinegar, an exquisite condiment made from cooked grape must, aged for a long time in wooden barrels. An unmissable opportunity to discover some of the secrets of its production is to visit one of the many farms that open their vinegar cellars by appointment.

Finally, the great protagonist of Parma gastronomy is Prosciutto di Parma. It requires that all processing must take place in an area of the province of Parma located at least 5 km from the Via Emilia, south of it and at a maximum altitude of 900 meters. The area is bounded on the east by the Enza River and on the west by the Stirone stream, where the ideal climatic conditions for the natural drying and curing of Prosciutto occur. Fundamental is the so-called Marino, the wind that comes from the sea and is let in where the hams are curing by literally opening the windows.

Join one of our Modena food tours or Parma food tours to try the typical products on your own.

Emilia-Romagna & Bologna Tours

Bologna food tour

To truly get the most out of a trip to Bologna and Emilia-Romagna you need to be sure you see the best sites, and that you’re in on all the local secrets.

Imagine exploring Bologna’s historical center on foot with someone who knows its food and wine, who also happens to be a brilliant chef and loves a fine drop more than anyone else.

This is just one of the many walking tours in Bologna, we offer.


Explore Modern Architecture And Museum Galleries:

Wondering What to see in Bologna? Bologna is much more than just a stopover for, the major airline hubs. Once you arrive and start exploring the city, you’ll see exactly what we mean.

From its delicious food to huge universities it is an amazing mix of historical to Modern architecture. Walking tours in Bologna are the best way to explore this city.

Bologna has got plenty to offer for more advanced travelers looking for dining and cultural experiences. Visit landmarks like the ancient porticoed street known as Strada Maggiore, the famous basilicas of San Petronio and San Francesco, and Piazza Maggiore.

Take a tour of Palazzo Rangoni, home to Bologna’s civic museum and art gallery.

Bologna Self-Guided Tour

Bologna is a city of contrasts, a vibrant city center surrounded by picturesque countryside. Its unique gastronomic ambiance will charm most food enthusiasts.

With its rich historical background and its delightful arts heritage, Bologna and Emilia-Romagna are home to many exquisite treasures that, together with the warmth of its people, will make for an unforgettable holiday both for solo travelers and for couples

Young or old, If you like your privacy, you can choose a self-guided tour among various other options which are cost-efficient.

Cooking Class Bologna

The cooking class in Bologna is a great way for tourists to learn how to cook authentic Italian dishes while they are on vacation. The classes are very popular because they offer an experience that most tourists cannot get anywhere else.

Our Most Popular Tours in Bologna & Emilia-Romagna

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