Via Piella- A peek at one of the only remaining canals of Bologna.
Fountain of Neptune- It was commissioned by the church in the 16th century, but represents a pagan god, Neptune, and it is pretty racy with the mermaids squirting water out of their breasts. You can read more fun facts about it in the link, and how the famous sculptor, Giambologna (sculpted The Rape of the Sabine Women) wanted Neptune's penis bigger. It has a small fountain next to it where you can get fresh water, and it's a popular meeting place for students.
Biblioteca Salabrosa- A library right next to the Fountain of Neptune located in the Palazzo d'Accursio, which was once the place where the Bolognese senate met, and contains a beautiful frescoed ceiling completed in the 16th century. Beneath the library, which you can view through glass or you can visit at certain times, is ruins from the ancient city of Bologna dated to 189 BC. Once you've taken it all in there is a lovely cafe on site where you can sit and have an espresso or a beer and look up at the amazing ceiling.
Le due Torri/Two Towers- The symbol of Bologna. The Asinelli Tower is the tallest medieval tower in the world. It's a lot of fun to walk around the towers taking in the different perspectives, and how much they look like they are leaning depending on where you are standing. It is currently closed so we weren't able to go up, but we still enjoyed seeing the towers.
Archiginnasio Palace- The oldest university in Europe where you can walk many of the halls for free at your leisure. You pay a small fee to visit the Anatomy Theater and the Stabat Mater Lecture Hall, both filled with unique sculptures and design. When in the Lecture Hall you can glimpse the old library through a doorway. This building is absolutely gorgeous and a must visit when in Bologna.
Parco della Montagnola- The oldest park of Bologna with truly unique concrete sculptures designed by Diego Sarti in the late 1800s.
Trattoria Valerio- A family run restaurant opened in 1898 that is still family operated, and is still using the same recipes. We had the Tagliatelle al Ragù and Polpettone con Piselli, and both were delicious. The restaurant has a great locals atmosphere, where it seemed like they have been coming here forever and they get the same dish every time, with a few tourists. One gentleman, maybe the owner, waited on all the tables and he did a great job.
Drogheria della Rosa- Restaurant located in an old pharmacy with no menu and relaxing outdoor seating. The waiter tells you what they have on the menu that day, you choose, and then prepare for some of the best food you've had in your life. A truly remarkable meal. One thing to make sure you get if it's offered that day is the Green Lasagna Bolognese.
La Traviata- I came here for the Green Lasagna Bolognese, and unfortunately they ran out, but I was not disappointed in the meal. It was fantastic! I tried the tortellini en bordo, another famous dish of Bologna, and the Cotoletta, which the server recommended, and it was sooo good! Yum!
Tamburini- The perfect spot for a charcuterie and cheese board, with local products, and you can wash it all down with some wine from the region. It's also a store, so you can buy products to bring home or for snacking while still in Bologna. Located In the Quadrilatero area.
Va Mo La- A restaurant in the setting of a library with food to match the atmosphere. "Food for the body, wine for the spirit and books for the soul" I highly recommend you put this spot on your list. It was my last meal in Bologna and a memorable one.
Caffe Rubik- The cafe's style is a mix of old and new. My guess is that it's family run and the younger generation has been allowed to make some changes, like the cassette tapes along the bar and modern local art, but the coffee is still served out of delicate china, and there is still an older woman working the counter. Of course this is all me guessing. I do not know the true story of the cafe. Regardless, it's a great spot to start the day at an outside table beneath one of the many arcades of Bologna.
Osteria del Sole- Oldest bar in Bologna that is filled to the brim with locals sharing drinks from the bar, and meat and cheese that they bring in themselves. It has a happy family and friends vibe.
Bar With No Name- A super cool original bar that is run by deaf people. The vibe is relaxed and the bartenders are friendly. If you can sign you order that way, or you just point or mouth what you want. We were told about this bar by a friend from Bologna, and I am glad we went.
Enoteca Storica Faccioli- A pretty wine bar opened in the 1920s that has great interior decor and seating outside. Order a glass of wine here, or purchase a bottle to bring home. We did both. The owner is a charming woman who creates a relaxed atmosphere.
Camera a Sud- Look no further for the perfect cafe in Bologna: This is it! It has great natural light, they play instrumental trad. jazz, and the bartender/barista was kind and welcoming. It's the type of cafe you can spend many hours in reading or writing. It turns into more of a bar atmosphere at night, and they serve food too.
I Portici Hotel Bologna- A comfortable hotel in a great location for seeing all of the sites. It's very close to the bus stop, Mille, where the Aerobus stops from the airport and it's also very close to the train station.
DAY TRIP TO
Why not add an extra country to your list while in Italy?
Catch a train from Bologna to Rimini, they run regularly but make sure you book one with a seat or you will be on an hour long train with no seat and crammed with people. It's only a little more expensive and very much worth it. If your ticket does not have a reserved seat you are on a train where most likely you will not get a seat, so I repeat book a ticket where you have a reserved seat.
When you get off the train you go to Bonelli Bus office located just outside the station on your left and buy your bus ticket to San Marino. It is 10euro RT, and it does not give you a seat or a time on your ticket, so you need to line up at the stop, which is a few stops down from the Burger King. They will give you a bus schedule at the office, but you can also find it here. The sign at the stop will say Bonelli Bus on it (there are a few regular stops before it). I think it's that last one on that side. It's about an hour ride, and it drops you right at San Marino City at the bottom (there is an elevator that brings you to the higher level).
San Marino is a beautiful and strange place; strange because it is filled with Russian tourists and random shops selling air guns; beautiful because it is on top of a mountain looking out at rolling hills and striking scenery.