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Piazza Maggiore, Bologna

Italy's insider take:

This huge pedestrian square is the center of Bolognese life. It's a great place for people-watching (locals on their daily strolls, well-dressed workers sitting at café tables sipping their cappuccinos, children squealing at street performers) or for starting a guided tour (information and times at the IAT tourist office in the square), as most major attractions and historical monuments are within walking distance. The piazza is also flanked by several architectural gems: the Palazzo d'Accursio (whose clock tower is Bologna's Big Ben), Palazzo Podesta (the city's law court in the 14th century), and the imposing Basilica di San Petronio, with its rugged, unfinished facade.

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