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Bologna see + do

The first thing most visitors notice about Bologna is the fact that almost every street is lined, usually on both sides, with arcades, or portici (the network is so extensive that you will rarely need to use an umbrella, even in the pouring rain). Though found in other Italian cities, only in Bologna have the arcades become a regular feature even of 19th- and 20th-century city blocks. The portici go back to the flourishing Middle Ages, when merchants began building extensions onto the facades of their palazzos, propped up by wooden pillars; with time, these became the stone arcades we see today. Most of the major sights—with the exception of the hilltop sanctuary of San Luca—are within easy walking distance.

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Archiginnasio, Bologna

Students from all over Europe come to study at Bologna's university, the oldest on the Continent, founded in 1088. By the 16th century, most of its colleges and...more

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Markets, Bologna

Every day is market day in Bologna. Locals and tourists alike haggle for fresh fruits and veggies, spiffy leather handbags, and antique furniture at these...more

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Museo di Arte Moderna di Bologna, Bologna

Inaugurated in December 2007, the Museo di Arte Moderna di Bologna—a.k.a. MAMbo—finally gives the city a contemporary art space worthy of its...more

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Museo di Palazzo Poggi, Bologna

The present-day home of the University Rectorate as well as a number of faculties, Palazzo Poggi is a huge frescoed pile that dates back to the mid-16th...more

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Museo Ducati, Bologna

A sharply designed tribute to the city's legendary red motorbikes and 50 years of motorcycle racing, the Ducati Museum is housed in an annex of the company's...more

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Museu Morandi, Bologna

This museum is located on the top floor of 14th-century Palazzo d'Accursio (Bologna's town hall). Giorgio Morandi, the city's most famous contemporary artist,...more

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Piazza Maggiore, Bologna

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...more

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Pinacoteca Nazionale, Bologna

The city's main gallery features a heavyweight collection of paintings of the Bolognese and Emilian schools from the 14th century to the present, including...more

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San Petronio, Bologna

Designed by Antonio di Vincenzo in 1390, Bologna's unfinished cathedral is one of Italy's finest and largest Gothic buildings. Of particular note, the main...more

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Santo Stefano, Bologna

Located in a quaint cobbled square, Santo Stefano is a magnificent complex of churches, cloisters, and courtyards dating back to the fifth century, all...more

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Information may have changed since date of publication. Please confirm details with individual establishments before planning your trip.

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