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Bologna Off the Beaten Path

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Bologna is in itself an exotic destination. Though you will find plenty of tourists in the city, it is nowhere close to Florence, Rome, Venice or Naples when it comes to crowds. Bologna is a student city, and is culturally rich. This guide will focus on a few top tourist locations, but with a twist, as well as several lesser-known local spots, which many tourists have never heard of. I only know about some of these places because I spend time with "i Bolognesi" and the students of Bologna, so follow my guide for an idea of how to experience the city from a local point of view, and a chance to mingle with the youth of Bologna yourself!

Good for
  • Thrill Seeker
  • Nightlife Seeker
  • Foodie
  • Peace and Quiet Seeker
  • Like a Local

7 Places

3 City Tips

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Map

7 Places

Ristorante da Nello

Restaurants

Pasticceria Forno Pallotti

Restaurants

Cremeria Funivia

Other Food & Drink

Piazza Verdi

Points of Interest & Landmarks

Biblioteca Universitaria di Bologna

Libraries

La Piccola Venezia

Neighbourhoods

Paolo Atti & Figli

Restaurants

Christopher L's City Tips

  • Bologna is an old city with a pretty open-minded mentality because of the number of youngsters studying here. Common sense goes a long way.
  • Bologna should be experienced on foot. Getting around by bus is not really easy as a foreigner, as you cannot purchase tickets on board, and most drivers do not speak English.
  • Tipping is not a must in Italy but do consider that the local restaurants often employ students. Renting a room in Bologna is not cheap, so a few extra euros will make a huge difference.
  • Save
    Ristorante da Nello
    Restaurants (Italian, Mediterranean, Soups)
    See more photos
    Christopher L Says:

    Living in Bologna means eating out often — the food is simply amazing, and the prices are not bad. I have tried many restaurants in Bologna but I still find this place to be one of the most authentic, and one of the best homes of Bolognese cooking. Da Nello al Montegrappa is close to the main square (Piazza Maggiore), but down a small alley hiding it a bit from the main tourist drag.

    Good for
    • Foodie
    • Like a Local
    • Solo
    • Friends
    • Couples
    • Senior
    • Family
    Tips
    • Go for the iconic dish: Tagliatelle al Ragu Bolognese. You will most likely not find a better version in Bologna!
    Plan to stay:/
    1-2 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #62 of 1,576 restaurants in Bologna
    Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • A real taste of Emilia-Romagna 09/02/2018
    • Local hotspot 07/02/2018
    • Ristorante da Nello
    Address:
    Via Monte Grappa 2
    40121 Bologna
    Italy
    Phone:
    +39 051 236331
    Price range:
    USD 31 - USD 49
    Hours:
    Tue - Sun
    12:00 - 15:00
    19:00 - 23:30
    Other:
  • Save
    Pasticceria Forno Pallotti
    Restaurants (Italian)
    See more photos
    Christopher L Says:

    If you are in Italy and want to live like an Italian, then every morning should start with a cup of coffee and a brioche. This is the Italian way to start the day and it is no different in Bologna. Bologna is, as many Italian cities, loaded with small cafes so it is not difficult to find one. However, finding a special local one is more tricky. Forno is one of the nicer places, which feels authentic and — because of its location — not too touristy.

    Good for
    • Foodie
    • Hidden Gems
    • Like a Local
    • Solo
    • Friends
    • Couples
    • Senior
    Tips
    • Go local. Coffee and a brioche is what Italians typically have for breakfast. If you want to experience Italy, why not do it the Italian way?
    Plan to stay:/
    Less than 1 hour
    From the community
    Ranked #1,201 of 1,576 restaurants in Bologna
    • Close to my University Office 15/04/2017
    • Love for sweets 03/09/2015
    • Pasticceria Forno Pallotti
    Address:
    Via del Borgo di San Pietro 59
    40126 Bologna
    Italy
    Phone:
    +39 051 242417
    Other:
  • Save
    Cremeria Funivia
    Other Food & Drink
    Christopher L Says:

    When it comes to ice cream, Italy is the place to go. All villages, towns, and cities will have small vendors selling delicious gelato, and Bologna is no exception to the rule. While there are many great places in the city, Cremeria Funivia in Piazza Cavour is my absolute favorite. The ice cream is simply amazing and it's always crammed full of locals!

    Good for
    • Foodie
    • Hidden Gems
    • Like a Local
    • Solo
    • Friends
    • Couples
    • Senior
    • Family
    Tips
    • Try NewYork NewYork (with maple syrup and pecan nuts). It’s a winner.
    Plan to stay:/
    Less than 1 hour
    From the community
    Ranked #72 of 362 things to do in Bologna
    • Must visit if you are at Piazza Cavour 26/01/2018
    • Had to be done 27/10/2017
    • Cremeria Funivia
    Address:
    Piazza Cavour
    Bologna
    Italy
    Hours:
    Sun
    11:00 - 23:30
    Tue - Sat
    12:00 - 23:30
    Other:
  • Save
    Piazza Verdi
    Points of Interest & Landmarks
    Christopher L Says:

    Piazza Verdi is one of the very central squares of Bologna and hence very much a part of the beaten track. Nonetheless this square has an authentic side to it too. In the evenings — when most tourists will go elsewhere to eat or drink, or relax at their hotel — all the city's students gather here with cold beers, bottles of wine, and take away pizzas, turning this square into a dynamic network of locals. If you want to get off the beaten track in the middle of the touristy old city center, then head here on a Thursday, Friday, or Saturday evening, and get chatting to the locals.

    Good for
    • Must See
    • Thrifty Traveller
    • Hidden Gems
    • Like a Local
    • Solo
    • Friends
    • Couples
    • Senior
    • Nightlife Seeker
    Tips
    • Buy a beer at one of the small shops next to Piazza Verdi and engage in a conversation after dark. This is a great way to experience Bologna by night.
    Plan to stay:/
    1-2 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #299 of 362 things to do in Bologna
    • Avoid after dark 24/10/2017
    • Depends what you're into! 01/09/2017
    • Piazza Verdi
    Address:
    Piazza Verdi
    Bologna
    Italy
  • Save
    Biblioteca Universitaria di Bologna
    Libraries
    See more photos
    Christopher L Says:

    This is truly an 'off-beat' thing to see. The University of Bologna is among the oldest in the world, and its library is very impressive. It looks like something out of a Harry Potter movie! While I do not suggest spending hours in here, it is interesting to see one of the oldest university libraries in the world still intact and in use today. The architecture, the furniture, the old books... There is something quite remarkable about this place!

    Good for
    • Peace and Quiet Seeker
    • Must See
    • Hidden Gems
    • Like a Local
    • Solo
    • Friends
    • History Buff
    • Couples
    • Senior
    • Art and Architecture Lover
    Tips
    • Don't forget to be quiet. Student are working in here.
    • Remember: This is connected to the University of Bologna, so act respectfully.
    Plan to stay:/
    Less than 1 hour
    From the community
    Ranked #38 of 362 things to do in Bologna
    Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • The highlight of my trip! 30/01/2018
    • Priceless! 16/01/2018
    • Biblioteca Universitaria di Bologna
    Address:
    Via Zamboni 35
    40126 Bologna
    Italy
    Phone:
    +39 051 243420
    Other:
  • Save
    La Piccola Venezia
    Neighbourhoods
    See more photos
    Christopher L Says:

    La Piccola Venezia means 'Little Venice' but you if you're expecting Venice, you may be disappointed! While actually just a single canal, it's a lasting reminder of what Bologna used to look like and is worth a detour if you're nearby and keen to get off the tourist trail and unearth the 'real' Bologna.

    Good for
    • Solo
    • Friends
    • History Buff
    • Couples
    • Senior
    • Art and Architecture Lover
    Tips
    • Check your map before walking here — as it's just one canal, it's easy to miss!
    From the community
    Ranked #35 of 362 things to do in Bologna
    • Little Venice 06/01/2018
    • Not worth the walk ! 11/12/2017
    • La Piccola Venezia
    Address:
    Via Piella
    40100 Bologna
    Italy
    Other:
  • Save
    Paolo Atti & Figli
    Restaurants (Italian)
    See more photos
    Christopher L Says:

    If you want to continue to eat like a local when you get home, pick up some Bolognese delicacies and sweet treats in the medieval market quarter at Paolo Atti & Figli to pack into your suitcase for friends and family back home.

    Good for
    • Foodie
    • Like a Local
    • Solo
    • Friends
    • Couples
    • Senior
    • Family
    Tips
    • You may need to know a little Italian to communicate what you'd like to sample or buy here!
    From the community
    Ranked #298 of 1,576 restaurants in Bologna
    Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • Overpriced and overrated 14/10/2017
    • Great sweets and bread 18/02/2017
    • Paolo Atti & Figli
    Address:
    Via Caprarie 7
    40124 Bologna
    Italy
    Phone:
    +39 051 220425
    Hours:
    Sun
    10:30 - 13:30
    Mon - Thu
    10:00 - 19:15
    Fri - Sat
    10:00 - 19:30
    Other:
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