Bologna

Do you want to discover the real Bologna gay life? Read the guide and come here!

DO&SEE

Bologna is Italy’s gastronomic capital. This makes Bologna the perfect destination for food lovers. Bologna is also a University city, with thousands of men coming from all part of Italy and Europe to study here. But here it isn’t all about food and books, Bologna has much to offer starting from its alternative gay night-life. But let’s start talking about a day in the capital of Tortellini.

The city offers many tourist attractions. The streets of Bologna are full of colors and Italian way of life.

A WALK IN BOLOGNA

Start your visit of the city with Piazza Maggiore, one the main plaza in Bologna and most loved places by locals. Piazza Maggiore is in the heart of the city and the main hub for Bologna people to meet friends. Look at Neptune Fountain, created by Gianbologna in the 16th century and try to understand why those people are looking at the statue in profile. The sassy side of Neptune!

Piazza Maggiore is also home to the Basilica of San Petronio. This odd-looking church has the bottom in pink marble and the top in brick. San Petronio was designed to be bigger than St. Peter’s in Rome and is one of the most interesting churches in the city.  If you visit it inside make sure to look at the giant and incessantly rotating Foucault pendulum and the meridian line cutting across the floor of the nave.

In a few minutes, you will arrive in one of the most important streets of the city. Via dell’Indipennza is a street with tons of shops, from high end to stylish clothes boutiques. Carry on the search for the perfect outfit on via Ugo Bassi and via Rizzoli, but if you are looking for key names like Italian fashion designer Via Farini, just behind Piazza Maggiore, this is what you need. Here you can find some of the most famous Italian brands such as Dolce&Gabbana, Fendi and Versace.

Archiginnasio was created in the 16th century and it was one of the main buildings of the University of Bologna. Today it houses the famous Anatomical Theatre that is undoubtedly the center piece of the structure. In this room students have learned about anatomy and watched dissection. What you can see now is the immense amount of wood paneling of medical practitioners.

Walking through the streets might you be surprised to see a leaning tower. The pair of towers are in Piazza di Porta Ravegnana and are among the most legendary in the city. Asinelli Tower and Garisenda Tower (it leans by more than 13 meters) take their names from two important Italian families. Make sure to climb the towers and after 498 steps enjoy the amazing view of the city and see the colli bolognesi.

Once you enter in Saint Stephen’s church you might think that you are in in several different buildings. This church is known as “the church with 7 churches” and features several different buildings including the church of Saint John the Baptist, and the church of the Holy Sepulchre. Each church has its own character, design and artwork and there is also a free museum that contains historical information about the complex.

One of the main characteristics of Bologna are its portico, an enclosed walkway that is lined with arches and columns. You can walk through 45km of corridors around the city but the most famous are the Bonaccorsi Arch and the walkway leading to the Sanctuary of the Madonna di San Luca.To arrive at San Luca Sanctuary, you must stroll the 666 porticoes. Take your time, it will take about one hour walking but once you are there you will feel as free as an eagle soaring over the city.

If you need some rest the Giardini Margherita is what you deserve. One of the most famous gay parties of Bologna takes place here every Friday. This is also the place where Pride begins. Along with Giardini Cassarini and Porta Saragozza, this is one of the most iconic places for the LGBT community in Bologna. Into the Gardens of Cassarini Villa you can find the Memorial to Homosexuals Persecuted Under Nazism, the only monument about homocaust in Italy.  A visit should be done also to see the birthplace of Pier Paolo Pasolini in Via Borgonuovo 4. He was born in Bologna, and in this street people of Bologna remember this important film director, intellectually one the most important symbols of the Italian homosexual community.

Do you know what is one of the nicknames of the city? Italians call it, with a good reason, “La Grassa” meaning the Fat. Bologna is the perfect city for food lovers. It is the largest city in the Emilia Romagna region, one of the regions with a very strong food tradition in Italy. Here you can find real Parmigiano-Reggiano, Modena balsamic vinegar and prosciutto. No visit of the city is complete without a lunch or a dinner in one of the hundreds of Osterias to eat tortellini, lasagna, gnocco fritto and drinking a good glass of Lambrusco, a gorgeous sparkling red wine. For authentic fast food, grab a piadina (flatbread) with cheese, ham or salami in one of the numerous piadinerie around the city.

After sunset, you can start to enjoy the gay life in the city. Start drinking a Spritz and meeting some locals, Bologna people are very welcoming and have the best student vibrancy. Around the city there are plenty of bars, pubs, clubs, discos where you can have fun including the famous Red Club and the historic disco Kinky, which opened in 1982.

HIDDEN SPOTS

Bologna has many hidden treasures to discover and to fall in love with. Here you can find 3 spots to discover the hidden secrets of the city.

The Canal window in Via Piella

You might be surprised from the picturesque sights discovered simply by walking in the city. One of these is what people of Bologna call “La Finestrella di Via Piella”, a direct window to the ancient canal system of Bologna.

Bologna’s canals aren’t famous like the Venice ones, but there are at least 5 around the city. Many of these canals, built in the 12th century, were used to transport goods and carrying people. From Via Piella you can see a portion of Canale delle Moline with its water flowing between colored houses and brick walls.

Museum of Human Anatomy

The Istituto di Anatomia Umana Normale has a collection of some of the first wax anatomical models ever made. This creepy collection made from real bones, brains and skulls were used by students to study the human body.

In the Museum of Human Anatomy, you can also see numerous fetal skeletons and models of babies born without various organs.

Arrows in the ceiling

Walking through Corte Isolani you might see some people looking up. What are they looking for? Taking a closer look to see three arrows in the wood ceiling just upon your head.

The legend tells that three brigands intended on killing a old gentleman, but were distracted from a naked girl and their arrows were shot into the ceiling.

TOP MUSEUMS

There are more than fifty museums in Bologna and you can choose among classic museums or contemporary art museums. Here you can find some of the must-see museums in Bologna.

Pinacoteca di Bologna

Not far from the leaning towers of Bologna, Pinacoteca hosts Accademia delle Belle Arti and masterpieces from the Italian Renaissance period by Raphael, Perugino and Tintoretto.

ADDRESS Via delle Belle Arti, 56

WEBSITE  http://www.pinacotecabologna.beniculturali.it/

MAMbo

MAMbo is the Bologna Modern Art Museum dedicated to visual and experimental art. It hosts a Permanent Collection that traces the history of contemporary Italian art and temporary solo exhibitions both from Italian and international artists.

ADDRESS Via Don Minzoni, 14

WEBSITE www.mambo-bologna.org

Morandi Museum

Museo Morandi is one of the best-known museums in Bologna. Giorgio Morandi was a famous Bologna artist and painter and the exhibition in the museum documents the innovation of this artist.

ADDRESS Via Don Minzoni, 14

WEBSITE hwww.mambo-bologna.org/en/museomorandi/

Ducati Museum

For those who are in love with motors, this museum is mandatory. This museum hosts the history and future of Ducati and is divided among three different exhibition itineraries.

ADDRESS Via Antonio Cavalieri Ducati, 3, 40132 Borgo Panigale

WEBSITE www.ducati.com/ducati_museum/index.do

Orto Botanico

The Botanical Gardens are one of the oldest in Italy. They were founded in 1568 and the overall surface covers about two hectares. There are over five thousand examples of local and exotic plants cultivated here.

ADDRESS Via Irnerio, 42

WEBSITE www.sma.unibo.it/il-sistema-museale/orto-botanico-ed-erbario

BOLOGNA GAY NIGHTLIFE

Bologna has a lot to offer for nightlife. And for its university population the nightlife In Bologna starts at 7pm with a good aperitivo. Start drinking something with friends in one of the main bars around the city center.

There are many gay friendly bars that offer a proper aperitivo like Barattolo Cafè and MissVago. To enjoy the night, there are many clubs like RedClub, Bar’t or Kinky. Many of these places are private clubs and may require a membership card to enter.

NEARBY DESTINATIONS

Emilia Romagna is in the center of Italy and Bologna is for this reason it’s a good place to start with as you visit the region and cities near Bologna.  You can quite easily travel by train in every direction discovering the center of Italy.

Modena

Among the city of Emilia Romagna, Modena is one of the most fascinating cities. Ancient traditions, architectural wonders and culinary delights makes Modena the best destination for a one day trip from Bologna.

The symbol of the city is the Ghrilandina Tower in the center of Piazza Grande, which since 1997 has been declared Italy’s heritage site by UNESCO in 1997.  Make sure to try the balsamic vinegar and the local food products in one of the many osterias around the city.

Maranello

For those in love with Ferrari and Formula 1, Maranello is the place to be! This city is the seat of the Ferrari factory; you can visit the Ferrari Museum with its historical car models and see and one of several landmarks that characterize the city.

Rimini and Riviera coast

The Riviera Romagnola cost is the stretch of coast facing the Adriatic Sea located an hour’s drive from Bologna. Rimini, Ravenna and Cesenatico are beautiful places to spend a day enjoying the sun and the beaches.

Around these cities there are many thematic parks, so this is also the perfect place if you are looking for some high-adrenalin fun with friends!

San Marino

San Marino is the perfect destination to spend a nice day trip between history and beautiful natural scenery. In the independent state of San Marino, you can find the three towers, symbol of this ancient city-state, churches, palaces and square.

Enjoy the view of the valley from Liberty Square and discover the beauty of this city by its amazing buildings: the Library, the Titano Theatre, the State University and the State Museum that contains almost 5000 pieces of art.

BEFORE YOUR TRIP

Bologna has one main international airport: Guglielmo Marconi International Airport, located about six kilometers northwest of downtown Bologna. Bologna has a efficient public transportation system serving all destinations throughout the city.

Festivals and main events in Bologna

There are several festivals, holidays and events celebrated in Bologna each year. Here are the main ones:

  • January: ArteFiera
  • February: Carnival Festivities
  • March Cosmoprof (Beauty fair trade),
  • May Divergenti Festival Movie Queer Festival
  • June Pride Week and Parade, Par Tot Parade, Smau (Technological FairTrade)
  • October Fiera del Libro Book Fair
  • November Gender Bender Festival, Cioccoshow Chocolate Trade Show
  • December Motor Show, Christmas Market of St. Lucia

Visitors information

Once in Bologna, do not hesitate to contact tourism professionals for information and help in organizing your stay.

Ufficio di informazione e accoglienza turistica

ADDRESS : Piazza Maggiore, 1 – 40124 Bologna