The city of Bologna has been an Italian cultural hub for centuries. The value the city placed on education hundreds of years ago is what led to its cultural rise.
VIBRANT, independent and home to one of Europe’s oldest universities, BOLOGNA is a dynamic counterpoint to more popular, touristy cities like ROME and FLORENCE . About 50 miles north of Florence, the city is as famous for its cuisine as it is for its fiery left-leaning politics. Market stalls brimming with asparagus and fava beans, specialty shops selling cured meats, and osterias serving fresh pasta with the city’s signature ragù (known as Bolognese in the rest of the world) offer compelling reasons to linger along with the classic tortellini in brodo, delicate parcels of pasta filled with a pinch of minced pork and swimming in a fragrant chicken broth. And then there are architectural masterpieces like the church of Santo Stefano and the iconic Due Torri (Two Towers).
Bologna is known for its miles of portici, or covered terracotta arcades, and the 666 arches that lead to the Santuario della Madonna di San Luca , a basilica that sits perched above the metropolis, are a great introduction to a city icon. Start at the Meloncello gateway and wind up the hill — the half-hour trek is like a StairMaster session (a good activity before a weekend of eating) with views of the rolling countryside as well as the sprawling new part of the city with its office towers and burgeoning suburbs. At the top the payoff is the Unesco-heritage designated basilica with its painting of St. Mary, allegedly by Luke the Evangelist and, said by some to have been brought to Bologna from the Middle East in the 12th century.
In a museum on the top floor of the 14th-century Palazzo d’Accursio ( Bologna’s town hall ) you can admire the paintings of Giorgio Morandi a great contemporary painter who died in 1965 .