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Free Walking Tour Bologna

Seeing the city through the eyes of a local

Our Free Walking Tour runs every day at 11.00 am, meeting up in Piazza di Porta Ravegnana, at the Feltrinelli bookstore entrance

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Free Walking Tours

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Want to discover the city?! Want to have fun?!

Follow Free Walking Tour Bologna in an amazing walk discovering the thousands faces of a city which is a perfect destination in every season.

Not only history, arts and architecture, with this tour we will introduce you to the modern Bologna and seduce you with some food tips...

Click below and find out more about the tour!

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Private tours

Do you want to take a relaxed and intimate tour around Bologna city centre? Are you an organized group or tourist agency looking for a unique city-tour experience? 

This tour is Your Tour, specifically designed for those who wish to take a personal and direct contact with the city itself. We want to let you explore and discover the city beauties with our local professional guides.

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Food Tour Bologna

A food experience is a must when visiting Bologna; you can't skip the meeting with the balance of Emilia cuisine flavours. Let us introduce you to the "fat" city with our Food Tour "EAT BOLOGNA".

The tour includes a parmisan cheese tasting, panino with Mortadella, tagliatelle with bolognese ragù and a glass of wine.

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Looking for tips where to eat?!

Download our Food Tips Map

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Need info? Are you a guide and want to join us? Are you a group and need a personalized tour? Want to say Hi?? Simply write us!

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Free Walking Tour Bologna: All You Need to Know BEFORE You Go (with Photos)

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Overview of the tour in Bologna

The free walking tour of Bologna is for everyone: children, the elderly, people with reduced mobility, couples, families... Let's discover the city, I'll explain its secrets and I'll show you the most emblematic places. What are we going to discover? -It starts with Piazza Galvani -Then we will see Archiginnasio, the oldest university in the West. -Then we will see the church of Santa Maria de la Vita, Santo Stefano, the 2 towers, the palace of King Enzo, San Pietro, and the Finestrella del canale di Reno. Sign up for a different guided tour of the essential places in Bologna!

This activity includes:

  • Caffè Zanarini
  • Canale di Reno
  • Biblioteca Comunale dell'Archiginnasio
  • Basilica santuario Santo Stefano - Complesso delle sette chiese

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Piazza Galvani

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FREE WALKING TOUR BOLOGNA: All You Need to Know BEFORE You Go (with Photos)

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Bologna Free Tour

  • 9.20 / 10 1,712 reviews | 13,975 travellers We loved it, the wonderful guide and the very interesting and fun tour 10 Mireia

Discover  Bologna  with this  free tour  that'll take you into the heart of the  ‘Red City’.  You'll stroll its beautiful streets and visit its  most iconic landmarks.

The ancient Archiginnasio

At the established time, we'll meet at Piazza Galvani  and set off down the streets of Bologna to admire its most iconic architecture. We'll start at the Piazza Maggiore, considered one of the most beautiful squares in Europe and an important cultural gathering place since the Middle Ages. Did you know that it was once the scene of public executions?

In the Piazza Maggiore, we'll also find the Basilica of San Petronio , a key historical place where the coronation of Charles V took place. You'll learn all about this and other fascinating historical tidbits. This is one of the largest religious constructions in the world, but it's unfinished. Do you know why? Come find out!

Just a few meters away we'll find the Archiginnasio , the seat of the ancient University of Bologna , the oldest in the western world, which today is preserved as a public library with more than 35,000 works contained within its walls. 

We'll pass in front of the churches of Santa Maria della Vita and Santo Stefano on our way to the Two Towers , two emblematic medieval buildings that even have their own name: Asinelli and Garisenda , the undisputed icons of the city.

Then we'll admire the palace of King Enzo , and after an hour and a half, we'll end the tour close to the Reno river canal .

We're unable to accept reservations of more than 6 people. If you're a larger group, we recommend you book this  private tour of Bologna .

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1 hour 30 minutes.

The activity takes place with a guide that speaks in English.

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Bologna Map: Self-guided walking tour (2 hours in Bologna)

Posted on Last updated: February 1, 2023

Bologna Map : As I said in my previous post about Bologna , you really don’t need a map to explore the best of Bologna, as just wandering around the alleyways and looking up will give you a great experience. 

But with only a couple of hours to spare, you might want a Bologna map as a little support. Here’s mine, so you can do a self-guided walking tour if you only have 2 hours in Bologna, like I did. 

If you only have a short time to spend in Bologna, you might want to know in advance what exactly you could see and do. I walked around starting and finishing at the Bologna train station and feel I got a good glimpse of what the city center has to offer.

Bologna Map: Self-guided walking tour (2 hours in Bologna)

Bologna Map for a Self-guided Walking Tour

Here is my route for you to explore yourself. If you have any must-see sights, activities, bar/restaurants or shops to add, feel free to leave a comment!

From Bologna Airport to the city: take the Aerobus-BLQ shuttle (to the train station via the city center). It takes 20 minutes, costs 6 Euros and runs every 15 minutes from 5.30AM to 12.15AM. Easy!

1. Bologna Train Station & Porta Galliera

With your back to the train/ bus station, cross the road and turn left. Cross the open space (Piazza XX Settembre) and find the gate (Porta Galliera) in the middle of it. Go under the gate and you will see the book market. Keep going straight from now on. 

Bologna Map: Self-guided walking tour (2 hours in Bologna)

Porta Galliera: Erected between 1330 and 1333 to link roads and streams with the plain and with Ferrara. Renovated in 1926.

Bologna Map: Self-guided walking tour (2 hours in Bologna)

Between 2001 and 2003 renovation works of the area have revealed some ruins of different periods (from The Middle ages to the beginning of last century), now visible in a kind of open space archaeological park. 

Bologna Map: Self-guided walking tour (2 hours in Bologna)

2. Via Dell’Indipendenza

You are now on the Via dell’Indipendenza, pretty much the main road in Bologna. It’s a street lined with shopping and some great markets in the side alleys of it. Enjoy looking your eyes out and slow your pace (I found that hard in the beginning)

Keep going for a while, because at the very end of this street is the Piazza Nettuno, which you will recognize immediately by the Neptune fountain. 

Bologna Map: Self-guided walking tour (2 hours in Bologna)

3. Piazza Nettuno & Piazza Maggiore

The fountain of Neptune on the Piazza Nettuno was built between 1563 and 1566 by the Flemish sculptor Giambologna. It is a symbol of the power of the Pope: he ruled the world like Neptune ruled the seas. At the feet of the statue there are four little angels. They represent the rivers of the four discovered continents at that time: Ganges, Nile, Amazon River and Danube. 

Fountains are one of the things I love most about Italian cities, do you?

Bologna Map: Self-guided walking tour (2 hours in Bologna)

If you keep going, you’ll get to the adjacent Piazza Maggiore, where you’ll see the Basilica of San Petronio in front of you and the Palazzo d’Accursio o Comunale (Town Hall) on your right hand. 

Bologna Map: Self-guided walking tour (2 hours in Bologna)

The Basilica of St Petronio, honoring the eighth bishop of Bologna from 431 to 450, is the most imposing (132m long, 66m wide and 47m high) and the most important church in Bologna. Building started in 1390 under the supervision of the architect Antonio di Vincenzo, but was not finished until many hundred years later.

Bologna Map: Self-guided walking tour (2 hours in Bologna)

The Town Hall consists of a set of buildings, that over the centuries have gradually been joined. 

Bologna Map: Self-guided walking tour (2 hours in Bologna)

Renovated and expanded in the first half of the fifteenth century, with the help of Architect Fioravante Fioravanti, the Town Hall was enriched with a clock tower, that you can still see today.

4. Giardini di Piazza Minghetti

Around the square, there are plenty of options to have a drink or two. I walked past the Basilica on the left hand side, all the way to the end of it. There is a little square there (Piazza Galvani) and I turned left on the ‘Via Luigi Carlo Farini’, because it had pretty arches and I wanted to look at the purple ceilings of them. 

Going straight on from there, I took a quick photo at ‘Giardini di piazza Minghetti’ and kept on going until the arches changed to brick colour and I saw a pretty lamp post I stopped to look at. Then I continued on going straight…

Bologna Map: Self-guided walking tour (2 hours in Bologna)

Giardini di piazza Minghetti

Bologna Map: Self-guided walking tour (2 hours in Bologna)

I like lamp. 

5. Piazza Santo Stefano 

Thinking I might walk to far out of the city center, I turned left on the Via Santo Stefano, ending up on the Piazza Santo Stefano, where I found a nice buzz of people enjoying the sun. and of course the ‘Complesso di Santo Stefano’, a church complex that was the city’s sanctuary. The complex represents a symbolic rebuilding of the Passion of Christ’s places. 

Bologna Map: Self-guided walking tour (2 hours in Bologna)

With my back to the church, I continue walking under the arches towards the end of the Via Santo Stefano. 

6. Casa Isolani

When I see the entrance of a little alley on my right, I go into it and discover a small, almost secret underground lane way with shops and restaurants. The ceiling is made of wood and looks incredible. 

Getting to the end of it, I discover this is part of ‘Casa Isolani’, one of the rare examples of civilian buildings from the 13th century. When you look up at the end of the lane way, you’ll see an arcade supported by 9 meter tall oak beams, holding the third story of the building. 

Bologna Map: Self-guided walking tour (2 hours in Bologna)

7. Le Due Torri

I turn left and follow the ‘Stada Maggiore’ until I see the ‘Due Torri’. These two towers are the traditional symbol of Bologna and they stand at the strategic point where the old Aemilian way entered the town.  

Bologna Map: Self-guided walking tour (2 hours in Bologna)

I make a left to have a look at the building above, then turn into the Via Caprarie (left if you stand with your back to the building)

8. Piazza Re Enzo

Getting a bit peckish after seeing so much pasta in the windows of the restaurants as I walk towards the ‘Piazza Re Enzo’ (take a right to get there, but you will see the palace), I decide it’s time for a bit of lunch. 

Bologna Map: Self-guided walking tour (2 hours in Bologna)

Also called ‘new palace’, the King Enzo Palace was built between 1244-1246 as an extension of the municipal buildings. Just three years later it became the ‘residence’ of the King taken prisoner in the battle of Fossalta.

9. Via Dell’Indipendenza to the Train Station

With a left on the ‘Via Rizollo’ and another right, I find myself back on the Via Dell’Indipendenza, the big shopping street where I started. Sweet! 

As I walk on straight ahead, I look all around me to soak in the last bits of this pretty city:

Bologna Map: Self-guided walking tour (2 hours in Bologna)

Garibaldi statue just before the Piazza Dell’8 Agosto

Bologna Map: Self-guided walking tour (2 hours in Bologna)

Market at Piazza Dell’8 Agosto

Bologna Map: Self-guided walking tour (2 hours in Bologna)

Back to the Piazza XX Settembre

 *** Bonus Stop

When you’ve successfully completed your self-guided walking tour with this Bologna Map, you can congratulate yourself by getting a yummy gelato in the building in front of the train station (just before you cross the road). You’ve earned it!

Bologna Map: Self-guided walking tour (2 hours in Bologna)

I can recommend the cherry flavoured one!

That’s all folks. Have fun! And if you have more time to spare than 2 hours, remember: ditch the map and just stroll around for the best Bologna experience :)

Have you ever visited Bologna? What did you like best or what do you want to experience?

Sunday 9th of July 2023

Great tour and commentary. Perfect

Friday 4th of August 2017

Thanks for the reply! So we just came back from there and I am now in love with the city! I think we managed to visit the main points, however, I would like to go back for more than 2 days, so I will have the possibility to walk and lost in all those small streets and great bordures with amazing ceilings and marble floors. Simply like in a fairy tail!

Nienke Krook

Wednesday 30th of August 2017

Ahw, that's so great to hear Aglika! It's a great place in Italy and you could walk around the streets for weeks, for sure! Hope you get to come back one day...

Tuesday 18th of July 2017

Nice article! The English guide is not inside, unfortunately - could you upload it, maybe? It doesn't appear on the redirected page as well. :( I was thinking to follow your tips for our trip in Bologna. :)

Thursday 27th of July 2017

Hi Aglika, sorry about the state of this post, we're currently fixing all our old blog posts and have about 500 left to go, ah! The little pocket guide is not available anymore unfortunately, but basically it's the same info as in this post. Hope you have a great time in Italy! Any questions, let me know, I've just been to Bologna!!

Monday 5th of June 2017

I live not far from the bus and train stations, near the park, so I know the route well. It is important to know that the book market you mentioned at the start is seasonal and isn't currently going. It stops during the warmer summer months but runs early spring and then in the autumn. And unfortunately, the Neptune statue is currently undergoing renovation, though you can get guided tours on certain days through the Bologna Welcome tourism offices that are next to the fountain.

Sunday 11th of June 2017

That are some great tips Alison, thanks for sharing that! I will be back in Bologna soon, so good to know this!! Can't wait to explore more of this amazing place, you are lucky to live here, for sure!

Monday 5th of September 2016

Hello Nienke! Cool article and website. I lived in Bologna for a while, it's great to see that you nailed all the best attractions in such a short time! If you and Nick ever come to Budapest, I'll be happy to meet you guys :) Cheers!

Ah, I love Bologna! Budapest we haven't been yet, so would be great to meet you once we get there! Thanks for your comment!

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BOLOGNA FREE WALKING TOUR

The walking tour that unveils Bologna's secrets!

Our "free-tours concept" are based solely on donations .

The JM Walkingtour project is dedicated to all those who, thanks to our guided visits, wish to get to know the cities and at the same time contribute to the fundraising for the removal of architectural barriers which hamper the day-to-day life of people with disabilities.

Our volunteers are authorized no-profit guides and carry out their tasks for free, in favor of all those joining the program; the love for their own city and their art-historical competences make our tours unique.

We are strongly convinced, and this is why at the end of the tour we will ask you for a donation , that a remuneration in exchange for a bit of extra knowledge would be fair and gratifying for all. Thank you for your generous contribution.

This tour is accessible to people with reduced mobility , it is ideal for families with children and strollers, or for those who do not want to be separated from their four-legged friends.

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Bologna free walking tour presentation.

Bologna was the first city in Europe to open a University almost 1000 years ago, and we are proud of it. Strolling around together, going from a square to the other, you will discover harmonies and contrasts in its different architectural styles as the amazing Torri degli Asinelli , with their breathtaking panoramic views, the famous arcades that alternate dimmed lights and soft shadows connecting open spaces together, the imposing sculptures made in terracotta which decorate churches, museums e private mansions.

Bologna also boasts many primacies, among which the San Petronio sundial , built by Egnazio Danti in the XVI century, as well as the first experiments conducted by Guglielmini from the Asinelli Tower, demonstrating the rotatory motion of our planet.

Even its cuisine is a symphony of exquisite colors and flavors , each "composed" with the right proportions, just imagine that the original recipe for the Bolognese sauce has been filed in the city's Chamber of Commerce. By presenting the millenary history and the art of Bologna, our local guide will lead you and dwell on hidden details that would normally remain unnoticed.

From the Church of San Petronio in Piazza Maggiore, to the Torri degli Asinelli, from the Jewish Ghetto to the hidden canals which cross the city, you will discover the habits, the anecdotes and the traditions of our wonderful Bologna . You will get to know the unique lifestyle of its inhabitants, also through their political belief and popular symphonies, which have made of Bologna the capital of music in 2006.

The meeting point is located in Via dell'Indipendenza , next to the statue of Garibaldi, where you will find our guide waiting for you, with the JM Walking tour sign.

How does Bologna Walking Tour work?

Please arrive 15 minutes early , so that we may start the visit on time.

There will be no breaks during our tours , we therefore suggest to wear comfortable clothes depending on the season, to wear trainers, and to carry a bottle of water with you.

Do not forget to bring an umbrella in the event of rain or sun during hot summer days.

The itinerary may vary due to weather conditions.

The tour will take place exclusively on foot and may include a maximum of 20 participants.

The tour lasts about two hours and consists of a 2 kilometers long walk ending at the Vecchia Fontana.

In order to make the most out of our suggestions, we suggest to attend the JM tour at the beginning of your stay.

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Self-Guided Walking Tour of Bologna (With Maps!)

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Italy is renowned for its captivating cities and towns, but none compare to the breathtaking beauty of Bologna. This enchanting city boasts miles of medieval porticoes, recognized as a UNESCO heritage site, adorning the streets with a captivating interplay of light, shadows, and architectural splendor. Adding to Bologna’s allure are the terracotta buildings that grace the old town, earning it the nickname “La Rossa” (The Red).

At the heart of this remarkable destination lies the majestic Piazza Maggiore, a central square surrounded by significant medieval structures, including the Basilica of San Petronio, Palazzo del Podestà, Palazzo Comunale, Palazzo dei Notai, and Palazzo dei Banchi. Just a stone’s throw away from Piazza Maggiore, one can wander through blocks of picturesque streets bursting with vibrant colors. Among these charming lanes lies the delightful market district of Quadrilatero.

Arriving at Bologna by Car: Much of the old town is part of the  ZTL , the  limited traffic zone  and that the access points of the ZTL are  monitored by cameras so you will probably want to park outside the old city and walk in. I suggest parking at Parking Tanari , good value and positioned near the train station.

Arriving at Bologna by Train: The train station of Bologna, from which run both regional and long-distance trains, is located in the centre. Consider it is basically attached to via Indipendenza, the shopping street of Bologna, and about 15 minutes walk from Piazza Maggiore.

Fontana Vecchia (Old Fountain)

Bologna Fontana Vecchia

From the Train Station: Walk out of Bologna Centrale’s main entrance and turn left. Turn right onto the first major street, Via dell’Independenza. Continue for about 15-20 minutes and the street will dead-end at a large piazza; there, just before you enter the piazza, turn right on Via Ugo Bassi and walk about half a block to reach the Fontana Vecchia.

Our tour begins at Fontana Vecchia. From here, you can admire the external walls of the ancient fortress, gaining a glimpse into the medieval era when the city of Bologna was frequently besieged. The roots of Bologna’s settlement date back to around 1,000 B.C.E., with the Etruscans establishing the first urban centre known as “Velza” (or “Felsina” in Latin) in 534 B.C.E. Throughout history, the region experienced conquests by the Celts and Gauls, eventually becoming a Roman colony called “Bononia” in 189 B.C.E.

In 88 B.C.E., Bologna evolved into a municipality, but it faced significant challenges following the decline of the Roman Empire. However, in the 5th Century, the city underwent reconstruction and emerged as a pivotal crossroads for transportation in medieval Europe. Resembling Venice, Bologna boasted an extensive canal system and played a vital role in trade, banking, and finance. The prestigious university, established in 1088, attracted a diverse international population and continues to educate approximately 80,000 enrolled students each year.

Commissioned by Cardinal Legate Carlo Borromeo, who would later become Pope Pius IV, the Old Fountain (Fontana Vecchia) was designed in 1563 by the esteemed sculptor and architect Tommaso Laureti from Palermo, Sicily. The construction of the fountain was overseen by Vicelegate Pier Donato Cesi. Its purpose was to provide the public with a water source, discouraging them from using the Fountain of Neptune.

According to a plaque nearby, it is believed that the vendors from the bustling Piazza Maggiore market would clean their vegetables in the Fountain of Neptune, making the presence of the Fontana Vecchia even more significant in ensuring a separate water supply for the general population.

Fountain of Neptune (Fontana del Nettuno)

Fontana Del Nettuno E Palazzo Re Enzo

Walk to the east along Ugo Bassi (in the direction of the large tower) and stop when you reach the giant Neptune fountain in the main square.

Crafted between 1563 and 1566, the Fountain of Neptune (Fontana del Nettuno) stands as a masterpiece created by the skilled Flemish sculptor Giambologna. This remarkable fountain portrays Neptune, the mighty sea god, symbolizing the immense power of the Pope, who, like Neptune, reigned over the world. Nestled at the feet of Neptune are four angelic sculptures representing the rivers of the four continents recognized during the Renaissance: the Ganges, the Nile, the Amazon, and the Danube.

The commission for the Fountain of Neptune also included the design of its base, which was entrusted to Tommaso Laureti by Pope Pius IV. Adjacent to the fountain, you will find a smaller fountain from which potable water flows, offering a refreshing drink to quench your thirst.

It is widely known that the figure of Neptune in the fountain holds a rather assertive pose. According to legend, during the sculpture’s creation, the Pope expressed dissatisfaction with the size of Neptune’s genitals and requested Giambologna to diminish their prominence. Reluctantly, Giambologna complied with the Pope’s request. However, as a subtle act of retaliation, he altered the positioning of Neptune’s left arm, extending the thumb and index finger. The outcome of this alteration becomes apparent on sunny days when standing behind Neptune, as the elongated shadow cast by the arm takes on a phallic shape, playfully implying a sense of excitement, so to speak…

Palazzo Re Enzo

Palazzo Re Enzo Bologna

To the left of the statue of Neptune is the Palazzo Re Enzo.

Constructed in 1246, Palazzo Re Enzo served as the notorious prison where King Enzo, also known as Emperor Frederick II of Swabia, was held captive for a staggering period of more than twenty-three years. Over the centuries, the building underwent embellishments and expansions, eventually acquiring its current form following the meticulous restoration carried out by Alfonso Rubbiani in the early twentieth century. Rubbiani’s efforts successfully revived the palazzo’s authentic medieval essence, reinstating its original medieval aesthetic.

Entrance to the building is only possible when events are being held.

Monument to Fallen Partisans

Biblioteca Sala Borsa

To the right of the Fontana del Nettuno is the Sacrario dei Caduti della Resistenza per le Libertà e la Giustizia or Monument to Fallen Partisans.

On the left side of the library entrance stands Bologna’s Memorial to the Resistance, a tribute to “The Fallen from the Resistance for the Liberty and Justice, the Honour and Independence, of the Homeland.” Erected in 1961, the monument bears the dedication “To the children, women, and men of every race and nationality whom the Nazi brutality killed in internment camps.”

Bologna played a significant role as a stronghold of the Italian Resistance between September 8, 1943, and April 25, 1945. The memorial encompasses the names and portraits of Bolognese individuals who lost their lives during this heroic struggle. Additionally, it provides historical insights into the Bolognese partisan brigades. The central panel features photographs capturing the brave partisan fighters liberating Bologna in 1945.

Bologna’s contribution to the Resistance movement was profound, with 14,425 partisan fighters produced, including 2,212 women. Sadly, 2,059 partisans were killed, 945 were injured, and 6,543 were arrested. Retaliation for their involvement led to the execution of approximately 2,350 partisans by firing squad. Moreover, Bologna suffered extensive damage from Allied bombing campaigns due to its importance as an industrial hub involved in the construction of trains and machinery. The civilian population also experienced significant casualties as a result.

Biblioteca Salaborsa

Biblioteca Salaborsa

To the right of the Monument to Fallen Partisans is the entrance to the Salaborsa. Head inside to the public library and multi-media centre that opened in 2001. Head straight through the circular entryway and stop in the main atrium with the painted ceilings.

The name “Salaborsa” derives from its historical association with the borsa, or financial exchange market, that used to operate in this very location. Today, the building serves as a custodian of the city’s cultural heritage. Its magnificent atrium, bathed in natural light and adorned with painted ceiling motifs, is a popular spot where local professionals often pause for an afternoon coffee. When standing in the middle of the atrium and looking downward, you’ll notice that the floor is transparent, offering a glimpse into a Roman excavation site below. Visitors have the opportunity to freely explore this site. As you turn around to face the exit, you’ll find stairs and an elevator on your right, leading to the basement level. Descending the stairs and turning right will bring you to the entrance of the Archaeological Excavations (Scavi Archeologici). Inside the archaeological site, informative plaques in both Italian and English provide valuable insights.

Piazza Maggiore

Piazza Maggiore Bologna

As you exit Salaborsa, the large square before you is known as Piazza Maggiore or Main Square.

Piazza Maggiore, the vibrant heart of the city, has embodied Bologna’s political and social life since its inception in the 13th century. As the square and its surrounding structures took shape, it became a symbolic epicenter. Today, it stands as one of Italy’s largest and oldest squares. Throughout history, this bustling square has served as a gathering place for citizens, who convened to hear the proclamation of new laws and witness capital executions. Moreover, Piazza Maggiore was once home to one of Europe’s most significant open-air markets, which thrived until the mid-1800s, attracting goods from all corners of the world.

The building to your right is the Palazzo d’Accursio, the Town hall complex dating from the 14th century, which is home to a fresco-filled chapel & fine art museum. Next to this, in front of you is the Palazzo dei Notai, built in the period 1384-1422 on a project by Antonio di Vincenzo. Next is the Basilica di San Petronio, which was begun to be built in 1390 on a project by Antonio di Vincenzo and although still unfinished, represents a splendid example of Italian Gothic and one of the most impressive Italian churches. Diagonally opposite you is the Palazzo dei Banchi which was the historic seat of the money changers and bankers, was built in 1412 and in 1568, after the restoration work based on a project by Vignola, the underlying portico was built, nicknamed by the Bolognese “Pavaglione”. Currently the arcade is occupied by glittering shop windows.

Palazzo D’Accursio

Palazzo D’Accursio Bologna

Once you enter the palazzo’s courtyard, head back to the right and you will find a large open ramp with raised curbs acting as steps. Continue up the stairs to the first floor.

Palazzo D’Accursio, the city’s town hall and residence of the City Art Collection, holds a rich history. The oldest section of the building came under city ownership in 1287, and subsequent renovations took place during the 17th and 18th centuries.

On the first floor you will find the impressive Hercules’ Hall (Sala d’Ercole), named after the magnificent bronze terracotta sculpture “Hercules Killing the Hydra” (“Ercole che Uccide l’Idra”) by Alfonso Lombardi, created in 1519 and displayed against the rear wall. Today, this room serves as a public art space where both modern and classical works are exhibited free of charge.

To the right of the Hercules statue, you will discover the City Council Chambers (Sala del Consiglio Comunale), previously known as the Senate Gallery (Galleria del Senato). In 1676, Angelo Michele Colonna and his apprentice Giocchino Pizzoli adorned the walls and ceiling with remarkable frescoes. These works are hailed as exemplars of the Baroque quadratura style, closely associated with the Bologna School. The artists skilfully employed perspective to create mesmerizing illusions of landscapes and vistas. One wall proudly presents the town’s coat of arms, supported by the virtues of Concord and Loyalty, symbolizing local and papal authority. Meanwhile, the central vault depicts allegorical figures from classical mythology, representing the essence of Bologna.

Proceed to leave Hercules Hall and make a right turn. Once you reach the end of the hallway, you will notice another set of semi-elevated steps on your left side. Ascend these stairs to reach the second floor.

The splendid ceremonial hall where you currently find yourself is named “Farnese Hall” or “Sala Farnese,” paying tribute to one of Italy’s renowned noble families. Adorning the walls are frescoes illustrating the glorious era of Papal dominance over the town. Positioned at the rear of the hall is a magnificent marble statue of Pope Paul III Farnese, placed between two expansive windows that offer captivating views of Piazza Maggiore.

To the right side of the hall, you will discover an entrance leading to the Farnese Chapel, an esteemed ceremonial location within the city. This architectural gem, constructed in the 15th century by the talented Aristotle Fioravanti, was adorned with frescoes in 1562. The chapel underwent a recent restoration in 1992, preserving its splendor for visitors to appreciate.

On the back left corner of the hall, you will encounter the entrance to the Collezioni Comunali d’Arte, a municipal art museum established in 1936 within the former chambers of the papal legate. To access the museum ticket office and bookstore, simply look across from the entrance, situated on the right side.

Basilica di San Petronio

Basilica Di San Petronio Bologna

As you exit Palazzo D’Accursio the Basilica di San Petronio is diagonally opposite you.

It often appears that every Italian city boasts a pair of prominent churches—an ancient basilica and a Baroque-style church. As a national tradition, each city takes pride in highlighting something exceptional or distinctive about its own churches. Bologna, despite its relatively small size, showcases an astonishing array of colossal churches, with the most renowned being the Basilica di San Petronio, which gracefully dominates Piazza Maggiore. This grand structure was erected as a tribute to Bologna’s patron saint, Petronius, with construction taking place primarily between 1390 and 1479.

One notable feature of the Basilica is its unfinished façade. Initially, the Basilica di San Petronio was conceived as a civic endeavour rather than solely a religious edifice, intended to showcase Bologna’s municipal power. In 1514, work commenced on the elaborate marble façade, aiming to rival the grandeur of Saint Peter’s Basilica in Rome. However, when the Pope learned of this ambitious project, he exercised his papal authority to cease its funding. As a result, construction halted when the façade was only about one-third complete. Despite several subsequent attempts to finalize the façade, it remains unfinished to this day. The basilica was eventually entrusted to the diocese in 1929 and consecrated in 1954. In 2000, the relics of San Petronio were relocated there from Santo Stefano (stop 8 on the tour).

Upon entering the Basilica, you will encounter a central altar and choral area encircled by 22 smaller chapels. Bologna held a significant position as a hub of Baroque music in Italy, and San Petronio, in particular, gained renown for its choral and instrumental compositions. The basilica houses two organs, completed in 1476 and 1596, which are still played to this day. Additionally, the basilica’s library houses an extensive music archive.

Located on the ground to your left, you will notice a Meridian line meticulously embedded into the floor, serving as a sundial since its creation in 1655. Renowned astronomer and professor at the University of Bologna, Giovanni Domenico Cassini, calculated and designed this sundial, which, due to its remarkable length, boasted an exceptional level of precision for its era.

Another captivating area, easily overlooked, is the Basilica Museum tucked away at the far end of the church on the left side. Within the museum, you will encounter intricate models and depictions of the Basilica, precious religious artifacts, and exquisitely adorned manuscripts exhibited in glass cases.

Positioned at the back right, behind the altar, you will discover a remarkable Pieta crafted by Amico Aspertini, a prominent figure in the Bolognese School of painting during the 16th century.

Santuario di Santa Maria della Vita

Oratorio Dei Battuti, Santa Maria Della Vita, Bologna

Upon leaving the Basilica di San Petronio, make an instant right turn and proceed across the bustling piazza. Continue along Via Clavature, the thoroughfare that extends from the piazza. After a brief stroll of approximately half a block, you will find the Santuario di Santa Maria della Vita situated on your left-hand side.

Santuario di Santa Maria della Vita, a splendid Baroque church, is lovingly preserved by a private museum group as part of the cultural series known as Genus Bononiae. Its origins trace back to the 13th century when a congregation of Flagellants, known for their self-flagellation and rigorous discipline, founded a church and hospital in 1287. This sacred place was named “Saint Maria of Life.” The church underwent reconstruction around 1690, with the addition of Giuseppe Tubertini’s graceful dome in 1787. Today, a portion of the church serves as an art museum, showcasing pieces related to health and healing, while the former hospital once stood across the street.

To the right of the altar, adorned with the depiction of the Madonna of Life, resides a terracotta masterpiece titled “Compianto sul Cristo” (Lamentation of Christ) crafted by Niccolò dell’Arca. Niccolò initiated his work on these figures in 1463. The composition portrays Joseph, Mary Salome, the Virgin Mary, Saint John, Mary of Cleophas, and Mary Magdalene gathered around Jesus’ body in mourning. The anguish vividly displayed on the faces of these figures has led many to believe that Niccolò derived inspiration from the actual suffering of patients in the hospital. Pilgrims would visit the Compianto to offer prayers for the sick and dying, and their donations during Easter played a pivotal role in funding the hospital and maintaining the sanctuary throughout the following year.

On the left side of the church, a doorway grants access to the hospital museum. Upstairs, the Oratorio hosts another terracotta masterpiece titled “Transito della Vergine” (Passage of the Virgins) sculpted by Alfonso Lombardi between 1519 and 1522. The fifteen statues, slightly larger than life-size, vividly depict a dramatic scene from the Funeral of the Virgins, as described in Jacobus de Voragine’s “Legenda Aurea.”

Teatro Anatomico & Biblioteca Comunale dell’Archiginnasio

Archiginnasio Ora Blu Bologna

Upon leaving Santa Maria, make a right turn and head back towards Piazza Maggiore. Before reaching San Petronio, take the first left onto Via Archiginnasio. Continue along Via Archiginnasio, with San Petronio on your right side, until you reach the conclusion of the basilica. On your left-hand side, you will find the entrance to the Palazzo dell’Archiginnasio. Step inside to enter the courtyard.

Palazzo dell’Archiginnasio served as the esteemed headquarters of the University of Bologna from the 1500s until 1803. Founded in 1088, the University of Bologna holds the distinction of being the oldest university in Europe and the oldest operating university worldwide. As you explore the halls encircling the palazzo’s courtyard, you will be captivated by the splendid decorations, featuring inscriptions and monuments paying homage to the university’s esteemed educators. Thousands of coats of arms and student names also adorn the walls.

To access the first floor, ascend the stairs located on your left-hand side. Directly ahead, you will encounter the Civic Library, which has been housed in the palazzo since 1838. The library offers study rooms open to the public, where you can spend time if you securely store your belongings in a locker and present identification (un documento) to the clerk at the study hall entrance. However, the main attractions drawing visitors are the Sala dello Stabat Mater, the original hall of judges, and the wooden Anatomical Theatre constructed in 1637 for anatomy lessons. In the theatre, a technician would dissect a cadaver on the central viewing table, while the professor stood at the lectern on the far side, providing explanations to the students. The renowned Spellati (“Skinless”) statues by Erole Lelli, located on either side of the lectern, were instrumental in facilitating the professor’s teachings. Descriptions in English detailing the art and monuments within the Palazzo dell’Archiginnasio are available and provide excellent insights for visitors.

Complesso di Santo Stefano

Basiica Di Santo Stefano Bologna

Exit the Archiginnasio and make a left turn. Continue walking past the designer clothing stores until you reach the first significant street, Via Luigi Farini. Take a left onto Via Luigi Farini without crossing the street. Keep walking until you arrive at the charming Piazza Minghetti, adorned with several stunning buildings and tall trees. This square provides an excellent setting for a leisurely lunch or a delightful coffee break.

Cut through Piazza Minghetti and turn left onto Via Castiglione. You will easily identify the Museum of the History of Bologna (Museo di Storia di Bologna, or MSB) directly in front of you, confirming that you are on the correct path.

From Via Castiglione, take the first right onto Via Sampieri, and then make the next right onto Via Santo Stefano. As you proceed, the Santo Stefano complex will come into view, positioned directly ahead of you.

Santo Stefano, an architectural ensemble initiated by Bishop Petronio in the late 5th century, stands as a remarkable complex. It is said to have been constructed atop an ancient temple dedicated to Isis, and there are indications that it was intended as a replica of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem. Over time, the complex underwent further development between the 5th and 8th centuries.

Upon entering the complex, the initial structure you encounter is the Crocifisso, featuring a crypt dating back to 1019 and housing precious works of art. The second building, known as the Calvario, takes a circular form and once held the remains of Saint Petronio, accompanied by a reproduction of Christ’s tomb. The third church, named Agricola, encompasses the ancient burial sites of Saint Vitale and Saint Agricola. As you explore the complex, you will encounter a diverse range of architectural styles inspired by Roman and Byzantine influences. The complex also includes a courtyard known as Pilato’s Courtyard, the Trinità church, and a Benedictine cloister. A museum within the complex showcases a collection of paintings, sculptures, and other artistic masterpieces.

The Two Towers: Garisenda and Degli Asinelli

The Two Tower Garisenda And Degli Asinelli

Retrace your steps towards the front of Santo Stefano and continue walking in the same direction. On your right, you will come across a charming shopping alley known as Corte Isolani. Proceed through Corte Isolani, immersing yourself in its inviting atmosphere, and then make a left turn onto Strada Maggiore. Follow Strada Maggiore as you continue your journey. Keep walking along Strada Maggiore until you arrive at the lively piazza adorned with two iconic towers, known as Piazza della Mercanzia.

During the medieval era, the landscape of Bologna was characterized by the presence of approximately 180 towers, constructed by noble families to safeguard themselves against external threats and assert their authority and influence within the region. While only around 20 towers remain today, repurposed as restaurants and bed and breakfast establishments, the city’s most renowned towers are the Two Towers (Due Torri) of Asinelli and Garisenda. These iconic structures are located just a five-minute walk east of Piazza Maggiore, at the end of Via Vittorio.

Adjacent to the towers stands the Statue of San Petronio, the patron saint of Bologna. Though limited information is available about San Petronio, it is known that he played a pivotal role in the city’s reconstruction during the 5th century, with Santo Stefano being among his notable projects. The plaque on the statue highlights how the square served as the crossroads of Bologna’s most important streets, strategically positioned near the Roman road known as the Aemilian Way, making it a hub of financial and banking activities.

Once you have admired San Petronio, consider ascending the taller tower, Torre Asinelli, to enjoy a panoramic view of the city. Access the tower through the rear entrance and pay a fee of 3 euros (cash only) to gaze upon the many sites you have recently visited. The towers are believed to have been constructed between 1109 and 1119. While Torre Garisenda may appear smaller in comparison, it is immortalized through mentions in Dante’s Divine Comedy. Additionally, the base of Torre Asinelli houses a charming shop offering handmade jewelry, ceramics, and other locally crafted products.

Finestrella di Via Piella

Finestrella Di Via Piella

Walk away from the towers up Via Rizzoli, turning first right onto Via Guglielmo Oberdan. You are now walking through the Old Jewish Ghetto with its small cobbled and paved streets. Take the 6th turning on your left onto Via Bertiera.

The first turning on your right takes you under the Torresotto Porta Govese which belongs to the second circle of walls, begun in the late 12th century. On the side of the tower there is a Madonna with saints by Francesco Brizio from the 17th century.

Bologna boasts a comprehensive network of canals, constructed during the 12th and 13th centuries to establish a connection between the city and the Po River. While the majority of these canals now flow underground, remnants of their presence can still be observed in various areas of the city. Next to Trattoria dal Biassanot, situated at Via Piella, 16, there are windows that offer glimpses of the canals on both sides of the street.

Carry on down Via Piella until you come to the Parco della Montagnola, cross diagonally left across it back to Via dell’Indipendence.

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The often overlooked city of Bologna, located in the northern Italian region of Emilia Romagna, is currently experiencing a surge in popularity. Historically, it has lived in the shadow of its more famous neighbouring cities like Florence, Rome, Venice, and Milan.

Emilia Romagna, Italy: 7-Days Itinerary

Emilia Romagna, Italy: 7-Days Itinerary

Emilia Romagna is a region of unparalleled beauty, boasting a rich tapestry of history, art, and architecture. Its allure extends to its pristine beaches, vibrant local towns, picturesque landscapes, and the finest culinary delights Italy has to offer.

Self Guided Walking Tour of San Marino (With Maps!)

Self Guided Walking Tour of San Marino (With Maps!)

The Republic of San Marino is one of the world’s smallest countries, nestled in the heart of Italy and bordered by the regions of Emilia Romagna and Marche. Despite its diminutive size, with a population of around 30,000 inhabitants, San Marino is an independent nation.

Self-Guided Walking Tour of Bologna (With Maps!)

Italy is renowned for its captivating cities and towns, but none compare to the breathtaking beauty of Bologna. This enchanting city boasts miles of medieval porticoes, recognized as a UNESCO heritage site, adorning the streets with a captivating interplay of light, shadows, and architectural splendor.

Free Walking Tour Bologna

free walking tour bologna

Free walking tour Bologna takes you to discover the city of Bologna, located in the Emilia-Romagna region of Italy, is known for its rich cultural heritage and delicious cuisine. The city is home to numerous historic landmarks, including the Two Towers, the San Petronio Basilica, and the University of Bologna, the oldest university in the world. Bologna is famous for its cuisine, including traditional dishes such as tortellini and lasagna, and is a hub for food lovers. The city is also home to many art galleries, museums, and theaters, offering plenty of opportunities for cultural experiences. Bologna is a vibrant and lively city with a rich history and plenty of attractions for visitors to enjoy.

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free walking tours bologna

Meet your guide at Piazza Maggiore

11:00 hrs / 18:00 hrs

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Free Walking Tour Bologna – Itinerary

Free walking tour Bologna starts at Piazza Maggiore, one of the largest and most famous public squares in Bologna. This stunning square is surrounded by elegant buildings, including the Palazzo Comunale, the former town hall, and the magnificent Basilica di San Petronio, a beautiful Gothic church.  

Next, head to the historic heart of the city, the Quadrilatero, a maze of narrow streets and colorful buildings that is home to many of Bologna’s best shops, cafes, and restaurants. This charming neighborhood is a great place to wander, take in the sights, and sample some of the city’s delicious food.

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From the Quadrilatero, make your way to the Torre degli Asinelli, one of Bologna’s two famous leaning towers. This towering structure is one of the tallest medieval towers in the world and offers stunning views of the city and its surroundings.  

Next, visit the Bologna University, one of the oldest and most prestigious universities in the world. This historic institution was founded in the 11th century and is home to many of Italy’s most important academic and cultural institutions.  

As you continue your tour, be sure to stop by the beautiful Chiesa di San Domenico, a stunning Gothic church that is one of the most important landmarks in Bologna. This historic church is known for its beautiful frescoes, intricate carvings, and stunning stained-glass windows.  

Finally, end your tour at the Piazza Santo Stefano, a charming square surrounded by historic buildings, including the beautiful Basilica di Santo Stefano, a stunning Romanesque church that is one of the most important landmarks in Bologna. This charming square is a great place to relax, take in the sights, and enjoy a delicious meal or a refreshing drink.

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On the 28th November we celebrate the Giving Tuesday. It was created in 2012 as a simple idea: a day that encourages people to do good. Since then, it has grown into a year-round global movement that inspires hundreds of millions...

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Want to discover the city?! Want to have fun?!

Dear travellers, welcome to Verona!

With our professional guides, you will be introduced to our lovely Verona “the city of love”! In just two hours you will learn about historical facts and novels of the city.

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WALK Verona - Your Private Tour

Verona is truly the city of the lovers…therefore let the love carry you through the city, let’s imagine to live in those years in which Romeo and Juliet thought for their love. Let’s dive in Verona’s narrow streets and open squares to unveal step by step the political intrigues, the subterfuges and love scandals of the city. Who knows if the love between You and Verona will born!

This tour is Your Tour, specifically designed for those who wish to take a personal and direct contact with the city itself. We want to let you explore and discover the city beauties with our local professional guides.

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EAT Verona - Your Street Food Experience

Everybody knows about Verona wines! Vinitaly fair, Valpolicella, Bardolino, don't they sound familiar to you? Wine tradition here is as old as the city itself, which, they say, was already famous throughout the Roman empire for its canteens. Local people used to organize unforgettable party with the only purpose of eating and drinking. No matter if they were nobles or poors, locals or foreigners, once at the party, they would eat and drink till they faint. If you got here, you should know it well. If not, you will learn. Welcome to the craddle of good wine and food. By joining our EAT Verona - Street Food Tour you will have the opportunity to taste delicious local products while walking through an amazing part of the town, situated apart from the usual tourist attractions.

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    1. Bologna Train Station & Porta Galliera With your back to the train/ bus station, cross the road and turn left. Cross the open space (Piazza XX Settembre) and find the gate (Porta Galliera) in the middle of it. Go under the gate and you will see the book market. Keep going straight from now on.

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    Hola! Mi nombre es Sabrina y el próximo mes de noviembre viajaré con mi pareja a Boloña. He estado buscando free tours o free walking tours en español pero no me aparece ninguno, todos son en inglés. Alguien podría decirme si esto es cierto o, en caso de que no lo sea, podría decirme qué compañía los realiza? Gracias de antemano, Un ...

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    Bologna free walking tour takes you to discover the city of Bologna, located in the Emilia-Romagna region of Italy, is known for its rich cultural heritage and delicious cuisine. The city is home to numerous historic landmarks, including the Two Towers, the San Petronio Basilica, and the University of Bologna, the oldest university in the world ...

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    THE FIRST AND ORIGINAL FREE WALKING TOUR IN BOLOGNA, since 2017! When: Everyday at 11.00 am ENGLISH - BOOKING IS MANDATORY! ESP: solo el sàbado ... View full details WALK Bologna - Private Tour Free Walking Tour Italia from €45,00 ¡AHORA TAMBIÉN EN ESPAÑOL (Descripción más adelante)! ...

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    Free Walking Tour Bologna, Bologna, Italy. 2,883 likes · 14 talking about this · 16 were here. Scopri, visita, esplora Bologna ed il suo territorio insieme a noi. Free Walking Tour Bologna offre

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    Walking tours in Bologna THE 10 BEST Bologna Walking Tours Walking Tours in Bologna Enter dates Filters • 1 Sort & up & up & up English Italian Spanish French Bologna: Walking Tours Information Jan 20, 2024 - Whether you are a local or a tourist, get to know the area even better while on foot with the best Bologna walking tours on Tripadvisor.

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    THE FIRST AND ORIGINAL FREE WALKING TOUR IN BOLOGNA, since 2017! When: Everyday at 11.00 am ENGLISH - BOOKING IS MANDATORY! ESP: solo el sàbado ... View full details Free Walking Tour Pisa Free Walking Tour Italia €0,00 Pisa... known to the most as the city of the Leaning Tower. ...

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    Want to have fun?! Follow Free Walking Tour Bologna in an amazing walk discovering the thousands faces of a city which is a perfect destination in every season.