What I did and saw:
Towers of Bologna-
Pisa is not the only city with a leaning tower. Bologna has a pair of leaning towers in its city center, the Asinelli Tower and the Garisenda Tower. Known as “Le due torri,” they were built in 12th century. They have seen a variety of uses such as a prison, a watchtower, a lighting rod, and scientific testing. They are believed to be the inspiration for the construction of the twin towers in New York City, and they have been written about by authors such as Dante and Charles Dickens. We were able to go up the 498 steps of the Asinelli Tower, which is the taller of the two and offers some unique views of the city.
Museo Della Specola-
Bologna is home to the oldest university in the world, the University of Bologna, which was founded in 1088. The influence of the school is prevalent throughout the city, and there are opportunities for learning all around the city. For just 5 euros we were able to get a tour of the Museo Della Specola and see the original instruments used by past astronomers. It was very interesting to see the old maps, and to learn about the construction of telescopes. Also, the tour concluded on the rooftop terrace, offering nice views of the surrounding city.
Luigi Cattaneo Collection of Anatomical Waxes-
Another example of an interesting learning opportunity is found at the Anatomical Wax Collection. Past students used the models to study anatomy and pathology in the 18th and 19th centuries. It is a small museum, but it is free, unique, and interesting.
Botanical Garden and Herbarium-
Located next to the Luigi Cattaneo Collection of Anatomical Waxes is the Botanical Garden and Herbarium. Like the Anatomical Wax collection, it is also free to enter (tours cost €5). They have a nice space to walk through and a wide variety of plants to check out.
The largest plaza in Bologna is Piazza Maggiore, and it is surrounded by impressive architecture. The Basilica di San Petronio and the Fontana del Nettuno are both located next to the plaza in the city center.
Where I ate and drank:
BrewDog Bologna, Il Punto, and Beer for Bunnies-
Bologna has some nice offerings for craft beer at BrewDog Bologna, Il Punto, and Beer for Bunnies, all located in the same area of town on the western side. The area also features a some cool graffiti.
Tigelle are small, round breads local to the Bologna/Modena/Emilia-Romagna region. They are sliced and filled with you choice of sweet or savory items. Zerocinquantino (which means 050), serves tasty tigelle and quality wine for a wallet friendly price.
Salumeria Simoni and Tamburini-
If you are looking for deli meats or cheeses, Salumeria Simoni and Tamburini are both good places to go. They have a nice selection of Italian food to get to go. Tamburini also has a few tables and offers meat and cheese plates and wine if you want to try something there.
Cafe Cocoa is a cool cafe with good cocktails and espresso based drinks. They also serve wine and beer. I had one of the best Negronis of my life while I was there.
Although Italy is an espresso country, it is possible to find good filter coffee in some places. I had a good Chemex at Pappare, close to the Two Towers of Bologna. However, the service was extremely slow, it took over 20 minutes just to get my coffee. I was unimpressed by the food I had off the lunch menu, but the breakfast menu looked like it had some good options.
Trattoria dal Biassanot-
Bologna is home to many foods many people think of when they think of Italian food, such as lasagna, ragu, and tortellini in brodo (tortellini in broth). I was able to try all three of these tasty foods at Trattoria dal Biassanot. Also, right next to the restaurant is the “Finestrella,” which is a window to one of Bologna’s canals.
Stefino Organic Gelato, Cremeria Mascarella, Cremeria Santo Stefano, and Gelateria Galliera 49-
I am a big fan of Roman food and Roman gelato, but I think Bolognese gelato gives Roman gelato a run for its money. They offer some tasty and unique flavors like a turmeric cinnamon black pepper gelato at Stefino Organic Gelato, egg custard pine nut and chocolate pear grappa flavors at Cremeria Mascarella, and theobroma, a chocolate and orange flavor I had with speculoos gelato at Cremeria Santo Stefano.
Where I stayed:
The staff at We Bologna was super helpful when I had to adjust my reservation to teach an English camp. The facility itself seems to be a mix of college dorms and a hostel, but in a non-obnoxious way. It was a very nice place to stay, with nice common areas and a nice shared kitchen.
How I got around:
I arrived in Bologna on a train from Florence, and left on a train to Turin. While in Bologna I walked to get around and see the sights (and make more room for Italian food).
My favorite thing:
The food in Bologna was very good, but my favorites were the gelato from various places and the tigelle I had at Zerocinquantino.
My least favorite thing:
In August in Bologna much of the cities shuts down, so many of the places I wanted to visit were closed. Also, I had a few eye problems (due to something that happened prior to Bologna) that hampered my time there a bit.
For next time:
As mentioned above, many of the places I wanted to explore in Bologna were closed while I was there, so I would like to get a chance to check them out and to try more of the Bolognese food. I would also like to see the Santuario Madonna di San Luca on the outskirts of the city. Additionally I would like to visit Modena, another foodie city in the Emilia-Romagna region.
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