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    Bologna, Piazza del Nettuno

    Bologna, Piazza del Nettuno

    Built by a Flemish builder, Jean de Boulogne, the Neptune statue overlooks the iconic Piazza Maggiore, the heart of Bologna. The Giant – as the statue is known by local residents – is one of Bologna’s symbols and his trident inspired the logo of Maserati, one of the world’s most well-known luxury brands.

    Bologna’s red roofs

    Bologna’s red roofs

    Bologna has three nicknames, namely la rossa (“the red one”), referring to the city’s colourful roofs and political leanings, la dotta (“the learned one”), a reference to its university, and la grassa (“the fat one”), stemming from the abundance, variety and quality of its cuisine.

    Bologna, the two towers

    Flights to Bologna

    Bologna is a city that is much more than Bolognese sauce. Located in the heart of Italy, this ancient city takes its name from the Boii people who first settled here in the 4th Century BCE. Its age can clearly be seen in the city’s grandiose architecture, from the dominant two towers to the intricate squares, every building is dripping with history. But the Emilia-Romagna region’s biggest city is far from locked into the past.

    Bologna’s restaurants, industry and culture are all on the cutting edge, including a world-renowned cinema scene and film archive. Italy’s rich and wealthy head to the Po Valley on holiday every year for the Opera and food, while car enthusiasts head to the sports car factories.

    Yes, Bologna is much more than the meat and sauce it became famous for. 

    So, book your cheap flights via Brussels Airlines today and discover Bologna for yourself.

    What to do in Bologna?

    1. The sky-piercing needles of the two towers are Bologna’s most famous site. The taller of Bologna’s towers, Torre degli Asinelli, is almost 100 metres high. It is the only one of the two which is open – the second has a noticeable lean, and so is not accessible by the public. You can climb up the almost 500 steps, but do so at your own risk as locals say that those who make it to the top are doomed never to graduate from school.
    2. The region is also famous for its sports cars. Ducati, Lamborghini, Ferrari and Maserati all have their manufacturing plants in and around Bologna. Various companies offer full-day tours around the region, where you can check out the museums (the Lamborghini Museum is highly recommended), and witness first-hand the making of these elegant machines.
    3. In the south-west of the city, at the top of Colle della Guardia, the commanding Sanctuary of the Madonna of San Luca (known simply as San Luca) is a circular building with stunning views over the whole region. It is a bit of a walk to the top of the hill, but in peak season the San Luca Express train offers a short, guided tour en route.
    4. Bologna, Piazza Maggiore
    5. In the city, the Basilica of San Petronio, with its striking two-tiered façade, overlooks the Piazza Maggiore (the city’s main square).
    6. To the east of Piazza Maggiore, a series of streets known as Via Clavature (Street of Locksmiths) is home to the Quadrilatero district, which plays host to some of the finest food markets in Bologna.
    7. Keep heading east and you will arrive at the University of Bologna – which was founded in 1088 and is the world’s oldest university. A series of grandly decorated archways are the architectural highlight of the building.
    8. Further afield, Bologna’s train station offers excellent connections to Rimini, Federico Fellini’s hometown, Ravenna, the capital of the old Western Roman Empire, Verona, the setting of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, and the gastronomic capital Parma

    Practical information for your trip to Bologna

    • Brussels Airlines flies to and from Bologna Guglielmo Marconi Airport (BLQ). The airport is connected to the city centre and railway station via a shuttle bus. The aerobus runs roughly every 11 minutes from 5:30am until 12:15am. A single ticket costs six euros and, once you are in the city, the same ticket can be used on other TPER services up to 75 minutes after initial validation. Taxis and car rental services are also available at the airport and can be accessed from the terminal.
    • Current local time in Bologna:  
    • Currency: The euro is used in Bologna.
    • Telephone calls and Wi-Fi: : +39. Wi-Fi is available at all major hotels and restaurants.
    • Electric sockets: Sockets in Italy use type C and F European dual-pronged plug sockets, with most having a voltage of 220-240V.
    • Travel Information: When visiting, all passengers should make sure to have a passport which is valid for the duration of their trip. Passengers travelling from outside of the EU should check visa requirements. All information on visas and travel documents is available on the website:
    • Vaccinations: No vaccinations are required. More health information is available on the website:

    Dos and Don’ts in Bologna

    • Bologna is passionate about its sporting history. The local football team, Bologna F.C. is one of the most historically successful teams in Italian football, while the two basketball teams, Fortitudo and Virtus, are among the best in Europe. So, for sports fans, make sure you check out a match of two.
    • Similarly, Bologna’s nightlife is bustling, particularly around the University district or Via del Pratello, so do make sure to check-out these spots in the evening.
    • A lot of the city centre is off limits to vehicles. You can take advantage of this with bike-rental companies, or guides, two great ways to see the city.
    • Do be sure to grab a map and spend at least one afternoon wandering around and just enjoying the streets, or even indulging in the local cuisine on an impromptu Bologna food tour.

    Local phrases & essential vocabulary

    Italians love nothing better than talking about the topics of the day, with students and young people in Bologna leading the charge in that department. Here are some simple phrases to help you get by:

    • "Per favore and "Grazie" mean "please" and "thank you", respectively, while "Prego" means "you’re welcome".
    • "Come va?" is the informal way of asking how someone is, and "Sto bene, grazie" means “I’m fine, thank you.”
    • "Mi chiamo…" means “my name is…” and "Sono di ..." means “I am from…”
    • If you ever find the language getting too complex you can always say “Più piano, per favore”, which is a useful phrase that means “could you speak more slowly, please”.

    Cultural events in Bologna

    • March/ April. Bologna Book Fair, or the La fiera del libro per ragazzi is one of the premiere events for children’s books, with companies from over 60 countries attending the show annually.
    • Late November/ December. The Bologna motor show exhibits the city’s biggest and best sports cars. Along with a host of other exhibitions, the show also puts on various motor sports events including a Formula One knock-out competition which has, in previous years, attracted some of the biggest names in driving.
    • June / August. Organised by the Cineteca di Bologna, Under the stars of cinema ("Sotto les stelle del cinema") offers the unique opportunity to enjoy classic silent films with live orchestra or latest films in their original language in front of Europe’s largest screen and in one of the most beautiful movie theatre in the world: Piazza Maggiore. Attendance is free of charge.

    • When to go to Bologna?

    • Bologna sausage
    • Bologna is in the northern part of Italy and, as such, misses a lot of the excessive Mediterranean heat in the spring and autumn months. The city also experiences its fair share of rain either side of winter. However, in the summer months the city can get very hot, so if you are looking to make the most of your city break it is perhaps best to visit Bologna in May or September when the weather is a pleasantly warm 20 degrees Celsius on average.

      What to eat in Bologna?

      Bologna is famous the world over because of Bolognese sauce, and you will not find a better pasta experience than in Bologna’s best restaurants. The newest hotspot for culinary adventure is the FICO (Fabbrica Italiana Contadina – Eataly World) a 100,000-sqm theme park dedicated to sustainable and responsible cooking.

      • Tagliatelle alla Bolognese/ tagliatelle al ragu, the original source of Bolognese sauce. Don’t be surprised if you can’t find spaghetti Bolognese on most menus. Locals prepare the dish without tomatoes or garlic and use the flatter tagliatelle pasta, rather than spaghetti, in order to soak up the sauce better.
      • Mortadella. This special type of Bologna sausage originally took its name from the mortar, which was used to mash and mix the meat. Spices such as black pepper and pistachio are used to enrich this Bolognese delicacy.

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