Last summer, I spent a few days in the Italian city of Bologna. The Magna Charta Universitatum celebrated its 27th anniversary and a fellow AUC alumna and I were invited to speak at the annual conference in Bologna. Thankfully, after the conference ended, we still had most of the the weekend to go explore a bit more of the old city centre. We made a list and visited as many places as we could, like the Archiginnasio Palace Anatomical Theatre. It was mid-September, the sun was shining, and everyone was out enjoying the last few days of summer.

Travel Guide: The Best Things to Do in Bologna

The towers of Bologna, Italy.

Summer vibes and street performances in Bologna.

Piazza Maggiore, Bologna.

Music performance at Piazza Maggiore, Bologna.

Relax and Enjoy the Music at Piazza Maggiore

The Piazza Maggiore is one of the major town squares in Bologna. It was buzzing with all kinds of tourists visiting the San Petronio Basilica. Others were there to admire the Fountain of Neptune with its…lactating sea nymphs (completed in 1567). The square was also teeming with street artists and musicians, like the hipsterlicious ‘The Streetles’ and a quirky group of entertainers accompanied by a talented harpist. The spirited musical performances really put the cherry on top of the Bologna summer vibes.

Gelato (Italian ice cream) in Bologna.

Me, posing with an Italian ice cream in Bologna.

Gelato O’clock: Try the Delicious Italian Ice Cream

If you’ve visited my blog before, these photos may not come as much of a surprise. If there is one unmissable thing about visiting Italian cities in summer, it’s gelato! Praise the dairy gods for not making me lactose intolerant. A few of the best places in Bologna to eat some delicious gelato are Sorbetteria Castiglione, Cremeria Santo Stefano, and Gelateria Galliera 49.

We sneaked in as many ice creams as we possibly could within those two days of exploring Bologna’s fabulous food scene. You can see at least three more photos of Italian ice cream in my Bologna Food Log (I have a problem).

Piazza Minghetti, Bologna.

Piazza Minghetti, Bologna.

Visit the Flower Market at Piazza Minghetti

Piazza Minghetti is a relatively small city square in central Bologna. There is a statue of Marco Minghetti in the middle of the square. Minghetti was a statesman and economist who was born into a rich family of landowners in Bologna. We stumbled across this colourful little flower market after we visited the medieval Palazzo Pepoli, now the Museum of the History of Bologna. Such a colourful little spot to look around.

Door in the student quarter of Bologna. Shop entrance in Bologna, Italy.

Street art in Bologna's student quarter.

Have a Look at the Student Quarter Street Art

Many of the city walls were also clad with street art, some of them quite light-hearted and others with strong political messages. Lots of doors and buildings in the student quarter were filled with posters and graffiti. I found most of them creative and visually expressive, but a lot of the buildings are also very old. Some of the students we spoke to said it was a bit of a shame that such historic buildings had been covered with spray paint. What do you think?

One of my Favourite Cities in Europe

Bologna is definitely one of my favourite cities I have visited so far. It’s not too big and not too small. The city has an enormous amount of historic character, and there is a bright and lively community of students. I will definitely try to go back one day!

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