The classic guided tour starts at Piazza Maggiore, the heart of the city, with its main buildings:
- the City Hall, a mighty building which includes complex of edifices from different periods. The oldest part included originally the residence of the famous jurist Accursius. In 1336 it became the seat of “the Elders”, the highest magistrates of the commune, and since then has always been a representative palace of the city. Today it is the site of the City Government;
- the Palazzo del Podestà, the oldest of the edifices on the Piazza, built as the first site of the City Government. Today the palace presents a 15th century renowated facade;
- the Palace of King Enzo, built between 1244 and 1246 as an extention of the Palazzo del Podesta. Soon the edifice became the “residence” of King Enzo, son of the emperor Federic II, taken captive by the Bolognese during the battle of Fossalta;
- the Palace of the Banchi, takes its name from several bank shops of the money changers who used to exercise their profession below the portico of the palace. The scenographic facade was designed in the seconds half of the 16th century by the architect Jacopo Barozzi da Vignola;
- the Palace of the Notaries, elegant palace built in the Late Gothic period. Throughout the centuries it was the site of the bolognese Notary Corporation;
- the Basilica of Saint Petronius, the main church in Bologna. Dedicated to the patron saint of the city, it was commissioned by the Comune in 1390, but its construction lasted until 1663. Inside is the famous Bolognini chapel and the meridian line made by Cassini;
- the Neptune’s Fountain, monumental fountain of Bologna situated on the piazza del Nettuno. The impressive bronze statue of the god of the sea was executed in the second half of the 16th century by the Flemish sculptor Giambologna. The trident of Neptune was picked up as a symbol of the Maserati, the luxury car company founded in Bologna.
Passing under the elegant Pavaglione portico the tour continues with a visit at the Archiginnasio Palace, the first stable seat of the University with a lovely courtyard all decorated with thousands of coats of arms of students. On the first floor is the XVIIth century wooden Anatomical Teater, a room dedicated to anatomy lessons.
Walking through the suggestive quarter of the Mercato di Mezzo and admiring the gastronomical specialities of the city, we reach the late Gothic Merchants’ Palace, which today houses the Chamber of Commerce, Industry, Crafts and Agriculture. Just by side the famous Two Towers rise up sloping towards the sky. Built during the Middle Ages by rich local families, they served their military purposes but at the same time were simbols of their power and pride. Of the 100 towers once existing, today some 24 are preserved.
The itinerary ends with a visit at the antique Basilica of Santo Stefano, also known as the Seven Churches. A magic place which hides in its walls the original pagan Temple of Isis and the copy of the Holy Sepulchre built by the crusaders.
During the historical and artistical tour Your guide will tell You many romantic legends and amusing anecdotes, and also reveal You the true origin and significance of the many different nicknames given to Bologna through the centuries, such as: the “red”, the “town with many towers”, the “learned” and… last but not least the “fat”.
If you want to experience a glimpse of Bologna, I suggest you watch this beautiful video produced by Bologna Welcome (the official tourist information service):
If you have more time: Bologna in a day