Blog, Food, Italy, Travel

A Layover In Bologna, Italy

If you have a layover in Bologna, then you have plenty of time to explore this beautiful city. Bologna is not a huge city than needs to be conquered over a few days, one day in Bologna is truly all you need to see everything. From piazzas, to basilicas, palaces and foodie experiences such as, eating a classic Bologna meal – there is plenty to enjoy during a short or long layover in Bologna.

Why we had a Layover in Bologna

We took a Mediterranean cruise with an extended trip to Gatteo a Mare, Italy with Christina’s family of fourteen. The extended trip to Gatteo a Mare was a lot of fun because we visited with out Italian family relatives. Bologna happened to be the closest city with an airport for everyone to catch their flights back to the United States. Hence, the opportunity for us to have an amazing layover in Bologna! So after an hour and a half on the road from Gatteo a Mare, we arrived in Bologna midday to enjoy the city’s beautiful sites.

What to See During your Layover in Bologna

There are quite a few things to do in Bologna, but here are three main sites you can see during a layover in Bologna – Piazza Maggiore, San Petronio Basilica and Palazzo Re Enzo. As we have stated earlier, Bologna is a small city, thus all of these sites are within a five minute walking distance from each other.

Piazza Maggiore

The central square in Bologna is called, Piazza Maggiore, and is surrounded by the city’s basilica and former administrative buildings. Piazza Maggiore is the heart of Bologna and the perfect area to explore or relax during your layover in Bologna. If you have the opportunity, Piazza Maggiore is quite stunning during sunset. Grab an aperol spritz and watch the sunlight go down casting shadows on the top of the piazza buildings.

Watching the sunset in Piazza Maggiore during our layover in Bologna, Italy

Cinema Ritrovato Festival at Piazza Maggiore

If you are lucky, you can enjoy Bologna’s annual Cinema Ritrovato Festival during your layover in Bologna. This festival is dedicated to restoring and rediscovering iconic movies, as well as little-known films during the silent movie period. The festival has a selection of at least four hundred films from all around the world. The silent movies are accompanied by live music composers and musicians. The festival is always held in late June to early July. Unfortunately, we were unable to experience the festival because there was no movie being shown during our visit.

Enjoy a Classic Bologna Dinner at Piazza Maggiore

Bologna is a food lovers dream! There are simply so many foodie things to enjoy in Bologna – one being the famous bolognese sauce. Honestly, what better way to spend a layover in Bologna than enjoying a classic Bologna dinner with drinks!?

There are several restaurants to dine outside at in the Piazza Maggiore. We highly recommend everyone enjoy Bologna’s famous bolognese sauce with everything! Two popular dishes are the tagliatelle pasta with bolognese ragu and Emilia Romagna’s traditional lasagna verdi alla bolognese.

Lasagna verdi alla bolognese is Bologna’s classic lasagna made with spinach pasta, hence the verdi “green”. It is also made with their classic bolognese ragu and béchamel sauce layered between the spinach sheets. This lasagna was hands down the best we have ever had. Make sure you get your lasagna verdi alla bolognese during your layover in Bologna – we promise you will not regret it!

San Petronio Basilica

The San Petronio Basilica is one of the more unique basilicas we have seen in Italy because of its brick architecture and unfinished facade. It is the largest church built by bricks and the tenth largest church in the world by volume. In our opinion, the unfinished facade really brings more character to the basilica than if it was finished, which is why we find it so unique.

Palazzo Re Enzo

The Palazzo Re Enzo is Bologna’s heart and prestigious symbol of the city. Visitors can explore the palace and learn about its rich history. Or visit the palace’s whispering gallery and have a little giggle. Go to a corner of the whispering gallery while another person goes to a corner across the room. Then whisper a secret, like “I love you” and only they will be able to hear it!

Onto the Next Adventure!

While everyone went to the airport to catch their flights home, we went to pick up our rental car from Maggiore. We picked up our little FIAT and started our drive out of Bologna and towards Modena for our food tour! Bologna was a nice relaxing layover that we hope to revisit and explore again one day.