One tips that I always give to the guests of our Bologna food tours is to wander through the city centre to discover the hidden beauty of Bologna. But winter is coming so even if we have km and km of porticoes, it's still nice to find some warm and beautiful places to rest and chill. Museums, libraries and churches may help with that.
These are my 5 favourite places to visit when it's cold or rains outside. But don't make the mistake to miss them even with the sun.
Santo Stefano Basilica
The so called 7 churches Basilica is a unique place to visit not when it's raining and one of my favourite in Bologna.
You can walk through chapels, crypt, middle age courtyard inside a place surrounded by myth and mysteries.
A lot of symbols recall the life and death of Christ, like the cockerel statue inside Pilato's courtyard or the black marble column of the sepulcher church that gave 200 years of indulgence to pilgrims who visited the Basilica. Legend says the in the last courtyard, Dante wrote some verses of the Divine Comedy during his time in Bologna, inspired by the horrendous figures sculptured on the columns.
I don't know if it's true but this Basilica and its square make me proud to live in Bologna every time I pass next to it.
In the museum shop, you can find some products made by monks who still live and work in the complex, like honey or spirits.
Everyday 8am - 7pm
Sala Borsa library
Sala Borsa is an hidden gem where you can find warmth and relief when it's raining outside.
Just in front of Neptune fountain, enter this former trading centre, basketball arena and botanical garden which now is a public library with café and sofas where you can read and chill drinking a coffee with hundreds of students or get free wi-fi.
Open all days but Sunday, I can spend hours around this amazing venue reading magazines and browsing books.
You can walk between the Roman ruins of Via Emilia that you see from the main hall. Just go at -1 ground and follow indications.
Monday 2.30pm - 8pm
Tuesday-Friday 10am - 8pm
Saturday 10am › 7pm
Palazzo Pepoli - Bologna history Museum
Palazzo Pepoli is a museum dedicated to the history, culture and transformations of Bologna, from the Etruscan age until our days. Opened in 2012, it's a very interactive museum, not boring at all, and also a perfect activity to do in Bologna with kids.
Towers, porticoes, art and music will be uncovered in a funny itinerary inside a beautiful middle age palace. Warm yourself with tea or coffee at their public café (no ticket to enter the bar).
Sometimes in summer they also make acoustic shows inside the courtyard that hosts the "Time tower", a great venue for intimate events.
10am - 7pm
San Domenico Basilica
One of the most underrated and hidden gems of Bologna is this XII century church that hosts statues by Michelangelo, that Michelangelo.
If you were in Florence you would have to queue for hours to see this amazing ark sculptured by Niccolò dell'Arca that contains the rests of Saint Domenico. A young Michelangelo sculptured 3 statues on the ark, but is all the church that deserves to be seen.
At the back of the Basilica, in Via Castiglione, you can see another beautiful profane church, "Santa Lucia", whose façade reminds the most famous San Petronio.
Monday - Friday 9am - 12am e 3.30pm - 6pm
Saturday 9am - 12am, 3.30pm - 5pm
Sunday 3.30pm - 5pm
MAMBO - Museum of modern art
Born inside the former city bakery that produced bread for all Bologna during World War 1st, in 2007 became Bologna's Modern Art Museum.
Permanent collection hosts modern art works by Guttuso, Marina Abramović, Maurizio Cattelan etc. and from 2012 MAMBO is the location of bolognese painter Giorgio Morandi museum.
If you're lucky you can also visit stunning temporary exhibitions like David Bowie Is.
The bar on the ground floor is one of the best places in Bologna for aperitivo (7pm to 10pm). Just next to MAMBO there's Zenzero, one of my favourite restaurants in town.
10am - 7pm
[photos courtesy of: Luigi Chighine, Fr Lawrence Lew, Donato Accogli, John Samuel, Riccardo Granaroli, Genus Bononiae]