8 Things to Do in Bologna When it Rains

Bologna rain
One tip that I always give to the guests of our Bologna food tours is to wander through the city center 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.

Follow my advice when it's cold or rains outside.
But don't make the mistake to miss them even with the sun.

Get lost inside Santo Stefano Basilica

Santo stefano Basilica bologna with the rain

The so-called 7 churches Basilica of Santo Stefano is a unique place to visit not when it's raining and one of my favorite 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.


Via Santo Stefano, 24, 40125 Bologna
Tel. +39 051 3209065699

Opening Time
Everyday 8 am - 7 pm

Explore Sala Borsa library

Sala borsa bologna

​​Sala Borsa is a hidden gem where you can find warmth and relief when it's raining outside.

Just in front of Neptune fountain, enter this former trading center, basketball arena and botanical garden.Now it's one of the best public libraries in Bologna, with café and sofas where you can read and chill drinking a coffee with hundreds of students or get free wi-fi.

Open every day 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.

Piazza del Nettuno, 3, 40124 Bologna
Tel. +39 051 219 4400

Opening Time
Monday 2.30pm - 8pm
Tuesday-Friday 10am - 8pm
Saturday 10am › 7pm

Learn and bring home new culinary skills

Cooking class bologna 1

Do you know what's really good to do when it rains in Bologna?
Eat tortellini in brodo.
You will forget soon about the weather.

Join our cooking class in Bologna, just a few steps from Piazza Maggiore, and learn how to make it with a proper local chef.

You only have 1 day in Bologna and you want to explore the city?
No worries, you can have a fast and furious tortellini experience mastering the art of crafting Bologna's renowned pasta in only 1 hour.

A new culinary skill would be the best souvenir to take home from Bologna. Your friends will thank me ;)

If you're into wine, you can also join a Bologna wine tasting. After a few glasses of Pignoletto and Lambrusco, the clouds will disappear.

Visit Palazzo Pepoli and learn the history of Bologna

Museo storia bologna

Museo della Storia di Bologna in 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.


Via Castiglione, 8, 40125 Bologna
Tel. +39 051 1993 6370

Opening Time
10am - 7pm

Meet Michelangelo at San Domenico Basilica

San domenico basilica bologna

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 buy a train ticket to visit Bologna.

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.


Piazza S. Domenico, 13, 40124 Bologna
Tel. +39 051 6400411

Opening Time
Monday - Friday 9am - 12am e 3.30pm - 6pm
Saturday 9am - 12am, 3.30pm - 5pm
Sunday 3.30pm - 5pm

Step inside MAMBO - Museum of modern art

Mambo museum modern art bologna

Born inside the former city bakery that produced bread for all Bologna during World War 1st, in 2007 became Bologna's Modern Art Museum.

The permanent collection hosts modern artworks by Guttuso, Marina Abramović, Maurizio Cattelan, etc. and since 2012 MAMBO is the location of the Bolognese painter Giorgio Morandi museum.

Take a look at other unusual museums in Bologna and Emilia Romagna and at the best exhibitions in Bologna, always updated.

The bar on the ground floor is one of the best places in Bologna for aperitivo (7 pm to 10 pm). Just next to MAMBO there's Zenzero, one of my favorite restaurants in town.


Via Don Giovanni Minzoni, 14, 40121 Bologna
Tel. +39 051 6496611

Opening Time
Tuesday to Sunday
10 am - 7 pm

Admire the Compianto of Christ at Santa Maria della Vita

Compianto Santa Maria Vita Bologna

Niccolò dell'Arca did it again. This time solo, with no Michelangelo involved.

A pure masterpiece.
That's how I could only describe the group of statues you find under the dome of Santa Maria della Vita in Via Clavature.

Poet Gabriele D'Annunzio defined Compianto del Cristo of Santa Maria della Vita as "a stone scream".
And you can tell it by looking at this dramatic representation of the pain of 6 figures in front of a laying Jesus Christ.

The solemnity of Giuseppe D'Arimatea and San Giovanni contrasts with the force of the women, and it's hard not to feel inside the scene with them.

A few steps outside the Basilica, walk under the portico called "Portico della Morte" (portico of the death). It takes its name from the ancient hospital of Santa Maria della Morte, which had the purpose to cure prisoners and those sentenced to death.

Now this is one of the best porticoes in Bologna and is full of restaurants, cocktail bars, and the old and good Libraria Nanni bookshop.

Via Clavature, 8/10, 40124 Bologna
Tel. +39 051 19936343

Opening Time
Tuesday to Sunday
10 am - 6:30 pm

Jump on a train and skip the rain

Ravenna food mosaic tour San Vitale

The stunning mosaics you will visit in our Ravenna tour

This may sound like an easy solution.
But if it's pouring what's wrong to take a train and leave your umbrella in your bag?

35 minutes and you're in Firenze, over the Apennine mountains.

1 hour to go to Milan. Well, there the weather could be even worse.

Another hour and you're in Ravenna where you could admire the unique (and indoor) mosaic on our Ravenna tour.

Bologna is in a strategic position in the middle of Italy, well connected to the most beautiful cities around it.
Consider this option but then come back, because you won't find tortellini elsewhere :)

[photos courtesy of Luigi Chighine, Fr Lawrence Lew, Donato Accogli, John Samuel, Riccardo Granaroli, Genus Bononiae]

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