The city of Bologna is the capital of the Emilia-Romagna region. Rich in art and culture, renowned as an ancient university town, thanks to The University of Bologna (Università di Bologna), founded in 1088, is certainly full of things to see, to do and to taste.
From enjoying the region's excellent cuisine in local Osterie, to exploring its wonderful monuments, such as the leaning tower of Bologna (it's not just in Pisa!) named the Garisenda, one of The Two Towers of Bologna (while the tallest one is called Asinelli tower), the majestic Palazzo Comunale and the ancient library in the Palace of Archiginnasio, the Basilica of Santo Stefano and the unfinished Basilica di San Petronio (which was supposed to be bigger than St. Peter's in Rome).
But apart from its traditions and historical heritage, which can be visited with an exciting guided tour from Florence and its gastronomic heritage, which can be experienced on our original food tour, or cooked by yourself with our cooking class, this city offers also some great opportunities for excursions to visit its surroundings, both with and without a car.
The region of Emilia-Romagna is rich in wonderful destinations around Bologna that you can discover with one of our day trips departing from Bologna. In order to help you making your trip in Emilia Romagna unforgettable, we have selected the top 5 (+1) to give you some inspirations for your next voyage to Italy!
Modena is only 37 kilometers away from Bologna and about 100 kilometers from Florence; the beautiful city of Modena is known for the variety of its historical heritage, and is considered among the most fascinating cities of the Emilia-Romagna region also for its rich traditions and culinary delights.
Its historic center is rich in architectural wonders, that can be admired visiting the Romanesque Cathedral and the Ghirlandina Tower, symbol of the city located in the center of Piazza Grande Ghirlandina, which since 1997 has been declared Italy's heritage site by UNESCO. Modena is also famous for its many churches - such as St. Vincent, St. Augustine, St. Charles and St. Peter - and its civic monuments, like the Ducal Palace and the Town Hall.
Last but not least, the cuisine is the most important aspect of this city, renowned for being the Italian capital of food. What to eat in Modena?
The top local specialties that every traveller passing by Modena should try are:
You can taste all the typical Modena food specialties with our Emilia Food Valley Experiences.
Former ducal capital, famous for its 11th century University, the city of Parma is located at less than 100 kilometers from Bologna and offers many cultural treasures and attractions to visit. Parma has been officially proclaimed by UNESCO a "Creative City for gastronomy", in 2015, as the gastronomic centre of the "Italian Food Valley", and in 2014 it has been declared the world's 4th best place for the quality of life by the British newspaper "The Telegraph".
Parma's major monuments are all located in the area of the Cathedral, which is considered among the greatest works of Roman architecture in Italy. Among the historical attractions of Parma make sure not to miss the Basilica of Santa Maria Steccata, built between 1521 and 1539; the Baptistery of Antelami, consecrated in 1270, completely covered in pink marble; the Renaissance Abbey of St. John the Evangelist, rich in historical treasures.
A guided tour of Parma will give you the opportunity to visit also the complex of the Palazzo della Pilotta, the University Palace, the baroque palace of the Ursulines, the neoclassical Imperial Palace Arena, and finally the elegant Casinetto Petitot, one of the most elegant Italian cafes.
Parma is also world-famous for its culinary traditions, in particular for these unmissable gems of Italian and Emilian cuisine:
Great and rich in traditions, Ravenna is a destination to put on your bucket list if you visit the Emilia-Romagna. Boasting an incredible cultural, artistic and architectural heritage, Ravenna has eight monuments - the complex of the early Christian monuments of Ravenna - considered World's Heritage Sites by UNESCO.
Most of Ravenna's religious buildings were destroyed during the war, but some of them were rebuilt and restructured, such as the 18th century Cathedral of the Holy Resurrection, the 5th century Basilica di Sant'Agata Maggiore, the Basilica of Santa Croce, the Basilica of San Francesco, which hosted the funeral of Dante Alighieri in 1321, and the Basilica of Santa Maria in Porto, where from 1570 is kept the image of the famous Greek Madonna.
Among its interesting museums don't miss the Museum Archbishop of Ravenna (reopened in 2010 after eight years of work), the National Museum, the Art Museum and the Municipal Art Gallery.
For all the car-lovers and fans of the Formula 1, the charming town of Maranello is a destination not to be missed, as it is the seat of the Ferrari factory.
Several references to the famous car manufacturer characterize this city: in the center of Maranello, over the mosaic in Piazza Libertà depicting the emblem of the town, stands the famous monument to Enzo Ferrari (founder of the Ferrari), who moved his factory from Modena to Maranello in 1943 because of the war. The monument to the Prancing Horse, the symbol of Italian sport car manufacturer Ferrari, by the sculptor Helidon Xhixha is located close to the Ferrari factory.
Maranello is located less than 100 kilometers from Bologna, and you can reach the city of the Prancing Horse by train from Modena railway station or Bologna railway station.
But, if you do not want to being busy in taking trains and buses from Bologna to Maranello, you can book our food and Ferrari tour of Maranello departing from Bologna: with our fantastic excursion you will have the opportunity to visit the Ferrari Museum, which displays historical models and engines of racing cars. Do not miss trophies and cups, suits and helmets of pilots that document the history of one of the oldest teams in Formula 1!
If you prefer departing from Florence to Maranello, you can book our tour of Maranello departing from Florence.
Ferrara is one of the most charming cities near Bologna: once an important medieval center and one of the most opulent courts of the Renaissance, the city of Ferrara boasts an incredible historical and architectural heritage.
The historic center is dotted with splendid palaces, churches, squares, gardens and works of art housed in its many museums, which are one of its main attractions. Ferrara is a magical place to be explored, on foot or by bike, reliving the magical atmosphere of the past at every step. The city is also home to historical events, such as the Palio di San Giorgio, the oldest in Italy, and several musical events such as the Ferrara Buskers Festival.
Also known as the "City of the Renaissance", Ferrara has been included in the World Heritage Sites by UNESCO, due to its historical treasures and unique natural landscape.
San Marino is an enclaved microstate surrounded by Italian territories, and it is one of the nicest places near Bologna. The independent state of San Marino offers to visitors a variety of fascinating attractions: from the representative three towers that rise imposing, symbol of this ancient city-state that has always defended its freedom.
San Marino is also rich in churches, palaces and squares of great beauty: Liberty Square, which offers a beautiful view of the valley: the museums where you can discover the past of this city, but also other cultural buildings, such as the Library and the State Archives, or as the old Titano Theatre and the State University, founded in 1985. The State Museum, housed in the old building of the Palazzo Pergami Belluzzi, contains almost 5000 pieces, many of which related the San Marino's history. But it also preserves archaeological finds from Neolithic to Medieval times, from ancient Egypt, Etruscan and Roman sculptures and paintings, and several artifacts.
Since 2008, the San Marino historic center and Mount Titano were included in the UNESCO World Heritage Sites. San Marino is the ideal destination to spend a nice day trip between art, history and beautiful natural seneries.