Best Day Trips From Bologna

Best Day Trips From Bologne

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The often overlooked city of Bologna, located in the northern Italian region of Emilia Romagna, is currently experiencing a surge in popularity. Historically, it has lived in the shadow of its more famous neighbouring cities like Florence, Rome, Venice, and Milan.

Bologna, the capital of the region, serves as an ideal starting point for exploring Emilia Romagna and beyond (just an hour away from Florence!). This carefully curated guide to the best day trips from Bologna enables you to discover the finest aspects of Italy with ease and a strong desire for exploration.

Bologna itself stands out as one of Italy’s most distinctive, stunning, and underappreciated cities. However, it is the treasures beyond the city limits that make this region truly exceptional. Scattered along the historic Via Emilia, established by the Romans in 187 BC, lie some of Emilia Romagna’s most captivating cities and attractions. These places boast some of Italy’s most splendid and unique architecture, featuring gems like Parma, Modena, Ravenna, Rimini, Ferrara, and Reggio Emilia. Each location is steeped in beauty, history, and charm, offering distinct culinary delights. Modena and Parma, in particular, stand out as the birthplaces of balsamico and Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, respectively.

Emilia Romagna boasts an extensive array of charming destinations suitable for day trips, but here are my personal favourites.

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Piazza Grande A Modena
CC BY-SA 4.0 / Albypino

In stark contrast to the bustling streets of Bologna, Modena may be a smaller and more tranquil town, but its significance in the realm of Italian industrial progress is undeniable.

Let’s begin with the serene and unhurried city center, characterized by its narrow streets graced with elegant shops and bars. At the heart of it all lies the main square, Piazza Grande, home to the Modena Duomo and the renowned Ghirlandina, an 86-meter-tall bell tower that has earned its place on the UNESCO World Heritage Sites list.

For those with a passion for high-speed automobiles and motorsports, a visit to the Museo Casa Enzo Ferrari is an absolute must. This exhibition is dedicated to Enzo Ferrari, the visionary behind the globally renowned automotive company, and it is partially housed within his former residence.

Read our Modena Travel Guide
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Complete Guide To Ravenna

Regarded as one of the most exquisite cities in Emilia-Romagna, Ravenna once served as the capital of the Western Roman Empire and later as a prominent European center during the Byzantine Empire. Consequently, the city is a treasure trove of art and culture, with a particular emphasis on its breathtaking mosaics.

The Galla Placida Mausoleum is home to some of Ravenna’s most cherished and ancient mosaics, presenting a captivating portrayal of the starry night. Another exceptional mosaic showcase awaits at the Battistero degli Ariani, where you can marvel at a depiction of the baptism of Christ, encircled by his twelve disciples.

For enthusiasts of literature and history, a visit to Dante Alighieri’s tomb is a compelling option. This renowned poet, originally from Florence, found exile from his birthplace and spent his final days in Ravenna, where he now rests.

Ravenna’s culinary offerings are also a point of pride, known for its pasta-based main courses and the piadina, a type of flatbread that stands as one of the distinctive symbols of the Emilia-Romagna region.

Read our Ravenna Travel Guide
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Rimini, a city situated along the picturesque Adriatic Sea, gained global recognition during the 1970s and 1980s, when it emerged as an emblem of the “Italian summer” lifestyle, replete with beach clubs, bars, and restaurants.

Strolling along the promenade, you’ll encounter vintage hotels that have retained their distinctive 1970s design. Even today, Rimini remains a sought-after summer destination, appealing to both young people and families alike. While the Adriatic Sea in this region may not be considered the finest in Italy, Rimini’s promenade offers an abundance of entertainment, excellent seafood, and a well-equipped beach, making it the ideal destination for those seeking a blend of fun and relaxation. Plus, it’s remarkably accessible, making it one of the most convenient day trips from Bologna to the beach.

Beyond its reputation as a summer haven, Rimini boasts a charming historical city center. This includes the old fishing village known as Borgo San Giuliano, where the facades of the houses are adorned with captivating wall paintings. These houses are still inhabited by some of the city’s older residents and, interestingly, young students and workers as well. The village is teeming with tourists and features a variety of restaurants, with Borghetto being a recommended choice to savor a delectable seafood Carbonara.

In the city center, you can also explore remnants of the Roman era, and don’t miss the magnificent Tempio Malatestiano church, which boasts exquisite bas-reliefs and a painting by the renowned artist Piero della Francesca.

Read our Rimini Travel Guide
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Parma is a city of considerable wealth, characterized by an abundance of art and a charming city center. It differs from the alternative and somewhat disorderly appeal of cities like Bologna or Ferrara, as Parma’s architecture and lifestyle bear a closer resemblance to Modena.

Nevertheless, Parma has established a prominent reputation, thanks to its meticulously preserved museums, theaters, and monuments, which receive continuous attention through renovation efforts. Among these cultural gems, the Monastero of San Giovanni Evangelista is a must-visit, particularly for its stunning dome adorned with a perspective painting depicting Jesus Christ and his disciples, a masterpiece by Correggio.

For those with an affinity for paintings and masterpieces, a visit to the Galleria Nazionale di Parma is a real treat. This remarkable museum showcases the works of both Italian and foreign painters, including luminaries such as Carracci, Guercino, El Greco, Van Dyck, Correggio, and Beato Angelico.

Parma is celebrated for its production of Parmesan cheese and delectable cold cuts, including the renowned Parma ham and culatello, considered one of the finest hams globally. To savor these culinary delights, you can secure a reservation at establishments like Osteria dello Zingaro or the Antica Osteria della Ghiaia, where you can relish some of the finest cold cuts in town.

Read our Parma Travel Guide
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San Marino

Visiting San Marino

San Marino, the diminutive micro-state, perches atop a peak and is enveloped by the picturesque Italian countryside’s rolling hills. Often hailed as one of the world’s most ancient republics, and recognized as one of Europe’s tiniest nations, it is also officially known as the ‘Most Serene Republic of San Marino.’

With a population of a mere 33,000 residents, this miniature nation is easily explorable within the span of a day, making it a convenient day trip from Bologna. Key highlights in San Marino encompass taking in the breath-taking views from the summit of the Guaita, the city’s oldest fortress, and exploring the Neo-Classical Basilica di San Marino.

Read our San Marino Travel Guide
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Florence, often regarded as the Cradle of the Renaissance, is conveniently located just a little over an hour away from Bologna by train. While this enchanting city undoubtedly deserves at least two or three days to explore thoroughly, it’s still possible to make the most of a one-day visit to Florence if you plan your itinerary wisely.

For a fulfilling day in Florence, some of the top activities to consider include immersing yourself in the Uffizi Galleries. This historic museum is one of the oldest in the world and showcases masterpieces by renowned artists such as Michelangelo, Leonardo Da Vinci, and many other artistic luminaries. In addition to its iconic art galleries and museums, a visit to the awe-inspiring Santa Maria del Fiore Basilica is an absolute must. This architectural marvel stands as a testament to the brilliance of the Renaissance era.

Read our Florence Travel Guide
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