Private Walking Tour of Bologna's Historic City Center
- Piazza Maggiore: The vibrant, 800-year-old heart of the oldest part of the city is lined by porticoes and Bologna's must-see landmarks, including the Basilica, the magnificent Town Hall, and more.
- Fountain of Neptune: Clutching his trident, rippling with muscles, and naked to the world, the mighty bronze sea god has dominated its piazza since 1566 over a tableau of cherubs and voluptuous sirens.
- Basilica of San Petronia: Marvel at the frescoes, sculptures, paintings and Gothic facade of the world's largest brick church, still unfinished after six centuries because the Pope considered it a threat to the Vatican's grandeur.
- Small group = more personal: Share your experience with only people you know; enjoy the luxury of deeper interaction with your guide and a more flexible itinerary.
About this Bologna Tour
Red, fat, and smart.
A city that's been around as long as Bologna – perhaps 3,000 years, in various incarnations – can easily collect more than one nickname.
La Rossa. La Grassa. La Dotta. The Red One: a reference to the color of its brick buildings and terracotta roofs, and/or Bolognese meat sauce, and/or the city's passionate left-wing politics. The Fat One: a nod to the overindulgence that comes with life in Italy's gourmet capital. And the Learned One: More than a millennium after it opened, Europe's first university – literally the first alma mater, its official motto being alma mater studiorum – is still a hallowed place of learning.
But as you follow your guide through the oldest part of this old city – down its 24 miles of famous porticos, through its magnificent piazzas, peeking into churches and basilicas and palaces and Town Hall – a different city moniker might strike you: La Sottovalutata. The Underappreciated. Because Bologna isn't generally ranked in the Italian pantheon: chic and fashionable Milan; pompous, domineering Rome; cultured Florence; romantic, canal-laced Venice; tourist-thronged Pisa.
That's just fine with the Bolognese. They like occupying their own tier. They live in one of the wealthiest and most advanced regions of Europe. In their own country, they consistently come out on top in quality of life rankings. They have two leaning towers, plus great theaters, museums, and music venues. Their city center and archeological sites are generally in better shape than Rome's. They live well, eat well, and work just hard enough to keep doing so.
Bologna likes that it's not top of mind when people in Tokyo or London or New York decide it's time for The Italy Experience. And they have no desire to be Tokyo or London or New York. Or Rome, Florence, or Venice, for that matter. They like being something of a travel secret, tucked away in the serene Po Valley. Which, when you've got something really good going on, is pretty ... smart.
When Pope Pius IV commissioned Flemish sculptor Jean Boulogne (since Italianized to Giambologna) to create Piazza Maggiore's fountain, a boldly sensuous, buck-naked statue of Neptune was likely not what he envisioned. Nor were the buxom sea nymphs with water spouting from their breasts. Scandalized, the papal representative headquartered in Town Hall condemned the work. But the artist may have had the last laugh: Viewed from the right rear, Neptune's left arm gives the illusion of a monumental phallus.
Please meet in the lobby of your downtown-area hotel or a nearby central location. Let us know the name of your hotel/preferred meeting location when you reserve this tour so we know where to meet you. Your guide will be holding a GoBe sign with your name.
Stores typically close for an afternoon break between 1:00 and 3:30pm but some remain open throughout the day. Shops are closed on Thursday afternoons, Sundays, and bank and church holidays.
Travelers must be able to walk approximately 1.5 miles over varying surfaces with steps and inclines. This tour is not suitable for travelers with limited mobility.
Walking Tour, Cultural, Scenic
Tour Participation Requirements
This experience is rated moderate. Full participation may require extended periods of walking over even and uneven surfaces, steep terrain and/or water activity in a slight current. There may be steps, inclines, cobblestone surfaces, and extended periods of standing. Participants with physical limitations should take this into account.
Suitable for children ages 6 years or older as they may find 2 Hours 30 Minutes of walking/standing difficult.
Special Medical Restriction
Participants must be in good health, disclose their physical fitness and advise any conditions that might impact their participation in the tour.
Full refunds issued for cancellations made 7 full days prior to the date and time of requested services. Cancellations made within the 7-day and 72-hour window will receive a 50% refund of purchase total. Purchases are non-refundable inside of 72 hours.
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