There are many museums, art galleries and architectural landmarks to see in Italy, but Bologna is surprisingly cozy and offers a variety of cool things to do in summer! Follow the tips of your local insider! Here is our definitive list of the 10 top things to do this summer in Bologna to experience the city like a local:
1. Vespa Tour on the hills
The first activity on the list is the Bologna Vespa Tour, one of my favorite ones! This is an amazing thing to do in Bologna in the summertime. Since I was a student I used to go with my friends on a tour of Bolgna hills. We usually started from Porta Sant'Isaia, not far from our school, and followed the boulevards till Porta Saragozza, one of the best preserved gateways of the city. From here, we continued on Via Saragozza till Via di Casaglia to get to San Luca Basilica. Here we normally stopped at Vito's for a caffé shakerato before to proceed to Parco Cavaioni then Via dei Colli. On the way back to Bologna you can't miss to have a gelato or granita!
2. Gelato or granita? That is the question!
In the hot summer many locals replace lunch with a good artisanal gelato or maybe focaccia con gelato. At Cremeria Funivia on Piazza Cavour, I usually order a cone called "flower" where you can put till 5 different flavors of gelato at your choice! Focaccia, on the contrary, is a puffy bread which you fill with gelato. Really delicious! It's like a gelato sandwich. For more information about gelato and a list of the best gelato shops in Bologna you can refer to my article How to stay cool in this hot summer? Have an artisanal gelato! Another refreshing summer break I like very much is Granita, a snow-cone. According to the tradition granita was invented by Francesco Procopio dei Coltelli, a legendary cook who lived in the XVIII century between Sicily and Paris. He became famous as Le Procope, and he is considered the creator of modern gelato. Originally, Sicilian granita was obtained with snow from Mount Etna, the famous volcano, with the addition of honey, fruit, syrups and flowers. My favorite granita is the black or white almonds one by Galliera 49.
3. Bologna sandwich
Taste Bologna's most famous sandiwch called "panino alla mortadella" in the relaxing atmosphere of Giardini Margherita, the locals' favorite park. Our original recipe is different from the North American one. We don't fry Boloney or use mayonnaise. We just go to a delistore of the food market - Quadrilatero - buy bread, typically rosetta which means "little rose" because of the shape - then ask the grocer to fill it with the best Bologna, which we call mortadella! A glass of Pignoletto wine is welcome, too.
4. San Luca Basilica from dawn to sunset
San Luca Basilica is certainly one of the symbols of Bologna. The Bolognese like this place very much and most of them are devoted to cult of the Madonna di San Luca whose image is preserved inside the church. When returing to Bologna we look in search of the sanctuary located on the Colle della Guardia at 298 mt; once you see it you know that you are safe and sound back at home. The place can be reached on foot following the 666 arches which depart from Porta Saragozza. It will take you about 1h30 minutes. You must go early in the morning or at sunset. The light is incredible. If it is too hot or you are traveling with children, I recommend you take the San Luca Express train.
5. Caffé shakerato or Caffé Crème
Caffé shakerato is a coffee drink prepared with Espresso, sugar and ice cubes. The name comes from the cocktail shaker which is used to preapare this typical summer refreshment. The drink is caracherized by a delicious natural cream. You must taste it right after it is served to better appreciate the coffee aroma and the cream. You can find caffé shakerato almost everywhere in Bologna. Nevertheless to taste something different you must visit Caffé Terzi (n. 4 Coffee Shop in Italy) and try their the summer specialties called Caffé Crème. Espresso is served in an elegant goblet and topped with a soft light milk cloud which can be flavored with amaretto biscuits, vanilla, orange peel or cinnammon.
6. Dinner at Mercato della Terra or Mercato Ritrovato
The farmers' market takes place every Monday evening from 5.30pm to 9.30pm at Piazzetta Pasolini and Piazetta Anna Magnani. Producers from our territory directly sell fairly priced, seasonal, local products. Here you'll find the best local produce and taste local specialties. During the summer this market, which is a Slow Food project, also offers live concerts and many other events.
7. Under the stars of cinema at Piazza Maggiore
Sotto le stelle del Cinema is an unmissable appointment for the Bolognese: 50 summer evenings between June and August when you can watch movies in original language with subtitles in Italian and English in Piazza Maggiore, one of the largest squares of Italy, in front of Europe's largest screen.
8. San Petronio terrace: aperitif with view
Because of the restauration of San Petronio Basilica, Bologna's largest church, locals and tourists have the chance to reach the roof-top where in a temporary terrace from 7:00pm to 11:00pm can enjoy one of the most spectacular view over the city. Every evening the theme of the aperitif served is different. You need a reservation because spots are limited. The price of the tickets are donated for the restauration of the monument.
9. Le Serre dei Giardini Margherita
In the green heart of Giardini Margherita, the former municipal greenhouses, an abandoned public place, was regenerated and given back to the locals. During the summer at Le Serre - nurseries - evenings are rich of events. You can dine or just have a cocktail at Vetro, the right place to relax and refresh.
10. Cantina Bentivoglio jazz club: Mascarella in sfoglia
This is for sure a wonderful match: wine, jazz and pasta! Cantina Bentivoglio, Bologna jazz's temple, every summer organizes a dehor dinner based on fresh home-made pasta. Expert Sfogline - pasta-sheet makers, roll pasta in front of you. Dinner is accompanied by live swing music.
Do as the Bolognese do! Taste Bologna flavors in summer time and enrich your visit with one of our amazing tours such as Bologna Food Walking Tour, Food & Ferrari tour or Cooking class in the countryside.