This tour includes a private English-speaking guide for the 2-hour tour of Bologna
You’ll meet our professional English-speaking guide in the prearranged meeting-point, which can be changed according to guests’ requirements.
This two-hour walking tour will start from Piazza Maggiore, the main square of Bologna and considered the heart of the city. In fact this square is surrounded by many of the most important buildings of Bologna. The square dates back to XIII century and has always been the scene of the most important civil and religious events in the city. Till to 1877, Piazza Maggiore was also the street market of the city. Starting from here, our professional guide will show you the five most important buildings overlooking the square: Palazzo di Re Enzo, the Palazzo Comunale, the Palazzo dei Notai, the Palazzo del Podestà and finally the Palazzo dei Banchi.
After that, a stop at the beautiful Fountain of Neptune, Giambologna’s mannerist masterpiece (1563-1566). This famous bronze statue depicts the god in the act of calming the waves. Because of the size of the statue, the Bolognese people call it familiarly "the Giant". Also the figures of the four children with four dolphins and mermaids at the base of the statue are by Giambologna. Finally the San Petronio Basilica, the main church of Bologna that dominates the square. The construction of the building, designed by Antonio di Vincenzo, began in 1390 and ended only in the middle of the XVII century. The interior of the basilica, in the Gothic style with three naves, creates a very cozy space illuminated by a soft light. The basilica is dedicated to the patron saint of the city, Saint Petronius, who was the bishop of Bologna in the V century. The main entrance is framed by sculptures by Jacopo della Quercia while inside there are the Bolognini chapel and the Cassini’s Meridian Line. Inside the Bolognini Chapel it will be possible to admire the fresco decoration attributed to Giovanni da Modena depicting the Inferno (the Hell) with a gigantic figure of Lucifer and, on his right, the Prophet Mohammed represented as an elderly man with a long beard, naked and tied, lying on a rock while a demon tortures him.
Together with the guide, you’ll walk under the Portico of the Pavaglione, the elegant promenade of Bolognese people, to reach the Archiginnasio. The word Pavaglione comes from padiglione (pavilion), the typical tent used to obscure the arch of the portico to protect the market stalls of silkworms that took place here every year since 1449. The Archiginnasio is one of the most significant buildings of the city of Bologna, located in the heart of the historical center; it was the seat of the ancient University and is now the seat of Public Library of Archiginnasio (specializing in the humanities and in the history of the city). The building is decorated with coats of arms of thousands of students and inside there is a XVII-century anatomy theater (designed by Antonio Levanti in 1637), used for dissections of human bodies and graced with rich sculptures.
Again a short walk together with your guide through the picturesque alley of Mercato di Mezzo to reach the beautiful Piazza S. Stefano. In this area there is a very high density of shops and in particular jewelers, butchers, stalls of fruit and vegetables, bakeries, shops with typical food and other very specialized commercial activities with long tradition. These are shops where often, from generation to generation, the families have handed down the craft. Piazza S. Stefano, also known as the Square of the Seven Churches, is of triangular shape and it is surrounded by important buildings such as the Santo Stefano Basilica. According to the tradition the Basilica was founded by San Petronio and it was intended to imitate the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem (in fact the Basilica is known as the Jerusalem of Bologna).
Next stop of our private walking Tour of Bologna, is the amazing Palazzo della Mercanzia. From the XIV to the XVIII centuries, it was the seat of the Universitas Mercatorum (Foro dei Mercanti) and of some guilds. Starting from 1797, with the French occupation, it became the seat of the Chamber of Commerce. The city of Bologna entrusted the design of the building to the architects Lorenzo Bagnomarino and Antonio di Vincenzo (as we have seen, the latter was already known for the design of the Basilica of San Petronio). The works for the Palazzo della Mercanzia were completed in 1391.
Finally, arrival to the landmark of the city: the Towers of Bologna (or the Two Towers). These two famous towers are called Asinelli (the largest) and Garisenda (the smaller), and their names derived from the families to whom traditionally they are attributed their construction, between 1109 and 1119. The Asinelli Tower is today 97,2 meters high while the Garisenda Tower is 48 meters high. Towers were very important in Bologna in those times. In fact, between the XII and the XIII centuries, the number of towers in the city was very high, possibly up to 180. While the reasons why the construction of so many towers is not clear, it has been hypothesized that the richest families used them for offensive and defensive purposes.