Half-day in Bologna, Italy

Bologna, Italy

Last October, we were in Bologna for an iOS conference #Pragma that takes place in different cities of Italy each year (online this year due to COVID). We took a train from Venice to Bologna, and then a taxi to the hotel. It’s still crazy to think that we transferred our flights in Wuhan, China to Italy just about 2 months before COVID started spreading in the city.

Walking around Piazza Maggiore

The square is the heart of Bologna and still preserves the layout from the 15th century. Upon entering the plaza, the marble fountain with bronze statues that was built in 1564 emerged. Then, the square is dominated by the Basilica of San Petronio. Since its construction in 1390, the main facade remains unfinished. We visited the basilica, admiring the details in the doorway.

Fountain of Neptune  @ Piazza Maggiore, Bologna, Italy Basilica of San Petronio @ Piazza Maggiore, Bologna, Italy

Dinner at Sfoglia Rina

We had one of our best meals in Italy this trip at this restaurant, which started as a small pasta shop by lady Rina in 1963. I had their tagliatelle with ragu, and I loved the flavor of the sauce so much with the side dishes. The restaurant also felt modern yet cozy, and English friendly (the menu has both English and Italian). After the meal, we got their chocolate tart getting ready for the climb to the Two Towers.

Sfoglia Rina, Bologna, Italy Sfoglia Rina, Bologna, Italy

Climbing up to Two Towers

After a fulfilling early dinner, we got tickets online to the Two Towers at a scheduled time. The two medieval towers are both leaning and were constructed sometime between 1109 and 1119. We climbed up the stairs for a while, some steps made a squeaking sound and I felt a mix of scared and amazed seeing how the wooden stairs were nailed. After some stairs exercise, the view at the top of the tower was all worthwhile and we came at a great time watching the sunset into the horizon.

Two Towers, Bologna, Italy Two Towers, Bologna, Italy

Taking a bus in Bologna

It was our first time taking a bus in Italy, going from the hotel to downtown Bologna. There are a few things to keep in mind before taking a bus (we learned this the hard way 😅):

  • Bus tickets are usually available at tobacco shops, newsstands, and train stations like the rest of Italy. It is best to have a ticket before boarding.
  • If there is no venue close by to buy a ticket (like near the hotel we stayed), make sure to check if a bus has a ticket machine to pay cash. It could be challenging sometimes since not every bus has a ticket machine, and I strongly recommend just hopping off and waiting for the next bus in this case.


After a short visit to Venice, we were really glad to stay in a much less touristy town. I enjoyed the conference a lot, listening to great talks and talking to people from many different places over the world (mostly Europe). I would love to visit more local towns in Italy next time when we all can travel safely, hopefully in the near future.

Last but not least, here are our lists of places and itinerary for our Italy trip to Rome, Bologna, and Venice.

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