Author Henry James once remarked that the Italian diet appeared to include a healthy dose of ‘sunshine and leisure and conversation’. In fact, tempo libero and socializing are important elements of the culture here, evident not just in Italians’ outgoing character but also in the community-centered architecture, leisure activities and even eating habits. Like all Italian cities, Bologna life centers around its public spaces and in the afternoons and evenings, residents head out into the city to fare una passeggiata. Epic, multi-course meals are eaten in compagnia and can last for hours. Hobbies and sports, even solitary ones like running, are organized into clubs.
Whatever your idea of fun – culture, cuisine, science, art, sports, the outdoors – Bologna’s diverse array of leisure activities offers something for everyone. If, however, it is more relaxing for you to ‘not do’ rather than do something, you won’t be admonished for being lazy, as time for riposo is also valued. Meeting up at a bar for an aperitivo or just hanging out with friends to exchange due chiacchiere is all part of the art of relaxing alla Bolognese.
tempo libero = free time
fare una passeggiata = take a stroll
in compagnia = with company
riposo = rest
un aperitivo = an aperitif/happy hour cocktail
due chiacchiere = a chat, literally two chats
From spending the morning in a museum to staying out late on the town, this chapter gives a general overview of what Bologna has to offer. Discovering your own favorite spots is half the fun, so don’t limit yourself to what’s here.
The city’s website, www.comune.bologna.it and the official tourist information guide for Bologna, www.bolognawelcome.com have listings in Italian and English, as does the University of Bologna’s website, www.unibo.it. You can also download the app MyBologna and have an easy access to all the information and tips about what to do in and around Bologna. You should also consider purchasing the Bologna Card Cultura which offers 12 months of free admissions and discounts for museums, theatres, cinemas, festivals and more (for information check www.cardcultura.it).