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).
Public Art & Architecture
Roaming the streets to visit Bologna’s public art and architecture is a great way to get to know the city. The best meeting place and
Libraries & Learning
Bologna La Dotta (Bologna the Learned) is one of the most academic cities in Italy, home to one of the oldest universities (founded in 1088).
Museums, Foundations & Galleries
Bologna is home to a wonderful and diverse spectrum of museums, foundations, gardens and galleries, which host thought-provoking exhibitions exploring history, science, technology, and Bolognese
Machines & Motors
Some of the fastest machines in the world are produced in and around Bologna, home to Lamborghini, Ducati, Malaguti and several top engine manufacturers. Ferrari
Live theatre in Bologna includes everything from dance to opera to traditional drama, with experimental theatre and plays performed in Bolognese dialect thrown in for
Cinema & Film Festivals
Home to one of the most famous film restoration institutes, several film festivals and, in the summer months, Europe’s largest outdoor film screen in Piazza
Bologna La Grassa’s (Bologna the Fat) reputation as Italy’s gastronomic capital is well deserved. Most Bolognese start their day with a visit to the bar
Another delicious, top quality food you will easily find in Bologna is ice cream, or simply – gelato! Opinions vary as to where you can
The Art of the Aperitivo
Aperitivi are a great way to meet friends after work and grab a bite to eat at the same time. Just about every bar nowadays
Live Music, Discos & Clubs
LIVE MUSIC CLUBS Via Mascarella, in the University district, hosts a number of clubs which all set tables outside during the summer to host the
FESTIVALS The annual Feste dell’Unita’ (Festivals of Unity) offer a glimpse into Bologna La Rossa (Bologna the Red). Beginning in May, these fundraisers organized by
PARKS AND GREEN SPACES IN THE CITY Giardini Margherita: between Via Murri and Via Castiglione, this centrally located park provides city-dwellers with a bit of
Sports Clubs, Associations & Indoor Sports
Bologna offers a club for every sport and hobby. Here is a sampling of activities, how to get started and where to find more information.
Outdoor Sports & Leisure
CYCLING AND MOUNTAIN BIKING Italians are passionate cyclists and there are a number of clubs for every age and fitness level. For road cycling or
SOCCER Bologna’s home team, FC Bologna, was founded in 1909. Games are played in the center of the city at Stadio Renato Dallara (formerly Stadio