BOLOGNA PROVINCE | EMILIA ROMAGNA REGION

Photo of the city of Bologna

The Province of Bologna is one of the 8 provinces in the Emilia Romagna Region and hosts the Capital of the region Bologna.

Bologna Province Italy

WHAT TO SEE IN THE BOLOGNA PROVINCE

The city of Bologna is most peoples primary destination. It has 12 city museums, 1 national museum, 4 church museums, 4 private-owned museums, 16 University museums and a Jewish museum. But it is also a lively and cheerful place, brought alive by the thousands of university students who have been attending the Alma Mater Studiorum,  every year since 1088 AD, the year of its establishment making it the oldest University in Europe.

The charm of the landscape surrounding Bologna lies in small details: the atmosphere in its lovely porticoed piazzas, small baroque churches that appear unexpectedly at the side of a country road, abandoned oratories in the middle of fields and little-known museums with impressive art treasures. In fact you will be spoilt for choice: every town and village in this region has its own, old and often noble, story to tell. On the plain, you can visit jewels like San Giovanni in Persiceto, with its Renaissance and baroque buildings.

The first place to visit is the collegiate church (Collegiata) of San Giovanni Battista, built by Paolo Maria Canali in the late 16th century, on the remains of the old Romanesque church that gave the town its name. It holds fabulous masterpieces by Guercino, Francesco Albani, Ercole Graziani and Ubaldo Gandolfi.

East of the Via Emilia, in the lowest area of the Po valley, Pieve di Cento comes as a pleasant surprise: this small, sleepy town features a 14th-century fortress, a museum and an old well in the centre of the main square, which was designed by the same architect as the cathedral of San Petronio in Bologna.

Another charming place is Budrio, that in foggy nights seems to rise from the clouds, a fairytale town. It still has reminders of the past splendours, such as the Palazzo Boriani dalla Noce and several baroque churches, like San Lorenzo. This small town also offers an art gallery (Pinacoteca civica), an archaeological museum, and a very active theatre (Teatro Consorziale) attracting theatre-goers from the whole area.

The towns and villages around Bologna may be small, but they are irresistibly fascinating, like the medieval towns of Medicina (so called because of miraculous recoveries that took place there) and Castel Guelfo, sporting a classic manor with massive walls and battlemented round towers, so well-kept that it would seem natural to see damsels and armoured knights walking around town.

Time has stopped still in Castel del Rio, too: perched on a steep hill of the Apennines at the border between Emilia and Tuscany, it still retains its feudal atmosphere. Near Castel del Rio there are at least three other gems: Castel San Pietro, Dozza and Imola. The medieval town of Minerbio (so called because in Roman times it was consecrated to Minerva), once ruled over by the Visconti family, has an aristocratic  stronghold, the Palazzo degli Isolani and the Castello di San Martino. The entire town has a medieval air about it.

These places remind us of princes and ladies, artists and saints, but what about the common people? The folk museum in San Marino di Bentivoglio (Museo della Civiltà contadina) helps us understand how they lived. And, to get an idea of the kind of entertainment they enjoyed, visit the smallest puppet museum in the world (Museo dei Burattini), in Crevalcore. Another sight you won't easily find in guidebooks is the tiny village of Selva Malvezzi near Molinella, dating from the 17th century, where all the buildings, including an old apothecary and the central Palazzo del Governatore, are perfectly preserved.

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