24 Hours in Bologna

Julia Blue Arm is a student at Colorado State University and an ISA Photo Blogger. She is currently studying abroad with ISA in Berlin, Germany.

The halfway mark of my adventure abroad has come and gone. During the time that has past, I have been fortunate enough to do a lot of traveling, both with my ISA Berlin group and with other friends. After surviving midterm week, I just spent over a week with my friend wandering through Italy, eating loads of pasta, getting lost, and making new friends along the way. One of the highlights of my trip was the eclectic and beautiful metropolis of Bologna.

An interesting feature of Bologna is that cars are blocked off from streets through the city center. Here you can see people strolling and standing in the street.

Bologna stole a piece of my heart. The small city in northern Italy is so serene and carefree, but vibrant with culture and joy. If you’re looking for an authentic Italian experience, but would like to avoid overwhelming crowds of tourism, Bologna may be your destination. Beyond the mouthwatering cuisine, the city’s history and architecture are major highlights. The streets are fairly simple to navigate, the people are friendly, and the overall environment of this college and foodie city is very inviting. Here is a look at a 24-hour glimpse of my stay!

I discovered many options in my search for overnight stay in Bologna, but was pleased when I discovered a youth hostel just a few steps from the heart of the city. Dopa Hostel is a small, quirky place less than a month old and very affordable. Although it just opened its doors, our stay was very pleasant. The owners were friendly and helpful in providing information about Bologna. The facilities were clean, and we woke up to complimentary breakfast. If you’re hoping to meet other young people during your stay, this hostel is a great way to meet other travelers.

The kitchen and dining room of the hostel was open to all guests, creating a nice little community during our stay.

Within one day in Bologna, it is possible to walk around the majority of the city center. In one day, we explored the city by roaming the streets and stumbling upon beautiful churches, buzzing piazzas, and all the gelato and pizza one could ever want. There were street performers scattered around major streets and piazzas, playing for those crowded around and filling the air with music. The locals and few tourists were strolling along, carefree.

These musicians were two of many street performers we came across. Several people took moments to enjoy the beautiful music.

As we explored the streets further, we came across a huge market. The market is held every Friday and Saturday from late morning to late afternoon. It is packed full with inexpensive goods, from clothing, to kitchen accessories, to handmade goods. My favorite feature of the market was a smaller section with a more eclectic variety. There I found African handmade items, tapestries, and jewelry made by metalsmiths on site.

Here is a glimpse of my favorite section of the market, full of energy, music, and artwork.

One of the most significant and unforgettable features of Bologna is its amazing culinary reputation. It is the food capital of Italy and also home to the Bolognese meat pasta sauce. In only one day, I indulged in a medium-sized pizza marinara for just two euros, a heaping serving of traditional Bolognese pasta, and, of course, gelato. This was extra exciting for me because I am lactose intolerant and have trouble being able to enjoy certain foods. Luckily, this was solved with pizza-no-cheese and lactose-free gelato. Thank goodness! So all you fellow dairy-avoiders out there, you can have hope in Bologna. Needless to say, I stuffed my face and I don’t regret any of it, not even one slice!

DELICIOUS dairy-free gelato from a small shop right in the city center.


Traditional Pasta Bolognese dinner at an elegant Italian restaurant.

Once you spend 24 hours in the enchanting city of Bologna, you will be eager to stay longer. One day is enough time to discover much of the city’s major attractions, but in my opinion, it takes a couple more days to really enjoy its culture and allure. If you ever find yourself in Italy, I hope that you consider a stop in Bologna. Don’t forget to try every gelato flavor and don’t hesitate to eat pasta at every meal!

The world awaits…discover it.

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