Beautiful, historic Bologna is a mellow red-brick city known for its wealth, its ancient university and its left-wing politics. Surrounded by sprawling suburbs housing the hi-tech industries that fuel its modern wealth, the centre is surprisingly compact, a series of stunning porticoed streets radiating from the main squares of Piazza Maggiore and Piazza del Nettuno. The latter is named for Giambologna’s superb Neptune fountain, overlooked by medieval civic buildings. Piazza Maggiore is home to the great 14th-century church of San Petronio, and it’s from here that streets lead through the city’s famous food markets to the university district, with its fine buildings and churches. These include the Archiginnasio complex, built in 1565 as part of the university, and the Due Torre, the only survivors of the hundreds of towers built in Bologna during the Middle Ages.
Bologna’s main museums include the Pinacoteca Nazionale, the Museo Civico Archeologico and the wonderfully bizarre Museo di Anatomia Umana, crammed with the startlingly realistic anatomical waxworks once used for teaching.