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Nestled near the foothills of the Apennine Mountains, Bologna is certainly picturesque, but the city also pulsates with an infectious vitality. With the oldest university in Europe, stunning red Renaissance architecture, ancient basilicas and old-world piazzas, Bologna is steeped in classic Italian heritage. Head to the Basilica di San Petronio for your first taste of the city’s striking architecture. Bologna’s largest church (named after the city’s patron saint) the Basilica is the fifth largest in the world and dates back to the 14th Century. The Fontana del Nettuno is a huge fountain built in 1566 and is adorned with a massive statue of Neptune, trident in hand, standing in its centre. The Piazza Maggiore is a great place to relax and people watch. Set in the oldest part of Bologna, the Piazza is surrounded by wonderful old buildings and fringed by lively cafes and bars. Make sure you sample some of the city’s famous gastronomic treats, particularly tortellini and mortadella, in one of the many fine restaurants.
The stunning Italian countryside that surrounds the city is wonderful place to explore. Rent a car in Bologna and you can discover the area at your own pace. Porretta in the Apennine Mountains is an enchanting little town known for its natural hot mineral springs. The town also hosts several excellent music festivals throughout the year.