Located in northern Italy and serving as the capital of Italy’s Emilia-Romagna region, Bologna’s medieval city grid is full of historical and cultural wonders that often stand in stark juxtaposition. Sometimes known as La Grassa (The Fat One), it’s where Bolognese sauce was invented. American Airlines is now offering four weekly nonstop flights to Bologna through the end of September. Here’s what to do when you go.
1. Bologna’s main square, Piazza Maggiore was created in 1200 as a way of bringing together commerce, trade and services. Orient yourself to the city, enjoy the architecture or simply take in the views.
2. It wouldn’t be a trip to Italy without seeing Renaissance artwork. Spend an afternoon exploring the Pinacoteca Nazionale, a national gallery with 30 exhibition halls dating back to the 13th century.
3. For a touristy but tasty experience, head to FICO Eataly World, boasting 45 pay-as-you-go street-food kiosks.
4. Situated on a forested hill, the Sanctuary of the Madonna di San Luca affords beautiful views of the region. You can access it by bus—or, if you’re up for it, hike 2.5 miles through the world’s longest covered portico, with 666 arches.
5. Get out of the city and head to the 28-hectare Parco di Villa Ghigi. Opened in 1975, the grassy knoll has walking paths, great views and seasonal guided tours.