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6 Reasons Why This Underrated City In Italy Is The Next Big Travel Destination

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Italy is a must-visit bucket list destination for many travelers. Renowned cities like Venice and Rome attract millions of tourists every year.

But what if you want to travel somewhere a little less crowded and a little more hidden?

Bologna Italy two towers in the historic heart of the city

CNBC polled 175 travel experts and found that Bologna was the most underrated city not only in Italy but in the world. The list was intended to highlight cities that are less crowded and more affordable, but just as interesting as their more popular neighbors.

Here are six reasons why Bologna is the next big tourist destination:

A mecca for foodies

One of the most popular nicknames that Italians give to Bologna is La Grassa, which means ‘La Gorda’, thanks to the rich and abundant gastronomy of the region.

Of course, Bologna is best known for the pasta Bolognese that it has exported all over the world, but foodies will find plenty of delicious dishes here.

A happy woman taking a selfie with a meat plate and a cocktail in Bologna, Italy.

Parma is easily accessible from Bologna, which means prosciutto (often referred to as Parma ham) is in abundance here. At every turn you can find small restaurants selling hearty bowls of pasta or rich scoops of ice cream.

What if you just can’t get enough food? Believe it or not, Bologna is also home to a 20-acre theme park dedicated to Italian cuisine called FICO Eataly World.

Small and easy to navigate

The cities that you can explore without using public transport or having to take expensive taxis are incredibly underrated.

Bologna is a small but perfectly formed city, which means that it is easy to get around on foot.

You can walk from one end of the city to the other in just a couple of hours: unless you get distracted and stop to eat or look at something beautiful!

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A view of the skyline of Bologna Italy

There are a large number of self-guided walking tours available in the city, and it is a very pleasant city to walk in because there are very few hills.

If you prefer to save energy, there is an affordable city bus service, with tickets starting at just €1.30 each way.

A city rich in culture

The gallop of the city of Bologna has been designated a World Heritage Site by UNESCO, naming it the ‘City of Porticoes’ thanks to the many porticoes the city contains.

A portico is a porch found at the entrance to a building, usually supported by columns, and you’ll find dozens of these in Bologna.

Small secret window called Finestrella overlooking a picturesque and colorful canal in Bologna, Italy

But it’s not just these architectural curiosities that draw visitors to Bologna. Piazza Maggiore is located in the heart of the city and is a cultural and social center: there is no better place to go to people watch.

The Two Towers of Bologna are also a unique focal point, leaning like the most famous tower of Pisa does and dominating the city’s skyline.

The active culture of bars and cafes

You’d be forgiven for thinking that since Bologna is a small city, it’s a sleepy city, but this couldn’t be further from the truth.

Bologna is a city with a bustling bar and cafe culture: whether you want a latte in the morning, a cocktail in the afternoon, or a beer or two in the evening, you’ll always find somewhere to go and a room full of locals.

A woman drinking coffee in an outdoor square in Bologna Italy

Take the time to visit Caffe Pasticceria Gamberinini: one of the oldest coffee shops in Italy, and still decorated in the same style as it was in 1907, which means you’ll feel like you’ve stepped back in time.

If you are looking for a great night out, you will find that there are plenty of energetic and vibrant clubs if you search for them. Most of the nightclubs here are underground and packed with well-dressed twenty-somethings on the weekends.

A delight for art lovers

Florence may be the epicenter of Renaissance art in Italy, but art lovers will find much to appreciate in Bologna.

Bologna has more than 30 museums and more than as many art galleries. The jewel in its artistic crown is MAMbo: The Museum of Modern Art in Bologna, which opened in 2007 and is one of the best modern art galleries in Italy.

The entrance to the Museum of Modern Art in Bologna Italy

If you are more interested in classical art, then your appetite will be satisfied at the Pinacoteca Nazionale di Bologna: a gallery dedicated to Italian art from the 13th to 18th centuries.

With a real focus on art from all periods of history, there is something for everyone in Bologna’s many art galleries.

A fantastic base

Bologna is not only an amazing tourist destination in its own right, but it’s also a great base if you’re interested in taking a bigger trip and exploring all of Italy.

boat passing under the bridge in the canal of venice italy

From Bologna, you are only 70 miles from Florence. You could reach Venice by traveling just 95 miles. And Milan’s largest transportation hub is just 135 miles away. This means that when you travel to Bologna, all of Northern Italy is at your fingertips!

But with so much to see and do in this small but action-packed city, you may not have time to go anywhere else.

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This article originally appeared on TravelOffPath.com