Art & CultureArt & Culture

[Shooting Emilia-Romagna #3] Top 5 Photo Spots in Bologna

by /// August 31, 2021
Estimated reading time: 4 minutes



This blogpost is the translation of an Italian article by Oriana Lang (@itsoriana_) on; here the original version.

Bologna is not only the learned, the fat and the red. By the time the city hired new several sides, which I invite you to discover by walking through the streets and immersing yourselves in its everyday life. Bologna has a lot of things to offer that wait to be explored and experienced!

Here I propose 5 places ideal to take pictures, especially thought for those who have never been in the city. To people who have already visited them, I recommend a rediscovery: you could always be surprised by a particular never noticed before. The advice is: walk much (you have about 40 km of porticoes to stroll) and dwell on details or is this that will make your shots a little more special.


You can only start from the heart of Bologna, Piazza Maggiore. For those who love architecture, the San Petronio Basilica is a must to be photographed, with the incomplete external facade, the large vaults inside and the world’s longest sundial, built in 1656 and perfectly preserved.
The square offers several suggestions also for those who prefer street photography: the groups of umarells – a local funny name for elderly men – who meet under the arcades of Palazzo del Podestà, the children that learn to ride a bicycle or chase pigeons on the crescentone (the raised central part of the square).
On weekends do not miss the buskers and street artists with their original performances that enliven the city center, attracting the attention of young and old. In Piazza Maggiore you will always find something to photograph, you just have to look around!

Piazza Maggiore, Bologna


A few steps from Piazza Maggiore the so called Quadrilatero begins: a collection of narrow pedestrian streets that houses the most historic shops of Bologna. Via Pescherie Vecchie (literally Old Fish Shops) is my favorite: get inspired by the colors of fruit & vegetable stalls and by the rich showcases of Bologna’s typical products at La Vecchia Malga shop. A little further on, in Via Drapperie, the Atti bakery, founded in 1800: with its cute and funny signs is another must to be photographed, along with the beautiful flowers of Frida’s and the products exposed both at Simoni and Tamburini delicatessens. Also the two fish shops on the street always provide few moments of everyday life good to be immortalized, but you have to be nimble among customers waiting for their turn!
Finally in Vicolo Ranocchi, between Via Pescherie Vecchie and Via Orefici, there is Osteria del Sole, the oldest osteria in Italy. Open since 1465, it is the ideal location for a single charming shot that recalls past atmospheres. Here you can also have a break: order a drink and bring all the food you like from outside, here it’s granted! Let yourself be tempted: if not in Bologna, where?

Quadrilatero, Bologna


You can’t certainly leave Bologna without a pic of his ultimate symbol: the Asinelli Tower, with its 97.2 meters, is the highest, while the Garisenda, with its 47 leaning meters, could almost compete with Pisa Tower! Have fun finding the best angle, there are a lot of choices: from Strada Maggiore, Via Castiglione and Via Zamboni for a classic shots, from the former Jewish ghetto (in Piazzetta Biagi), Piazza Santo Stefano and Piazza Maggiore for more sophisticated views or, finally, from Via Rizzoli for a postcard shot: maybe a little less original but an assured success (even better if during the weekend, when the road and much of the city center are closed to traffic).

Due Torri, Bologna


The square houses the religious complex of the Seven Churches, one of a kind: inside, not to be missed, the Pontius Pilate courtyard with its marble basin and the Benedictine cloister with a double loggia and a central pit. Here, if you’re lucky, you can find a cat wandering around freely and undisturbed: for a real Instagram fan, what to ask more?
As for the square, the architecture of the buildings that surround it and the light at certain times of the day make it the ideal frame for a pic, especially to capture moving subjects (people who go by bike, for example) or scenes of everyday life (such as Bologna’s people sitting at the edge of the square). Do not forget: every second weekend of the month the square hosts an antiques market, filling up of colors, vintage items and curious persons: the best opportunity to take the shot you want!

Piazza Santo Stefano, Bologna


Perhaps not everyone knows that Bologna can be seen also from above; to choose just one site it’s very hard, so I propose you four.
The first is from the Asinelli Tower: there is no lift unfortunately, but 498 steps. Once on the top, though, the breathtaking view will make you forget the effort, I assure!
The second is from San Michele in Bosco, easy to reach (it’s the last stop of bus n° 30) and just few minutes from the historic center: here you can really admire the city in all its glory. Thanks to a panel, you may also know the name of places and buildings that you can see..what better way to learn more about the city?
The third is from the bell tower of San Pietro Cathedral, on Via Indipendenza, opened to the public on Saturday and Sunday afternoon. There are steps, but a quite easy single ramp. The view from this height is very special and still little known even among Bologna’s people themselves! On the top you will find one of the few remaining bell-ringer, ready to tell stories about his job and to delight visitors playing some knells.
The last view that I recommend is from the Specola Tower, in the newly renovated Museum accessible with a guided tour to book online on the Museums Site of Bologna University. A unique opportunity not only to observe the city from a privileged point, but also to explore the University area.
Enjoy the discover Bologna from above, but choose the right time for your shots: at certain times of the day some buildings may create unwanted shadows and, after the effort made, better not to risk! The best hour is certainly the sunset, as you already know. Ready to test your physical endurance? You will not regret it!

Bologna from above

This list includes only 5 things, but you don’t need me to tell you that Bologna’s porticoes are another must for photographers, right?


Elisa Mazzini

Social Media Manager for @inEmiliaRomagna and full-time mom.

You may also like


Interested in our newsletter?

Every first of the month, an email (in Italian) with selected contents and upcoming events.


This article has 4 comments

  • Amanda Flavell

    This is great! I am travelling to Bolonga for the first time in March and I was looking for some ideas for photography!
    Do you have any suggestions on good guided tours through the city? I am bringing two teen girls and I want them to see the city with a tour that they will be interested in. I am also planning to do a couple of day trips to Milan and Florence – can you suggest a tour guide company for those cities as well. Thank you in advance – Amanda

  • Marguerite

    Good morning I am planning on visiting Bologna on the 15th, Oct. next week.for three nights, its my 4th trip, I am living in Paris 3 years and want to re locate to Bologna

    I am a mature divorced woman with not unlimited funds, I am an american and I do not speak but a handful of Italian words..
    Do you have any contacts to help a lady moving to Bologna??
    any assistance would be eternally appreciated.. M

    • Elisa Mazzini

      Hi Marguerite,
      you can go onto the International Womans Forum Bologna website:
      You can click on Interest groups or come to the meeting on Thursday night Oct 17, there is a cocktail party then a talk, so you can network there 😉

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *