Bologna Inside - Second Edition

[Skip to Page Content]





Below are a number of parks and green spaces in the city. For recreational areas in the greater area see Chapter 9: Provincia or consult the region’s website at

A few years ago, I was looking back while reversing my car and I felt a terrible pain in my neck. No way, Paola, I said to myself, you’re too young to feel like an anziana. So, being a little lazy and hating to sweat, I decided to take a yoga course, thinking it would be easy. Luckily I was wrong. I asked where they do the best yoga and everybody said the Centro Natura. Yoga became my passion - hard work but also a way of feeling good with my body and mind. Last year I joined another yoga lab, Yoga Le Vie. The people I met during class became close friends, who share my enthusiasm for the practice and the meaning, which goes far beyond the physical work.

Paola Fasano

Giardini Margherita: between Via Murri and Via Castiglione, this centrally located park provides city-dwellers with a bit of fresh air. There is a small lake, lots of grass to laze around on, a bar and an open-air disco on summer evenings. For the kids, there is play equipment, trampolines, a carousel and lots of space to play soccer or frisbee.

Parco Montagnola: just off Piazza VIII Agosto, this park hosts the large piazzola open-air market every Friday and Saturday, but is otherwise open to the public. There are fountains, a play area for children and a bar. Entrances are located at Via Irnerio, Via Del Pallone and Via dell’Independenza.

Villa Ghigi: once the property of a wealthy Bolognese family, this large park outside Porta San Mamolo has very pretty views of the surrounding countryside. Enter from Via Martucci, Via San Mamolo and Via Gaibola. Parking, running trails and picnic tables.

Parco Talon: located on the Porrettana as you enter Casalecchio, this immense park is a great place for long runs, walks and barbecues, too. Nearby is the Lido, a “beach” with sand and umbrellas, but you can’t (and probably won’t want to) swim in the river.

Villa Spada: beautiful 18thcentury estate, turned into a park. Also hosts the Museo della Tappezzeria (Museum of Tapestry). Enter at the corner of Via Casaglia and Via Saragozza.

Parco del Pellegrino: great views of the city from this park on Via Casaglia. It’s full of cherry trees and you can pick to your heart’s content in the spring.

Parco dei Cedri: you’ll find this great park within easy reach of the city center, just across city limits in San Lazzaro di Savena.

Parco Cavaioni: take Via San Mamolo, then Via dei Colli to reach this park high above the city.

Parco dei Giardini: this park has a small lake with surrounding jogging path and a gelateria. Enter from Via di Corticella, Via dell’Arcoveggio or Via dei Giardini.

A different kind of park is the university’s botanical gardens – a jewel in the center of Bologna that not even many native Bolognese know about. This park’s huge ancient trees keep it cool even during Bologna’s sweltering summer.

Orto Botanico

Via Irnerio, 42
Tel. 051.2091325


Italians are passionate cyclists and there are a number of clubs for every age and fitness level. For road cycling or racing, consider joining a cycling team. Teams are usually sponsored by local bike shops, which is the best place to inquire. There are weekly races from the beginning of February through the end of October. Bittone, Leopardi and DLF are a few cycling clubs that ride a bit less competitively and keep a leisurely pace. For racing schedules and events, check the UISP site, under ‘cicloamatori.’ UISP also organizes a series of group bike rides called cicloraduni with a pre-planned route and food stops along the way each week from early March to the end of October. Another cycling association is UDACE - Unione degli Amatori Ciclismo Europeo (European Cycling Lovers Union). Their website,, provides detailed information on racing and cycling on the regional, national and international levels. One of the biggest annual races is the rigorous Diecicolli (ten hills), held the first weekend in May: If you are looking to build a serious road or mountain bike, some bike shop recommendations include:


Via Reggio Emilia, 6
Tel. 051.453964

Due Ruote

Piazza Allende, 8
Ozzano dell’Emilia
Tel. 051.797103
Via Emilia, 292
San Lazzaro di Savena
Tel. 051.6255924

Patelli Bike

Via Matteotti, 1
Tel. 051.254218

I live in Bologna’s historical city center with my husband and three children - Sara, 2, Sofia, 4, and Marco, 6. We have always tried to involve our kids in children’s activities. Marco signed up for basketball through a program called Sport Insieme and it was a very positive experience. You could tell the instructors were passionate about it, that it wasn’t just another job. Our kids also enjoyed swimming at the Tanari pool. There are lots of things to do with children, it just takes a lot of time to get to and from activities in the city - we always take the bus. One thing that is lacking, though, is green space and playgrounds - that’s one luxury you don’t have in the city center.

Hae Kyung Kang


Viale Lenin, 4/a
Tel. 051.541464

For information on mountain biking in the Apennines, check out

Below is a selection of Bologna’s mountain biking clubs:

Monte Sole Bike Group
This non-competitive cycling club offers weekly group rides (mostly off-road/mtb) as well as weekend and week-long excursions.

MTB Bambana Bike

c/o Bar Monari
Via S. Cristoforo, 18
Ozzano dell’Emilia
This group meets every Saturday at 13 (14 in the winter) for group rides in the area. Their website also has a mercatino (market) if you are looking for a used bike.


The Italian zeal for cycling is matched only by their mania for calcio (soccer). Pick-up games are always going on in Giardini Margherita. Another popular year-round sport is calcetto, played outdoors or indoors with five players on a smaller field about the size of a basketball court. UISP organizes amateur leagues for both calcio and calcetto. Some teams are pretty serious, with sponsors, annual championships and attendance requirements. Others are more low-key. See ‘calcio’ on the UISP website for information:


Bologna Rugby 1928

Via Benedetto Marcello, 1
Tel. 051.4830084


Bologna has a number of tennis clubs, most of which are open to the public with a court fee that is higher in the winter for covered, heated or lit courts. Some clubs offer summer activities and programs for children. Tennis enthusiasts looking for ranking tournaments should check out the regional committee of FIT - Federazione Italiana Tennis (Italian Tennis Federation) at The FIT site also lists all the tennis clubs and schools and in the city and province. This information may also be found through Bologniadi at


Since the early ‘70s, runners and walkers in the province of Bologna have been organizing camminate, community events that attract podisti (runners/walkers) of all ages and abilities. On a typical Sunday morning you will find hundreds and sometimes thousands of these enthusiasts along the week’s delineated routes - usually 3, 6, 12 or 15 km with a number of half-marathons each year.

In addition to individuals, local running clubs, known as club podistici or polisportive, are also present at the events, some with close to 200 members. Benefits of joining a club include meeting Italians who share your interest as well as a guarded team tent where you can keep your personal belongings during the event.

In order to participate in a camminata, you should have a medical certificate or an athletic tessera obtained through UISP. A minimal participation fee includes a ristoro (rest stop) along the route and at the finish line. Participants also go home with a prize each week such as a bag of pasta or coffee, even a turkey leg!

In the fall and winter these events are held in the pianura (plains) and begin at 9. When the weather heats up, the events move to the hills and start at 8:30. Allow yourself plenty of travel and parking time. A schedule may be found on the website of the Polisportiva San Rafèl, the first club founded in Bologna in 1975:

For running or walking on your own in the city, see this chapter under ‘Green Space.’ The bicycle path that runs from the Certosa cemetery out to Parco Talon is a nice flat run, while the walkway up to San Luca makes for a steep climb. For a more gradual descent, take Via Casaglia down. Serious runners who like the challenge of a long hilly run should try the roads that lead upward on the southwestern side of town.


Even if you plan on working up a sweat, fashion never takes a back seat to function in Italy. The meticulously color-coordinated cyclists that zoom by on a Sunday illustrate this point. Sportswear and gear stores include: Giacomelli Sport, Decathalon, Fini Sport, Longoni, Protec and Villa Alpine Shop. See SPORT ARTICOLI in the yellow pages for listings.


For information on hiking, climbing, spelunking, skiing, outdoor swimming, the beach and thermal baths, see Chapter 9: Provincia.

I like to grow plants on my balcony, walk the hills of Bologna and cook with local ingredients. I love that at Baita the woman behind the counter advises me about the best kind of ricotta and taleggio to serve with pears. Not only can I choose from five different kinds of appropriate ricotta, I can also get her counsel that the capra would go better with pears than the mucca.

Karen Riedel