New York, Paris, and Tokyo might be on your travel bucket list, but there are plenty of cities that don’t get enough credit and are well worth a visit. Underrated cities have their advantages – they can often be less crowded, more affordable and just as interesting.
Like a travel journalist for over 20 years, and I recently asked 175 travel enthusiasts, experts and agents what they think is the most underrated city to visit. The most popular answer was by far surprising: Bologna, Italy.
“Bologna is very promising and is about to become the new Italian city to visit,” says Tom Marchant, founder of a luxury travel agency. black tomato. “And as the birthplace of pasta bolognese, it’s a mecca for gastronomy.”
Bologna: The new “hot” city to visit
The many nicknames of Bologna — La Rossa (the “Red”, for its red tiled roofs), The Dotta (the “Savant”, for the old University of Bologna), and the most famous, La Grassa (the “Fat”, for its rich cuisine) – explain the best areas of the city.
Here are the top three reasons to put Bologna on your travel list this year:
1. The culinary scene is unparalleled.
“[Bologna] has quite possibly the best food scene in all of Italy,” says Jeff Miller, travel blogger at Our passion for travel.
Foodies can explore the city’s outdoor and hidden markets pastifici (pasta shops) and visit restaurants that have created favorites like pasta bolognese and tortellini.
You can also spend a day at FICO Eataly World (aka the “Disney World of Food”), Bologna’s 8-hectare theme park entirely dedicated to Italian cuisine.
Or take a day trip to the Emilia-Romagna region, where Italian gastronomy was born.
“Bologna has excellent access to Modena and Parma, both with famous products [like Modena prosciutto and Parmigiano-Reggiano] bears their name,” says David Hawkraven, owner of Travel designed.
Hawkraven often sends travelers to local farms, where they can sample Modena prosciutto — rarely found in the United States — or learn about the delicate process behind authentic balsamic vinegar.
2. Its architecture and history rival other Italian cities.
Bologna is recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site for its 38.5 miles of porticoes or arched walkways.
It is also home to 24 medieval stone towers, including Bologna’s most iconic landmark, the Two Towers.
travel writer Anne Marie Cahill says that climbing the Asinelli Tower, one of two towers open to the public, is exactly where history buffs start.
She also suggests visiting the unfinished Basilica of San Petronio and touring the Roman ruins that run beneath the Library of Bologna (you can also view them through the library’s glass floors).
3. It’s convenient and accessible.
Bologna is “entirely walkable”, according to Marchant, which will save you the cost of car rental. If you want public transport options, there is a city bus with tickets from just €1.30.
Marchant says the locals are friendly and the town is generally safe, making it a comfortable vacation spot. And the average price of a hotel room less than $200 per night for eight months of the year, according to travel search engine KAYAK.
Located in northern Italy, it is convenient to travel from Bologna to other Italian hotspots. It is only about 70 miles from Florence, 95 miles from Venice and 135 miles from Milan.
However, the city is a destination on its own.