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We will be in Bologna for three days in early June. Can anyone recommend a small group or private walking tour of the city? My husband and I are very interested in history and architecture. We are also planning a day trip to Ravenna and would appreciate any recommendations for guides there.

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372 posts

I was in Bologna in 2019, so tour options may have changed since then. At that time I found it very helpful to check the Bologna tourism website for pre-trip planning. They have an office on Piazza Maggiore; a daily walking tour was offered and was excellent. The Bologna Welcome Card covered several historic sites, as well as the walking tour. It was very worthwhile.

I think the folks in the Bologna Welcome office may also be able to help you with a guide/tour in Ravenna. We stayed in Ravenna for a couple of nights; most of the mosaic sites are close to each other so are easy to access. We didn't have a guide; each mosaic site had an audio guide available. Well, we did get one "guided tour"...happened on a group of teens on a school field trip. When they heard us speaking English, a couple of them translated some of their teacher's information for us!

We really enjoyed Bologna! If you have time go to the Sanctuary of San Luca. Ride the bus or tourist "train" to get there, walk back to the city.

Posted by
7676 posts

We were in Ravenna after a cruise last June. It's famous for its mosaics. Doubtful a tour guide would really be required.

We just went into town to catch a train up to Venice.

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15365 posts

The university tour is very good and focuses on history and architecture. My only recommendations for Ravenna are [1] get there as early as you can and [2] take the bus to Classe for the mosaics at Basilica of Sant' Apollinare

Posted by
6524 posts

Bologna trips in September 2021 and October 2022 included walking tours each time with the Tourist Office on Piazza Maggiore. The first one was a general orientation tour of the downtown area, and was helpful, but was in Italian and English. The Italians seemed to get a more extensive, involved tour than the Americans and English who didn’t understand the guide.

The second tour was advertised as being focused on the porticoes for which Bologna is famous. It wound up being more of a stroll through southern and southwestern neighborhoods, after starting in piazza Maggiore, and there was very little discussion about porticoes. This was also in Italian and English, and the guide’s English is far, far superior to my Italian, but she was still hard to understand. I was able to ask some questions for clarification, but the Italian portion of her presentation was longer and much more extensive than the English parts. And those English parts were often hard to understand well.

If you can find a private tour (sorry, I have no personal recommendations), and the guide’s speech is easy to follow, that would be worthwhile.

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181 posts

There is some deep history within the Basilica of Santo Stefano, a complex of seven churches. The Basilica of San Domenico is filled with beautiful works of art and contains three early works of Michelangelo on Saint Dominic's sepulcher.

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Thank you for your very helpful suggestions. I didn't realize there were audio tours for the Ravenna mosaic sites. I've seen many comments about multi-lingual Italian/English walking tours in Bologna, where the English speakers felt left out. I will also look into the University tour. I didn't come across that in my research. Elly