Parco della Montagnola
The 'Pincio di Bologna'
This is Bologna's oldest park (1662), the only sizeable one in the centro storico, and the only 'hill' north of the Piazza Maggiore. The Bolognesi take it as a symbol of their love of liberty – it’s really a mound of building debris, from the fortresses that stood here and were destroyed by the people on five separate occasions. The pile was covered in earth and landscaped in 1806, ironically on the orders of the new tyrant, Napoleon.
A fair, the Esposizione Emiliana, was held on the grounds in 1888, and after that the park took its current shape, complete with a charming turtle fountain. Get there by way of a grand stair from the 1890s that gave the park its nickname, the Pincio di Bologna, which overlooks some of the castle ruins.
On Fridays and Saturdays the park and nearby Piazza VIII Agosto hosts La Piazzola market, from 6.30am-8pm, with 400 stalls selling clothes, accessories, pots, pans, plants and everything in between. Underneath the Scalinata del Pincio, in a former garage and air raid shelter, Dynamo Velostation is a combination bike rental shop, left luggage depot, cultural centre and music bar.