One Hour From: Bologna

Underneath the arches ... all 666 of them
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The Independent Travel

Escape the culinary capital of Italy and discover a wealth of art, fast cars and some disco action.

Escape the culinary capital of Italy and discover a wealth of art, fast cars and some disco action.

Sanctuary of Madonna di San Luca

Play at being a pilgrim and walk up Guardia hill, once home to Bologna's army. The first hermitage was built here in 1160 but the existing church dates from 1723. A colonnade of 666 arches – the world's longest portico – marches three miles across the hillside to Bologna.

By bus and foot: bus 20 to the Porta Saragozza, then follow porticoed route south; 40 minutes.


If you like Romanesque architecture you will love Modena. The spiritual capital of Emilia Romagna is crammed full of Romanesque delights, such as the 12th-century Duomo, the finest in the region, with reliefs and sculptures by Wiligelmus. See the fabulous collection of paintings built up by the ruling Este family in the Galleria Estense. If you are lucky you might even get to hear home-boy Pavarotti, who occasionally gives an impromptu performance in the main square.

By road: A1 and follow signs; 25 minutes. By rail: frequent service to Modena; 30 minutes.


Check out the hot rods on display at the Galleria Ferrari, at the famous car factory.

By car: take the A1 to Modena and follow signs; 30 minutes.


The home of prosciutto, culatello and parmigiano is as good as Italy gets. With art treasures from names such as Correggio and Parmigianino to behold and big buildings including the 16th-century Palazzo della Pilotta and the 11th-century Duomo. Take in an opera at the Teatro Regio, which is right up there on a par with La Scala.

By car: take the A1 north and follow signs; 50 minutes. By train: frequent service; 55 minutes.


Escape the art scene with a seaside jaunt to Italy's equivalent of Blackpool, which has more than 150 clubs to choose from.

By car: A14 south; one hour. By train: frequent service; one hour plus.


Lovers of Byzantine art are in seventh heaven here. Treasures to see include fine mosaics such as those in the basilica of San Vitale, the Mausoleo di Galla Placidia and in the nearby church of Sant'Apollinare in Classe.

By car: take the A14 south and follow signs; one hour. By train: frequent service; one hour.

Magic of Italy (020-8241 5135; offers a three-night b&b break at the five-star Hotel Grand Baglioni from £567 per person, based on two sharing, including return flights. Europcar (0870-607 5000; offers weekend car hire in Bologna from £79.