Italy is a must-visit bucket list destination for many travelers. Big-name cities such as Venice and Rome attract millions of tourists every year.
But what if you want to travel somewhere a little less packed full of tourists and a little more under the radar?
CNBC surveyed 175 travel experts and found that Bologna was the best-underrated city not only in Italy but in the world. The list was intended to highlight the cities that are less crowded and more affordable, but just as interesting as their more popular neighbors.
Here are six reasons why Bologna is the next big tourist destination:
A Mecca For Foodies
One of the most popular nicknames given to Bologna by Italians is La Grassa, which means ‘The Fat’, thanks to the rich and plentiful cuisine in the region.
Of course, Bologna is best known for the Bolognese pasta that it has exported around the world, but foodies will find a whole host of other delicious dishes here.
Parma is easily accessible from Bologna, meaning that prosciutto (often referred to as Parma ham) is plentiful here. Tiny restaurants selling plentiful bowls of pasta or rich scoops of ice cream can be found at every turn.
And if you just can’t get enough of food? Believe it or not, Bologna is also home to a 20-acre theme park dedicated to Italian cuisine called FICO Eataly World!
Small And Easy To Navigate
Cities that you can explore without the use of public transportation, or having to take expensive taxis, are incredibly underrated.
Bologna is a city that is small but perfectly formed, meaning that it’s easy to get around on foot.
You can walk from one end of the city to the other in just a couple of hours: unless you get distracted and stop to eat or look at something beautiful!
There is an abundance of self-guided walking tours available in the city, and it’s a very pleasant city to walk around because there are very few hills.
If you’d rather save your energy, there is an affordable city bus service, with tickets starting from just 1.30 euros per journey.
A City Rich With Culture
Bologna city canter has been designated UNESCO heritage status, naming it the ‘City of Porticoes’ thanks to the many porticoes the city contains.
A portico is a porch that sits at the entrance of a building, usually supported by columns, and you will find dozens of these in Bologna.
But it is not just these architectural curiosities that attract visitors to Bologna. The Piazza Maggiore sits in the heart of the city and is a cultural and social hub: there’s no better place to go to people-watch.
The Two Towers of Bologna are also a unique focal point, both leaning as the more-famous tower at Pisa does and dominating the skyline of the city.
The Active Bar and Cafe Culture
You would be forgiven for thinking that because Bologna is a small city, it is a sleepy city, but this couldn’t be further from the truth.
Bologna is a city with a bustling bar and cafe culture: whether you want a morning latte, an afternoon cocktail, or a beer or two at night, you’ll always find somewhere to go and a room full of locals.
Take time to visit Caffe Pasticceria Gamberinini: one of the oldest coffee shops in Italy, and still decorated in the same style as it was in 1907, meaning you’ll feel like you’ve stepped back in time.
If you’re looking for a big night out, then you’ll find that there are plenty of energetic and vibrant clubs if you look for them. Most of the nightclubs here are underground and are packed full of well-dressed 20-somethings at the weekends.
An Art Lovers Delight
Florence may be the epicenter of Renaissance art in Italy, but art lovers will find just as much to appreciate in Bologna.
Bologna boasts over 30 museums and more than as many art galleries. The jewel in its artistic crown is MAMbo: The Museum of Modern Art of Bologna which opened in 2007 and is one of the best modern art galleries in Italy.
If you’re more interested in classical art, then your appetite will be quenched at the Pinacoteca Nazionale di Bologna: a gallery devoted to Italian art from the 13th to the 18th centuries.
With a real focus on art from all periods of history, there’s something for everyone in Bologna’s many art galleries.
A Fantastic Base
Not only is Bologna an incredible tourist destination in its own right, but it also makes a great base if you’re interested in taking a bigger trip and exploring wider Italy.
From Bologna, you are just 70 miles from Florence. You could reach Venice by traveling just 95 miles. And the larger transport hub of Milan is only 135 miles away. This means that when you travel to Bologna, the whole of Northern Italy is at your fingertips!
But with so much to see and do in this small but activity-packed city, you might find that you don’t have the time to go anywhere else.
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This article originally appeared on TravelOffPath.com