Alberto Belli

Alberto Belli

CEO and Content Creator of Bologna-Experience

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The most Beautiful Houses of Bologna


Do you want to discover the most beautiful houses of Bologna? Come with us on this journey among the most spectacular and ancient private residences in the city!

Villa Aldini

Villa Aldini is a well-known historical building located on the hills of Bologna, in St. dell’Osservanza 37.

Built in 1811 at the behest of lawyer Antonio Aldini, minister of Napoleon Bonaparte, Villa Aldini boasts an impressive facade, also visible from the city center (especially from St. Marconi).

A curiosity about Villa Aldini concerns General Napoleon. It is said that, once he arrived on the hill, he exclaimed “ça c’est superbe” (literally, “this is magnificent”) and this fact encouraged Aldini to choose this place to build his own house.

In fact, Villa Aldini symbolized the materialization of the imperial presence on the territory.

Villa Aldini
Source: WikiCommons

Villa Aldini stands on the Colle dell’Osservanza, where the Romanesque church of Madonna del Monte, dating back to the 12th century (1101 – 1200), was once housed. During the construction, the remains of the ancient church were then incorporated into the project of the villa, becoming the boardroom of the building.

The exterior has a large tympanum with decorations representing the Gods of Olympus and a row of columns in Ionic style. 

The construction of the interior stopped in 1816, with the collapse of the Napoleonic Empire and it is still unfinished.

After 1831, the villa was sold to a private citizen, who wanted to demolish it in order to obtain building material. 

Fortunately, he didn’t succeed in his intent, as Villa Aldini included a traditional place of worship. 

To protect the building, was created a commission called the “Pia Unione” which bought the villa with a municipal subsidy and restructured the part of the church.

This place will never become a recognised place of worship because of the “pagan” construction of the building, but its presence allowed its preservation.

In the past, the villa was also used as a place of reception of migrants. Currently, the Municipality of Bologna intends to return Villa Aldini to citizenship, once again transforming its function into cultural use.

Villa Belpoggio Hercolani

In St. Molinelli 22, on the Colle di Belpoggio, you can find Villa Belpoggio Hercolani.

Initially, it was the castle of Belpoggio, then transformed in the XV century into a summer residence by Giovanni II Bentivoglio.

The building was almost destroyed due to a fire set by Spanish troops and it remained in a state of deterioration for many years.

After several changes of ownership, around 1764, the building passed into the hands of the Hercolani family. It is thanks to Filippo Hercolani that the great restoration work that involved the building took place, carried out by the famous architect Angelo Venturoli.

Starting from the remains of the ancient residence, the architect built the current neoclassical facade, with two turrets on the sides and at the center of which you can see a large obelisk with the coat of arms and the name of the Hercolani family.

The red marble exterior is preceded by a large staircase, at the top of which there is the entrance of Villa Hercolani.

Outside the villa there is a large park, which was the first English landscape garden in Bologna, still open to the public.

During World War II, the villa suffered lots of damages, which were then repaired with another restoration work. 

Currently, Villa Belpoggio Hercolani, as well as being a wonderful building to visit, is also the location of lots of weddings and social events in Bologna.

Villa Spada

Villa Spada is located in the center of Bologna in St. Saragozza, on the corner with St. di Casaglia.

Built in the XVIII century by order of Jacopo Zambeccari, the ancient villa in neoclassical style was bought in 1820 by the Spada family, assuming its current name.

The previous Italian garden was enlarged, including in its perimeter a part of the area that runs along the current St. Saragozza. Villa Spada garden is one of the largest gardens of Bologna.

With its 7 hectares, it extends for a piece of the hill above, making it the perfect place to admire the city center from above.

Villa Spada Bologna
Source: WikiCommons

Proceeding along St. Saragozza, where Villa Spada is located, you can reach the Sanctuary of the Madonna di San Luca, which stands on the Colle della Guardia, at the bottom of the longest portico of Bologna. Did you know that San Luca is the first stage of the Via degli Dei? A route through the Apennines that connects Bologna and Florence! In addition, if you are fond of trails in the middle of nature, you can not miss the five itineraries that we propose and The Via dei Gessi and Calanchi. If you prefer cycling, discover the Ciclovia del Sole.

In 1849 Villa Spada changed its function from private residence to headquarters of the Austrian troops.

Garden of Villa Spada of Bologna.
Source: WikiCommons

Curiosity about the villa 

Few people know that in the tower of the villa, two important characters for the history of Bologna were imprisoned: Ugo Bassi and the Lombard captain Giovanni Livraghi.

In the XIX century, Villa Spada became the property of a Turkish prince and then, in 1920, it was sold to the Pisa family that built the current entrance to the park in Via Saragozza.

In the 1960s, Villa Spada was then purchased by the Municipality of Bologna and opened to the public. Since 1990, it houses the Museum of Textiles and Upholstery “Vittorio Zironi” and the library of the Saragozza district.

If you love art, don’t miss our article on the museums of Bologna!

On the top floor you can find the skylight, called “Il Terrazzino”, open during summer, where the students can take a break from studying. 

Villa Aldrovandi Mazzacorati

Also known as villa Aldrovandi Marescotti, villa Aldrovandi Mazzacorati is a historic building of the XVII century located in St. Toscana 19.

Before becoming a private residence, the land was occupied by Camaldolese monks, whose original building was called Villa di Camaldoli.

Annibale Marescotti was the first owner of the villa and then it passed into the hands of the Aldrovandi-Mazzacorati family.

The villa is in neoclassical style, with a wide yellow-orange facade and a long row of Ionic columns. 

In 1700, inside Villa Aldrovandi Mazzacorati a private theater was constructed, which was a central place for the development of theatrical art in Italy.

With its inauguration of September 24, 1763, many shows began to be staged in the small theatre of the villa, in which sometimes even the owners of the house participated. This theatre testifies to the liveliness of the cultural environment in Bologna, especially as regards the aristocracy. If you want to know more about this topic, check the article Bologna: city of music

The structure underwent several alterations and renovations in the course of the time, until becoming the building we can visit today.

Theatre in Villa Aldrovandi Mazzacorati.

The National Museum of the Toy Soldier “Mario Massaccesi”

Currently, the structure houses the The National Museum of the Toy Soldier “Mario Massaccesi”, founded in the second half of 20th century. 

Initially the museum was created to place all the toy soldiers of the citizens of Bologna who otherwise would not have had further life. The first location was in Piazza Calderini 2/2 as the rent was low and therefore accessible; after the death of Mario Massaccesi, the first president of the museum, having left his vast collection of soldiers in inheritance to the museum, there was the need to find another seat that became, in 1990, villa Aldrovandi Mazzacorati.

The National Museum of the Toy Soldier “Mario Massaccesi” is in third place in order of importance in the Guide of the Toy Museums of Europe: at the first place we find Kulmback and, following, Compiègne.

What are you waiting for? Go visit the National Museum of the Toy Soldier “Mario Massaccesi”!
See also: The houses of the countryside of Bologna


  • Benocci C., Villa Spada, Roma, Istituto poligrafico e Zecca dello Stato, Libreria dello Stato, 2007.
  • Cuppini G., Matteucci A.M., Ville del Bolognese, Bologna, Zanichelli, 1969.
  • Gigli A., Verde Bologna: [parchi, ville, giardini], Bologna, L’Inchiostroblu, 1988.
  • Perazzini P.L., Villa Belpoggio, ora Hercolani, Bologna, Studi Locali Adulti, 2003.
  • Vlahov R., Il teatro di Villa Aldrovandi Mazzacorati, Bologna, Persiani, 2009.

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