Named for Bologna’s patron saint, the city’s fifth-century bishop, the Basilica di San Petronio is the world’s fifth-largest church and a fabulous example of Gothic grandeur.
Construction began in 1390, but plans to enlarge the basilica were halted in the 1500s when the design threatened to overshadow that of St Peter’s in Rome. Thanks to this creative curtailment, the basilica’s facade detail remains unfinished.
On a tour of the basilica’s interior, admire the frescoed chapels and apse, the rich stained glass and marble. The exterior features detailed carvings of biblical scenes. Look out for the brass sundial embedded in the floor of the eastern aisle.
The Basilica di San Petronio fronts Bologna’s principal square, Piazza Maggiore, in the heart of the city.