Italy
Bologna

Here you’ll find travel reports about Bologna. Discover travel destinations in Italy of travelers writing a travel blog on FindPenguins.

48 travelers at this place:

  • Day199

    A day out in Bologna

    January 11, 2017 in Italy

    Taking the old bus from the campsite, we enjoyed being driven in to central Bologna. The bus had blinds passengers could pull down to keep cool, but the majority were broken from overuse. The personal vehicles of non residents are banned inside the ring road so public transport was the perfect way for us to get in.

    As Italy's gastronomic capital and home of the world famous Bolognaise sauce, our main aim of visiting Bologna was to experience the food culture. Visually, the city couldn't be described as 'pretty' but it has some pretty impressive (and imposing) buildings. As soon as we stepped off the bus the people and activity around us started to make an impression. There was unfortunately several homeless people near the bus terminus and many shops had installed metal spikes in their doorways. People were busy and there was a strong sense of it being a 'living city'. Unlike some places that seem as if their buildings and atmosphere are there for show, Bologna was full of substance, real life and functionality. The smell of different foods being cooked wafted through the portico covered streets, the walls of which were plastered with graffiti.

    The indoor market 'Mercato delle Erbe' was the first stop on our tour. It reminded us of a smaller Grainger market in Newcastle. Its central stalls sold fruit and veg that looked so fresh, these were surrounded by open fronted shops selling fresh or cured meat, cheeses and handmade pastas. We indulged in a few bits and bobs, including some tortellini, a pasta reputedly created by a Bolognese innkeeper to try and capture the beauty og Venus's navel!

    We'd used Trip Advisor to seek out a couple of eateries with good reputations. The first looked nice, but a bit too formal and its dual language English / Italian menu made us think it might cater for the tastes of tourists rather than locals, so we decided on the second; Trattoria da Me.

    The break from midday to 3pm allows many Italians to take their time over lunch and although the Trattoria had free tables when we arrived, it soon filled up and had people waiting. The place was immaculately decorated with stylish lace and a gentle green, pink and blue colour scheme. The service was great and although we were offered an English menu, the waiters accepted that we wanted to converse in Italian and spoke clearly, even helpfully offering Vicky a better way of expressing what she wanted to say. Freshly baked bread was cut at the edge of the restaurant and brought to our table warm in a brown paper bag. Will had Tagliatelle al Ragu (you won't find spaghetti bolognaise in Bologna, but this is the dish it is based on). Vicky had Bollito, a traditional regional dish of boiled meat (cheek, tongue and brawn). They were great quality and although we weren't originally planning to have dolce (desert) we were too tempted when we saw them coming out of the kitchen. It was the best Tiramisù Will had ever had and a scrumptious Biancomangiare (Italian panna cotta) for Vicky. We were really happy with our experience and it will remain in our memories as one of the highlights of Italy.

    Hoping to see the Neptune statue, we strolled towards Piazza del Nettuno but found it covered over for restoration. Close by was the gargantuan San Petronio church. Like many Bolognese buildings it was brick built and looked very functional from the outside. We passed the two armed police officers to enter and just stopped and gaped at the scale of the building. Its central space wasn't divided into storeys but reached straight up to an arched ceiling. There were a dozen or so rectangular alcoves running down each side that looked small in comparison, even though each was bigger than our old house. Running at an angle along the main floor was a Meridian line, an astronomical instument designed to measure the passage of the sun with a series of ascending and descending numbers and astrological images.

    By this time we'd digested our lunch sufficiently to visit the 'Due Torri' and climb the one tower that still stood intact. 498 steps later we reached the open air top, around which we could walk for views of the city below.

    We finally made our way back to the bus stop past tailors, art supply shops and grocers. We again appreciated being driven home as we watched the car driver behind talking on his phone. We've seen many Italian drivers with phones held to their ears. This wouldn't be so bad if it weren't for their propensity to gesticulate wildly with their 'free' hand!
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  • Day18

    Bologna

    September 16 in Italy

    We decided on our way back to Venice that we would spend the afternoon in Bologna. Why not check out another town when you have the chance?? Well we didn’t stay for long. The place was not pleasant.

    We went for a walk from the train station towards some interesting ruins only to discover that they were not treated with any respect by the locals. They were covered in graffiti and rubbish and there were youths loitering, drinking and smoking, and just giving the place a bit of an sinister feel. There was some lovely looking fountains but they too were overgrown and vandalised.

    We decided we had seen enough, we were hot and tired, so we made a hasty retreat back to Venice earlier than planned. Bologna is not a place we would recommend but we did only see a small part of it.
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  • Day23

    What have we done?

    October 6 in Italy

    We catch the fast train from Florence to Bologna, it’s barely a 30 minute trip but we get off at our station and contemplate the walk to the Bologna Inn. The Inn is in the centre of the city. We are struggling with our bearings and one wheel on the luggage is a bit wonky, the Florence streets got the better of it. They have a 10 year warranty so that will be sorted when we get back to Canberra. Taxi it is. We get in a cab and show the driver the address. 2 minutes later we arrive. Poor taxi driver, I apologise for the small fare and even tip him. Where we are is not looking too wonderful, if this is the centre of Bologna, why are we here. We only picked Bologna because it was not too far from Venice and supposedly has good shopping. We enter the building and squeeze into the maximum of 4 people lift with our suitcases taking up more than 50% of the space. The Inn is on one floor of the eight floor building and we don’t know what floor it is on. The doorman says something related to Bologna Inn, sixth floor I think he said. So we get out at the sixth floor and can’t see the Bologna Inn entry. I run up a flight of stairs and there it is. Up a flight of stairs I carry the suitcases and we enter the Bologna Inn R&B. R&B, maybe it’s a rhythm and blues themed hotel? No it’s a Room and breakfast, maybe an Italian B&B. We check in and look forward to our room with fridge, somewhere we can put our milk. The fridge is there but no kettle. What’s going on? How can there be a fridge but no tea making facilities. 4 years ago we encountered this situation in Rome and bought a kettle but threw it out at the airport when trying to reduce our baggage weight. MDW says we will just have to buy another one because she knows what I’m like if I don’t have 10 cups of tea in the morning. Off we venture onto the streets of this ordinary city. Lots of traffic, city buildings and graffiti. We found a kettle at a shop a couple of doors down and were told it had a two year warranty. That’s useful to know. Back to our room we have cups of tea. This is the first time in a week we have been able to really enjoy a cuppa. Mind you we have to hide the kettle when we leave the room because we don’t think it is something the hotel management would approve of. I asked if I could use their kitchen to make a pot of tea and they said no, it’s for breakfast making only.
    Replenished in tea we look for a supermarket, there’s one across the road. Crossing the road in Bologna is challenging. There are pedestrian crossings but if there are no traffic lights it becomes a game of cat and mouse. We stood on the edge of the pedestrian crossing waiting for the traffic to stop but none did. We soon observed people just walk across and force the vehicles to come to a halt. Holding hands we did the same, if one of us is getting hit then we go together, that’s our motto. After safely negotiating a few crossings our confidence is increasing. We start to cross another road which did not go so well, MDW said she looked into the eyes of her potential killer. She was shaken.
    So being in Bologna what do you eat? German food of course, we walk the kilometre to a Bavarian restaurant which has schnitzel’s. We are now in an even seedier part of town but having Google maps, we are confident we will find our way back. It is interesting how reliant on the smart phone we have become. Most tourists walk around with phone in hand, much easier than a paper map. Because it is 7 o’clock we are the only people there that are eating. The food is pretty good but we are eager to kick back and relax. These travel days are quite wearing even though much of the time is spent sitting and waiting.
    The next morning we wait and wait for our breakfast to be delivered to our room. It doesn’t arrive so I venture out of the room to see where it is. MDW has ticked “Main room”. She says I was there when she filled out the form, I get the blame for everything, MDW says. The lady says she will bring it in which she does. Tea and toast, the bread is the ultra thin style although there are patisseries which sell delicious breads. Milk for the tea is provided but it is heated and frothy. I wonder how difficult it must be for tourists who come to Australia from non English speaking countries with different eating habits and customs. Only once have we complained about the food and that was when a toasted cheese and ham sandwich arrived instead of plain toast. Usually we give each other that knowing look of “here we go again” or have a chuckle. Although we are in a very civilised part of the world we have got out of our comfort zone at times which is not a bad thing.
    After breakfast and research we go to the old centre of town and find a breath taking area. Churches, museums and big towers. One has over 400 steps to the top. A challenge for me tomorrow. Bologna is not as touristy as Florence or Milan with much smaller crowds and no waiting time to enter buildings. Most have no entry fee. The basilica is very impressive inside and even had a church service whilst we were there. We caught a little tourist train to the top of Bolgna’s hills. The road was narrow and windy with many near misses but it just seem that’s the way you drive in Italy. From the top you could see all of Bologna which was shrouded in a haze.
    Back to the old centre we did more walking, past the exclusive brands area where the shops appear to try and out do each other with their window displays. We walk past a trendy looking hairdressing salon, no we enter the salon and 30 minutes later MDW is getting an Italian hair cut or this that hair cut by an Italian? Come back in 1 hour, MDW tells me. So I go walking and after 2 hours MDW is still in the chair. I sit at the cafe next door and slowly sip two coffees when MDW appears with her trendy new hair do and colour.
    The weather has been a bit miserable with a fair bit of rain. Many umbrellas are opened to keep people dry, us included but we are on our way to the markets. We only just found out about them and the lady at the Inn said they may not be on because of the weather. We arrive to find most stallholders are packing away their products. Most of the stalls are operated by nationalities from Asia, India and Bangladesh. The prices are cheap as is the quality. MDW is disappointed that it is closing up as she likes nothing better than a good rummage around at the markets whilst I carry on about the quality or ask why do you want that. We came away empty handed, bought some nice bread and back to the room. We have another day in Bologna and not sure what else we can see. We have seen all the historic buildings and I just have the tower to climb. On Sundays, Bologna shuts up shop for the morning.
    It’s Sunday morning and our breakfast arrives. We go through the ritual of putting the tea bag in the teapot, pour a bit in the cups then empty all the contents down the sink. This way the staff think we have appreciated the breakfast and no one has their feelings hurt. Maybe we shouldn’t order breakfast at all but at least the toast is something in our stomachs plus I’ve started eating too many croissants. The highlight of the morning has been FaceTime with our grandchildren in Canberra and Broken Hill, although this makes MDW homesick.
    Today I am planning to climb the Asinelli tower so we walk to the general area to organise a ticket. I ended up buying one online as I couldn’t find a ticket office anywhere, start time 2pm. We found a seafood cafe that offered fish and chips and a toilet. It was down one of the narrow side streets a bit away from the basilica and the other old parts of the city. We were the only two there but it was probably early for most people, 12:30, or it was going to be terrible and no one ate there. We ordered our drinks, cutlery was delivered then came our fish and chips. It came served in polystyrene containers and the batter was not crisp but somehow rubbery and white. We give it a go and the fish wasn’t too bad although it needed to be released from the batter first. MDW struggled, just the look of it was enough but managed to eat some of the chips. After paying and using the toilet it was approaching “climb the tower time”. MDW sat on a concrete block, wished me good luck and told me not to have a heart attack. I joined the queue of mainly 20 - 30 year olds. I couldn’t imagine it being too difficult to do the steps, my only problem would be my fear of heights, so hopefully I wouldn’t end up near a ledge or exposed window. Off we went, one step at a time, I did think about counting the steps before heading off but after a couple of flights that idea had gone. On the way up there were 4 landings and by the time I reached the first landing some people had stopped for a rest or maybe given up. The steps were narrow but the handrail made the task easy as you could almost pull yourself up each step. Once I got to the top I was faced with caged windows, the floor sloping down, away from the centre of the tower. Luckily for me I found an old metal hook which I was able to hold onto when I attempted to take photos. I was not handling this situation well, I need to get back down, now! The trip down was easy although the steps being narrow required more care. Job done my fear of heights is now even greater. I found MDW and we strolled back towards the inn listening to a few of the marching bands that were performing today. We called into the co-op to get milk and supplies for tomorrow’s train trip to Venice. A trial run of packing our bags completed with room for our kettle found, we both agree one full day in Bologna is enough.
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  • Day2

    Day 2. Exploring Bologna.

    August 26, 2017 in Italy

    In the cool of the morning we strolled up the porticos of the Via dell'Indipendenza to visit the Parco Montagnola passing through the market where you keep your hands on your valuables. The park was a disappointment, used as a camping ground for the immigrants who litter the park with rubbish. We passed quickly through it to the University Botanical Gardens. Not much open there although a queue had formed at a door due to be opened at 0830. It was after 10.
    The University museum was well worth the visit with magnificent ceilings and frescos. They have a wonderful collection of exhibits, as you would expect from the world's oldest University. It's naval rooms full of model ships were extraordinary.
    I gave a lecture in an empty auditorium and those not present missed my enlightening thoughts on the world. Shirl didn't seem impressed.
    We had a pleasant surprise in the Oratory of Santa Cécilia. Beautiful frescoes as where the ones in the Basilica of Giacomo Maggiore, where I practiced my Italian.
    Did you know that Bologna has its own leaning tower? Well one of its two towers has a distinctive lean.
    Lunch and an exploration of the old streets with a visit to the Basilica de Santo Stefano , quite interesting, followed by ice-cream and rest.
    Bologna is a compact, clean by Italian standards, with a nice feel about it. Well worth a visit.
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  • Day1

    Day 1. Bologna

    August 25, 2017 in Italy

    I forgot to mention we visited the oldest bookshop in the world in Lisbon. Bertrand' founded in 1774. Did not have the same aura as Livraria Lello.
    Have you ever had the feeling when waiting for your baggage that it is lost. We get that feeling every time in Italy. Alitalia was the airline that misplaced our bags many years ago and we still think it's going to happen again every time we visit.
    The bags finally arrived and we relaxed.
    Bologna is a city of 1 million and the street buildings gave lots of porticos for protection from the elements. They were welcome today to escape the hot sun. It has the worlds oldest university with Copernicus being one of its celebrated sons.
    Our Albergo is right in the centre of the historic district with many historical highlights within a 500m radius. This afternoon we tried to have a ride on Bologna's underground river and explore the underground tunnels. It was not to be. They have been cancelled as being too dangerous. We manage to take a photo but that was all.
    We thought the Basilica San Petronio was like a gian mausoleum , absolutely not atmosphere at all, unlike the narrow streets that surround it.
    A late afternoon snack at The iconic Caffe Tamburini was just what the Dr ordered as was the gelato that followed.
    Tomorrow's itinerary is planned and Shirl is writing her diary with the TV in the background.
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  • Day4

    Day 4 & 5: Bologna

    October 12, 2017 in Italy

    Day 4
    Waking up nicely in Switzerland means to open a window or step outside and breath the fresh air with view on mountains everywhere. Waking up in Bologna has to give you that romantic vibe of being in a ‘pittoresque’ (also picturesque from latin Pictor) cultural city. Waking up in this hotel certainly didn’t so we booked a more modest but wonderful looking guesthouse in the center for the same price. When we arrived there is was even better than we hoped for, we settled and moved to do some sight seeing. The Two Towers are a must see and certainly go in, before you can enter you have to walk to one off the squares to get tickets for it but that’s fine. We enjoyed the walks and the views and especially the lunch in the middle of the street. Finally some sunny outdoor activities ;-).
    Day 5
    Waking up was just perfect, we took it easy packed the car and had the morning in Bologna, we visited some left over that we wanted to see yesterday and when done we went for Florence (our main attraction of the Holiday). We learned from the traffic jams in Italy so we moved out earlier and we managed to almost drive through the whole city due to road blocks and end up in the middle where we needed to be within a reasonable time for the amount of traffic that drives around. But now the hard part: Parking. Actually it was easy, we drove the car into a Car park 30meters next to our accommodation and I noticed that there were only 10 cars parked and no spots left. But some cars where on bridges and there was this guy asking me how long I needed to park and when I said 48 hours he asked for my key. I gave it and a girl drove off with my car directly after we took our luggage from it. Ok….. that’s one way to do it, if you have a little bit of faith ;-).
    The place we stayed this time couldn’t be better, friendly staff took all the time (and a bit more also ;-) ), but our room had a view on the Duomo itself and a square below. Just perfect. We would drink some wine on that when we would be back from seeing Florence up close.
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  • Day321

    Day 322: Back to Italy

    January 2 in Italy

    New year, new travels! Time to get back on the road, and that meant leaving Germany for the first time since early November. It's been an interesting place, and I've definitely enjoyed it.

    But first - an early start! On the subway at 9am, and on the proper long distance train by 9:30am. We'd booked first-class tickets since they weren't much more expensive, but with the issue that we weren't able to sit together, and would be in separate compartments. But my compartment was basically empty aside from an older German lady and a couple of other guys, so Shandos moved in with no problems.

    The guys all got off the train at the first stop outside Munich - apparently it's the stop where ticket inspectors all get on, so they all leave? I dunno. We chatted to the German lady for a bit as well, since she spoke reasonable English and was very interested in Schnitzel.

    Although the train was supposed to be direct between Munich and Bologna, a goods train derailment the previous week meant that we had to switch to rail replacement buses between Innsbruck in Austria and then the first stop in Italy near Bolzano. It was a bit frustrating, but there was quite a big fleet of coaches waiting, and aside from the annoyance it actually only caused about a 30 minute delay.

    Back on the train we settled back in, watching the mountains of the alps go past and the piles of snow lying around after the recent falls. At Verona a family of four joined the compartment, saying that they'd booked the four seats together (which is probably why we couldn't book our seats together). Shandos volunteered to move, but then in the seat she had reserved in the other compartment was now occupied, and the man in it showed no interest in moving! And the conductor was similarly disterested - "it's just my job to check tickets". Thankfully there was one seat left in first class, so Shandos sat down there with Schnitzel for the next couple of hours.

    We'd bought some lunch supplies in Germany that had long since been consumed, so I went to the dining car to buy some food and drinks, only to discover that they had nothing. Literally nothing, except beers. Apparently because of the derailment, this Austrian train was stuck in Italy and due to contracts they weren't allowed to resupply in Italy, it had to be done in Austria. So they were just going around with nothing on board. Go figure!

    Finally our last stop at around 3:30pm, where a different compartment all departed, so Shandos and I moved our stuff into there and remained put for the rest of the trip. Watched the setting sun over the plains of northern Italy, glad to be back in this country and looking forward to exploring more of it. We both expect it'll try our patience a lot more though!

    Finally arrived in Bologna around 5pm, where we walked the 10 minutes to our apartment. A large studio and seems nice enough. Neighbourhood looks semi-OK, though so many parts of Italy are grimy and decrepit it's difficult to tell the dodgy places from the good ones.

    Walked a few blocks to a student eat street (Bologna is home to the world's oldest university), where after a few choices we ended up at a decent looking place. We both had the most famous local dish, of course. Though it's not spaghetti bolognese, which is a Western take on it! The original is tagliatelle al ragu, so thicker and heavier noodles with a ragu sauce. More meat, more oil, less tomato. Quite different, but very tasty.

    Back home and off to sleep, looking forward to our day trips to come!
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  • Day12

    Bologna

    November 24, 2017 in Italy

    I discovered a chipped filling 2 days ago and managed to call one of my clients nephew Giovanni, who lived in Bologna for a dentist. I soon found out that dentist don't work on Saturdays, but Giovanni, who had connections found me a dentist at 1830h on a Saturday.
    When we arrived in Bologna, he invited us for dinner. He did't speak much English but his wife spoke well.
    When Giovanni picked us up, he gave us a mini tour of Bologna, it's Roman gates and the 666 Arches that led to the Santuario de Madonna De Lucca, and Towers that the aristocrat built to show their wealth. The higher the tower the wealthier the family.
    Giovanni then took us to dinner at a family run restaurant called dai Ragazzi. He says as we walk into the restaurant, "I am the restaurant owners' lawyer." To which begs the question why a restaurant needed to have a lawyer. The table at the corner of restaurant where Giovanni had full view of the comings and goings of the restaurant, was quickly made available. Giovanni ordered us pizzas, tortellini done with mushroom sauce and a ragu, swordfish and dessert. We had to say to half way through the meal to not serve the swordfish because Ruby and I were too full. Alcohol flowed freely to. There was Lambrussco, only Othello label, ouzo, and limoncello for as much as we would like. It was a wonderful evening. Ruby and I rolled into bed at midnight, with bellies ready to pop.
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  • Day13

    Bologna

    November 25, 2017 in Italy

    The highlight for today was a concert at the Teatro Communale di Bologna. The conductor was Fredric Chaslin and a soloist Giuseppe Albanese playing the pianoforte. Giuseppe gave not one or two but three encores after his fantastic performance of Ravel with the orchestra. The acoustics at the Teatro was amazing.

  • Day211

    Italia, che amiamo

    June 27, 2016 in Italy

    Ciao! We've been having a wonderful time in Bologna so far. An acquaintance of Rachel's from Wellesley very generously offered to let us house-sit for her and her two kitty furballs while she's out of town, and we've been loving the homey feel of a real, lived-in apartment in a primarily local city as well as the tips they gave us upon arrival. (Big shoutout thank you to Leah and her husband Raffa!) The food is amazing: there's a fresh pasteleria down the street, next to a local organic vineyard's retail shop (with growlers), and we pick up fresh, raw milk and ricotta that a local farm stocks in a refrigerated vending machine. Suffice it to say we have dined and drank extremely well while we've been here :)

    The next couple of days we're venturing out to explore, heading to Florence tomorrow and Venice Wednesday. Look out for more updates!
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You might also know this place by the following names:

Bologna, بولونيا, Балёнья, Болоня, Bolonya, Bologne, Bolonjo, Bolonia, בולוניה, BLQ, ボローニャ, 볼로냐, Bononia, Bolonija, Boloņa, Bolonha, Bulåggna, Болонья, Bulogna, Болоња, 博洛尼亚

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