Italy
Bologna

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

41 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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  • 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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  • Day5

    Arrived in Bologna

    December 21, 2017 in Italy

    Took a fast train to Bologna and we were checked into out apartment by 2. We spent the afternoon getting our bearings and doing some grocery shopping — not that we plan to cook much! What a beautiful city. We are right in the center of the old town and every direction you walk you see something beautiful. Heading out for an early dinner because we are taking an early-ish train to Ravenna for the day.Read more

  • Day8

    Day trip to Ferrara

    December 24, 2017 in Italy

    Another nice sunny day with temps getting above freezing, hooray! We took a morning train to Ferrara, where the main attractions are the 14th century castle, a medieval quarter-Jewish ghetto, and a Romanesque cathedral. Lots of walking, a cappuccino or two, into dungeons, through narrow streets and big plazas, but BAM-- turning one corner to see the facade of the cathedral covered for repair. Talk about bummers. I am no stranger to cathedral facades being covered, as the one in Santiago has been covered for years. But unfortunately I won't be back in Ferrara anytime soon, unlike Santiago. Oh well, we had a great lunch to make up for it, in the Osteria del Ghetto.

    After lunch, walking up to the Renaissance quarter, we passed the Resistance Museum and went in. The woman asked where we were from and when I told her the US, I added that we needed some training in resistance right now. Lots of interesting stuff from early fights for Ferrara independence up through WWII. Some very graphic and sad.

    Now back in Bologna, the city is busy and animated, not at all like I remember Lisbon on Christmas Eve. I'm sure we will have no trouble finding a good meal, once Joe gets up from resting his sore feet.

    Merry Christmas one and all!!!
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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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