We had scored a high speed train ticket to Bologna, quick and easy. It’s quite a large multi level train station and we had another 20 minute walk to our lodging over varied terrain.
The first thing you notice entering Bologna are the porticos (covered sidewalks with beautiful arches). There are miles of them. And the granite and travertine flooring of Verona has now became miles of terrazzo. It is quite stunning.
There are numerous cafes under cover where one can enjoy their aperitivo. My favorite thing during cocktail hour was to be given a small bowl of olives and potato chips with it. A couple of my faves right there!
When picking lodging, choose it in relation to the Square or Piazza Maggiore. We were here for 4 nights and chose Hotel Cavour Bologna. Well placed for anything we wanted to do. Really liked the hotel, large rooms, comfy beds and breakfast was included. We usually go the Airbnb route, but we booked this one after returning from the UK this summer during the heatwave without a/c, so we were gun-shy to pick lodging without a/c. We couldn’t make an Airbnb work for this stay.
The Piazza Maggiore is massive with streets and alleys spread out with restaurants, cafes, bars and shops. Most of this is pedestrian only. And on the weekends, the large streets surrounding the square and including the towers, become pedestrian only too. And everyone is out walking and enjoying. For most of our time we wandered the areas and neighbors off the square. Eating and drinking and window shopping. We really enjoyed the lack of other Americans in Bologna. I felt like it was very local, with on the weekend, Italians from surrounding areas coming in for a fun day with family and friends. Most people we talked to were Italian in Bologna.
Pasta with Bolognese was obviously big here as well as carbonara. This is where we really started experiencing Parma ham as well as Parmesan Reggiano cheese. We knew we were bringing cheese back home. Originally we were looking for the “white cow”, but then got interested in the “red cow”. In the end brought home a kilo of each! Our overall impression of food and drink here was excellent and cheap!
We took a cooking class one evening and made our own tortellini stuffed with ricotta and a butter sage sauce. Also a pear cake. It was about 20 minutes outside of downtown and they picked us up and dropped us back off. Easy and yummy!
We climbed the tower (buy tickets in advance), 500 steps up and the view was beautiful.
We took a day trip to Modena, about 30 minutes by train. There was a fabulous market there and of course needed some balsamic. Most of the shops around town ship home. We ended up with Guisti. The tastings were fun and very informative.
Another beautiful church and more beautiful stonework. The Duomo here is slightly less ornate than others and the close up picture of the stonework around the doors is amazing. The highlights of Modena could easily be seen in a day.
Overall Bologna was a favorite stop of ours and we would love to return.
Next stop the Ligurian Sea...