At the end of April, 2015 we decided to take a short break in Bologna?
Whatever for you may ask?
There were several reasons:
1. Ryan Air fly from our local airport and the flight only takes two hours.
2. We like to visit places that are not obvious tourist stops.
3. We had never visited Bologna.
4. Bologna, the food capital of Italy, seemed to have a lot to offer on all fronts – details later!
5. The hotel was convenient – just a six euro ride from the airport and then a walk across the road.
6. All the places we wanted to visit were within walking distance or just a short train ride away from the nearby station so no car was necessary.
We arrived before check-in time at our hotel “Mercure Bologna Centro”:http://www.mercure.com/gb/hotel-1310-mercure-bologna-centro/room.shtml, but were able to leave our luggage in the secure room until 2pm without any problem. We were then free to carry out an initial exploratory walk of the area and to take some light refreshment.
We had chosen a preferential room which was quiet, on the fifth floor for just a few more euros and it was well worth it. The reasonable rate included tea/coffee making facilities and a fridge topped up daily with water and soft drinks, a dressing gown each and slippers as well as lots of useful freebies in the en-suite. We liked the fact that our room was a good size and overlooked the pretty garden to the rear. The room was cleaned and serviced promptly to a high standard each day. The lounge, with a bar at one end, on the ground floor was bigger and more comfortable than many hotels. It led on to a beautiful tranquil garden.
There was a huge range of diverse sights to visit and see and all within easy level walking distance! Museums, medieval buildings, gardens, churches, art galleries, markets, designer shops, restaurants and ice cream parlours (geleterias) abounded! During the weekend the streets around the Piazza Maggiore became pedestrian zones. There was almost a carnival atmosphere then with musicians, singers, jugglers etc enthralling the strolling passersby.
Each night we chose a different restaurant – all had interesting, reasonably priced and varied Italian food as well as great atmospheres. One night we sampled the home dish of the city a spaghetti Bolognese!
The high spots of our visit were:
• “The Two Leaning Towers of Bologna”:http://www.seeitalia.com/bologna/sightseeing/towers_of_the_asinelli_and_garisenda.htm
Why does Pisa have such global publicity we wondered after viewing these amazing twin leaning towers?
Apparently the Bologna towers near Piazza Maggiore were built around 1191
The towers became a problem and for safety reasons they were apparently knocked down and rebuilt again in the 14th century.
Of the two only Torre degli Asinelli, the taller one, opens in the summer. It is still the tallest building in Bologna. It tilts about 7ft out of true. There are 500 steps to the top and an entrance charge. We had run out of steam that afternoon so did not attempt the climb. However. we were told that the view is stupendous!
The second tower, Toree della Garidenda sways tipsily to the south and is 10ft out of true. In 1360. it became a threat to public safety so had it top lopped off leaving only a 157ft stump. A site not to be missed!
• “Museo Geologico Giovanni Capellini”:https://www.bolognawelcome.com/en/places/museums-and-art-galleries/collezione-di-geologia-giovanni-capellini-en. This museum houses a Dynamic Dinosaur, the Diplodocus carnegiei which fills the great hall, thanks to the daughter of Andrew Carnegie, the Scottish American industrialist and philanthropist! It is over 30 metres long and the height of a double-decker bus and is one of only four in the world!
If you are remotely interested in fossils this is the museum for you!
There are many more fascinating skeletons – although nothing quite to match the size of the dinosaur – as well as fossils of plants and fish – so lots to see and enjoy!
• Beautiful “Basilica di San Petronio”:http://www.bolognawelcome.com/en/places-to-see/history-art/params/CategorieLuoghi_34/Luoghi_129/ref/Basilica%20of%20San%20Petronio
We were lucky enough to find a free concert here in April of 15th and 16th-century music one evening. The acoustics and music were wonderful for the two organs and cornets. The musicians were so talented that the appreciative audience did not want them to go and continued clapping for a long time! There are apparently other concerts scheduled here so do not miss them if you are in Bologna!
We ended up spending all four of our days in Bologna in order to see everything on our list which we reviewed daily to ensure maximum enjoyment! I could offer you many other suggestions, based on our visit, but have decided not to do so in order that you can also sample the hidden delights of beautiful Bologna as well on your visit!
We are tempted to return again another time soon to explore Modena on the train as well as other nearby places.