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Trip Report LowCountryIslander & Mom Go Back to Italy...A Bologna & Rome Trip Report

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I've been back from my trip to Bologna & Rome for about a month, yes I spent Thanksgiving in Rome! And I really debated whether or not to write a trip a report, so I decided (after reading Julie's Italy Reprise report) that I would try my hand at a slightly different report format than I have used in the past. I have typically written day-by-day reports and I can't guarantee this won't turn into that, but I am going to try with all my might to give snap-shots of a few general categories.

This first post will list more of the logistical types of things...flights, hotels, weather and then my plan for subsequent posts will be to write about the activities we did and (of course!) the places we ate, along with some of the people we met along the way...yes, we had 3 Fodors mini-GTGs on this trip...including one on a train to Ravenna!

Trip Background:

Although slightly off the “beaten tourist track”, Bologna popped up on my travel radar a few years ago. After seeing the city featured in an episode of Passport to Europe, speaking with a colleague who had been there (and enjoyed it) and noticing references to the city more frequently on the Fodors travel talk board, I decided it was time for me to seriously consider planning a trip there.

While discussing the details with my mom, who is my travel partner, we decided since we were going, why not make it worth our while and stay for two weeks, one week in Bologna and one week in Rome, because truthfully, our philosophy is, if we’re going to Italy we need to include some time in Rome. As it turned out we spent 8 nights in Bologna and 6 in Rome.

We decided on November for a few reasons, first being we could incorporate 3 paid holidays into the 2 weeks we would be away and that “saved” using 3 vacation days, yes, we hoard our vacation days! Another reason was that airfare in November was significantly lower then in September or October which were the other months we were looking at, and lastly we were able to get a good deal on our accommodations.

Weather:

November may not be the perfect time of year to be in Bologna, but it wasn’t terrible. Yes, there were several rainy, foggy days, but we also had several days with long stretches of beautiful blue sky and sunshine. One drawback to exploring Bologna (and Rome too) at this time of year is the shorter daylight hours, but to be honest, that didn’t bother us and sitting outside, under a heat lamp at a café having aperitivo in the evening is just as much fun when the street lights are on than when the sun is sparkling during the spring and summer.

Where We Stayed:

When looking for accommodations in Bologna I knew I wanted to stay in the center of the city. I checked several hotels that were recommended on Trip Advisor and by Fodorites. They all appeared to be great, and most were upwards of €100 per night. I did some more digging and found a reference on a Fodors thread to the website www.perfectplaces.com it’s similar to VRBO and there were a few, maybe 12, listings for apartments in Bologna. I found one that I thought fit the bill for us, here it is http://www.perfectplaces.com/vacation-rentals/32702.htm

The owner, Pietro, was a dream to work with and very responsive to all my emails. This was the first time I did a bank transfer to make a deposit and it could not have been easier. The price was right too…for 8 nights, including a €50 cleaning fee we paid €600. We paid 20% deposit at time of booking and the balance in cash when we arrived. And what a fantastic greeting! We were met by the owner’s sister outside the front door of the apartment; within minutes we were ushered inside and met Pietro, the owner, and his wife, big hugs and kisses all around, like we were long-lost family.

The apartment is true to the photos on the website (after booking I did note the apartment is also posted on VRBO), small, but immaculately clean, and very secure. We had a key to the front door of the building and a second key to the area accessing the apartment and a third key to the apartment.

The location of this apartment, in my opinion, was the best thing about this place. It’s located right on Via Oberdan, smack in the middle of the center of the city, just a few blocks from Piazza Maggiore, and around the corner from the main arterial street, Via Independenzia, going directly to the train station. There were plenty of shops, cafes, banks, and gastronomia’s within a few steps of the front door.

For our accommodations in Rome I turned to my award points on my credit card and was able to cash in those points plus a few hundred dollars to stay 6 nights at the Hosianum Place (http://www.hosianum.com/en/index.htm) . I’ve stayed at this hotel before and I really like it a lot. It’s fairly small with just 28 rooms, and the location is great on a small side street between Piazza Venezia and Lago Argentina. The rooms are clean and comfortable and the staff is friendly and accommodating. The breakfast, which is included in the room price is abundant and includes not only the typical cold meats, cheeses, breads and fruits but also hot items, such as scrambled eggs, bacon and sausage, and if cappuccino is what you want, be sure to ask the server.

Flight Logistics:

Mom and I typically fly Delta because we collect their sky miles. When booking these plane tickets we wanted to fly into Bologna and out of Rome. This wasn’t a problem, and for the outbound flight we flew on Delta’s codeshare partner KLM via Amsterdam into Bologna. On the return flight we flew on Delta out of Rome.

It had been a long time since I had flown KLM and I think it may be a long time before I fly them again. I was not able to print our boarding passes the night before our flight, but that did not surprise me since I had the same difficulty earlier in the year with a codeshare flight on AirFrance. We arrived at the Savannah airport early and were fortunate to get a very helpful desk agent who was able to check us in for all our flights, and print all our boarding passes, including the one to Bologna, which I thought we might not be able to get until we arrived in AMS.

The flight departing Savannah was slightly delayed, but that was not an issue because the KLM flight from Atlanta was also delayed. The KLM flight was full, and the seat configuration was 3-3-3. Because mom and I both like aisle seats I was sitting one row ahead of mom and through some grace of God, there was no one seated in the middle seat next to me. Ultimately this was not a significant benefit because I was not feeling well and no matter how hard I tried I just couldn’t get comfortable. The flight crew was not the best I’ve ever experienced, the food wasn’t very good and I’m one who thinks Delta doesn’t do a half bad job with their food, so you know my airplane “food bar” is not set very high. Since I wasn’t feeling well, I didn’t eat much, slept fitfully and had chills then sweats with headache and nausea. Believe me I couldn’t wait for that plane to land in Amsterdam!

We arrived about one hour late and it took approximately 30 minutes to get through passport control and security before we got to our connecting gate for the KLM City Hopper flight to Bologna. We had about one and a half hours to wait and left for Bologna just after 3pm.

For as unpleasant as the KLM flight from Atlanta to Amsterdam was, the KLM flight to Bologna was pure bliss…maybe that’s because it was only a one and a half hour flight!

We arrived in Bologna right on time at 4:45pm. We took a taxi from the airport to the apartment for €20. The ride into the city took about 30 minutes from the airport.

The return flight from Rome was a breeze. As we have done in the past we used Rome Cabs (http://www.romecabs.com/) to take us to the airport at the ungodly hour of 6am for our 9:45am flight. This is my 5th time using them and the drivers have always been on time for me, and very courteous.

Fortunately for us, I was able to score an upgrade for our Atlanta to Savannah flight segment, so although we were in economy for the flight from Rome, our luggage was tagged as priority…and was at the luggage carousel before we were! And we were able to board as priority passengers and get settled before the swarms descended upon the gate agents at boarding time.

The flight from Rome was a very pleasant one, there appeared to be a George Clooney look-alike sitting diagonally across from me, so at least there was a bit of eye-candy for the 11 hour flight! The flight crew was really great; they were a fun bunch and funny too.

Next Up....What We Did In Bologna

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