Bologna/Emilia Romagna Advice

Old Jan 1st, 2008, 08:00 AM
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Bologna/Emilia Romagna Advice

I am planning an approximately 10-day trip to Italy for May or September/October with my husband and daughter who will be about 1.5yrs at the time. We would like to return to Italy and have tentatively picked Bologna as our base.

We want to stay in a lively, fun city with good train access to surrounding towns (we prefer not to rent a car) and we'd like to try some place new (we've been to Rome, Florence, Venice, the Veneto, Amalfie coast). We took our daughter to Rome for 10 days in September and had a great time. Our interests are eating, museums, art, shopping, walking around. We prefer to be somewhere that doesn't require a lot of advance reservations for museums, restaurants, etc because with a baby actually getting anywhere precisely on time can be challenging. We also do not want to have to move accommodations as too much hassle with all the baby gear. What we enjoyed most about Rome was walking around, sightseeing, eating long lunches and just soaking up the atmosphere.

We love art but museum visits can sometimes be cut short if our daughter isn't in a museum mood! Art-filled churches are great as they are easy to step in and out of or for making repeat visits. Generally our daughter is a good traveler and enjoys being in different places (and getting lots of attention).

A few questions about Bologna:

1. Is 10 days too long for Bologna if we are planning to take about 5 day trips? On our list of potential daytrip destinations are Ravenna, Ferrara, Modena, Parma, Piacenza, Piastole, Imola, Dozza, (maybe) Florence. It looks like Bologna is certainly a pleasant city to stay in but I am not sure if there are a lot of sites within the city itself. We considered Florence as a base instead but my husband and I have both there several times recently so we thought we'd pick somewhere new. We've also been many times to Rome and have spent time in Venice and the Amalfi Coast.
2. We are planning to rent an apartment. When we rented in Rome we went through an agency as I thought that would be more reputable/easier to deal with. The apartment was fine but I didn't see much benefit to the agency as they didn't provide any services while we were there. I was thinking of using vrbo this time. Are there any agencies that you would recommend for renting an apartment in Bologna? Any particular apartments you'd recommend on vrbo (we are looking for a 1-2 bedroom, decent size (at least 600sf), washer and dryer, bathtub for the baby and good location - see below)?
3. I am not that familiar with Bologna yet but since we are planning on day trips, I want to be within walking distance of the train station. It looks like the train station is about a 20 minute walk from Piazza Maggiore. How is the neighborhood north of Piazza Maggiore? We don't need to be across the street from the train station but just relatively close to make daytrips a bit easier. We'd like a nice neighborhood with restaurants, stores to buy groceries, diapers, etc. Is there a particular neighborhood you'd recommend or is everything close enough that location isn't as important as say, Rome. In Rome we stayed near the Campo di Fiori and loved the convenience of being near the sights but also being in a residential area with neighborhood cafes, grocery stores, a laundromat, etc. I am looking at this particular apartment for Bologna http://www.vrbo.com/133802 - but I'm not exactly sure where it is.
4. We can go in either May or Sept-Oct. The weather (temp and rain) looks the same for both months with more daylight in May. Are the students still around in May and back by Sept? it seems like the city would be a lot more fun with the students around. Any particular reason to go in the spring v. fall?
Thanks for your help. Our other ideas for trips are Vienna which would be more along the lines of our recent trip to Rome: a big imperial city with a huge number of sites and fewer daytrips.

We are at the very early stages in our planning and are open to other ideas if you have them.
Sally30 is offline  
Old Jan 1st, 2008, 08:12 AM
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The apartment looks good. I'd write to the owner and ask exactly where it's located.
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Old Jan 1st, 2008, 08:45 AM
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I would also want to know exactly where the apartment is located. I hate websites that don't give the street. It always makes me wonder if it's not in as good a location as they would like you to believe. I think a walk from Piazza Maggiore to the train station would take more than 20 minutes (at least it would take me longer!).

One other thing, though. I'm not sure what services you will get from an owner while you are there. Unless there is a problem with the apartment, they're going to let you in and show you around the apartment but wouldn't necessarily be available for additional help. It's not like having a desk clerk or concierge to give you help.

I was in Bologna for three nights in July. Although there is a lot to see there, I'm not sure whether I would want five full days there (after your five daytrips). Make a list of things you want to do there and see if you think you need five days to see them.
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Old Jan 1st, 2008, 10:40 AM
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I have spent a week in Bologna. Since I was taking a class in the mornings, I only had afternoons for day trips. I visited Modena and Ravenna.

Bologna itself does not have big tourist attractions. However, that was precisely the reason why I liked the city. It was so Italian without tacky street vendors. I did not see a single large bus tourist group while in Bologna.

I was there in late May. The temperature was already into the 80's (F). The presence of students added liveliness to the city.

Even though Bologna is not yet a main tourist destination, the city hosts numerous business conferences.

You might have a better chance at catching festivals in the fall.

We stayed near the Piazza Maggiore. We either walked or took a bus to the train station. I don't think there is no strong need to stay near the train station.
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Old Jan 1st, 2008, 11:39 AM
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We recently visited Bologna for the second time - and I'd love to visit it again. It's a lively, interesting non-touristy city, so I think that part fits what you're looking for. It doesn't have a lot of big attractions, but it has a large number, IMO, of beautiful churches and places to visit. My favorites were San Stephano (actually a complex of old churches) and another place that I'd have to look up the name of. The Pinacoteca Nazionale di Bologna has a small but pretty good collection, including a beautiful Raphael.

I would say it took us less than 20 minutes to walk from Piazza Maggiore to the train station. Our hotel, however, was on the south side of town, so I can't help you with apartments. There was a nice, local park near our B&B, where I went running. It had some nice playgrounds.

If you go, please try to have lunch or dinner at Drogheria della Rosa. It was one of our best experiences in Italy; the owner, Emmanuele, really cares about his customers and his food. He's also a lot of fun!
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Old Jan 1st, 2008, 11:51 AM
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San Domenico is south and slightly to the east of the Pza Maggiore; not too far from the restaurant mentioned by Lexma, above.
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Old Jan 1st, 2008, 12:39 PM
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Hello Sally, personally I love Bologna and my thoughts are with a little one you will probably lose time if and when she wants a nap and often it takes longer in the morning with a toddler that needs to be fed, bathed etc so with your interest in taking several day trips I think you would enjoy having an apartment in Bologna and would find plenty to do. It is a beautiful, interesting city without the hordes of tourist that so many places have. Although I am afraid that will begin to change as more and more travellers rave about Bologna.

Eating, ah you will be in the perfect city! Walking in Bologna is wonderful. As is shopping. And yes I think you will find plenty to keep you busy when you are not taking day trips.

I reviewed the apartment website and it sounds lovely although I noted they did not mention a clothes dryer. That didn't surprise me because clothes dryers are not used to the extent that we are use to. A patio was mentioned, that would be good with your little girl. No doubt there is a clothes rack for drying clothes in the patio but do ask!

From the reviews (only one directly from someone who stayed there and the others claimed to be by renters who wrote out the comments to the property owner) it sounds like the location would be good but I do wonder why a map or location was not mentioned on the website. Perhaps security reasons?
But I would sure want to know exactly where the apartment is located before making arrangements to rent it.

From what you said regarding your enjoyment of Rome if you can find an apartment that works for you I think your idea is very sensible and would be very relaxing and enjoyable.
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Old Jan 1st, 2008, 02:26 PM
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Thanks for all the responses. I intend to email about the apartment location shortly.

My hesitation with Bologna itself was if, for some reasons, the day trips don't work out (babywise or otherwise), will we be happy in Bologna itself. I think the answer is yes. It seems that the day trips are easy (quick to get to the train station, short train rides, variety of places) and that even if there aren't tons of superstar sights in Bologna, we will have a pleasant time just walking around and enjoying restaurants and shops.

I actually haven't found too many rental agencies that have apartments in Bologna - if you have rented an apartment there, please let me know how you did so and if you liked it.
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Old Jan 3rd, 2008, 08:46 AM
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Hello Sally,
we live in Bologna center and have worked in tourism for 30 years. We suggest you an apartment of 60sqms, walking distance from the train station with all the facilities that you require (a part the dryer, that in Italy is not so common to have), but there is space to dry the clothes outside, in a private courtyard next to the apartment.
We could also help with info on what to do around.
If you are interested, please visit www.bluone.com and send us an email.
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Old Jan 3rd, 2008, 10:42 AM
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Suggest you try

www.viewsofitaly.com

We are staying in one of the apts in late Feb. But afraid that any opinions we would have in mid March would be too late for your plans.
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Old Jan 3rd, 2008, 03:55 PM
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Thanks for the responses. Bluone, I have emailed you at the address on your website. PotenRon, September or October is looking more likely for our trip so I would be interested to hear your review of the apartment you have rented when you get back. Which apartment are you renting? It doesn't look like all have washing machines.
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Old Jan 3rd, 2008, 10:01 PM
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spent a week in Bologna last May... would have loved a few extra days (we too took a few day trips to other areas while staying in Bologna). We were there late May and it was a great time to go.

Piazza to train in 20 minutes... absolutely.. and it's a great central location to stay in.

Sorry - we stayed in a hotel so I don't know about apartment rentals but I can tell you that around the university there are several self-serve laundrys if you can't find an apartment that suites you.

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Old Jan 9th, 2008, 01:54 PM
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>>> It looks like Bologna is certainly a pleasant city to stay in but I am not sure if there are a lot of sites within the city itself. <<<<<

Bologna is full of museums, endless wonderful museums, if you like that kind of thing and the city strolls alone will keep you busy for days (architecture, churches, etc.) We were there for over a week and we could have used about 3 more days to feel satisfied. It just depends on what kinds of things you like to do. We also spent most of our time eating-LOL

One of the wonderful things about Bologna is that many tourists pass it up so you have an opportunity to see a little slice of real Italian life without the hussle and bustle of tourism. It really is a fun lively city and it stays up late, which I love compared to some of the smaller towns. They also have a wonderful jazz venue with music well into the wee hours, if you like jazz.

Feel free to email me if you want any Bologna advice, that's where my parents are from and we do love the city a lot!
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Old Jan 20th, 2008, 06:09 PM
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book marking
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Old Jan 21st, 2008, 09:51 AM
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Sally, we are renting the Grande apt which apparently does have a washing machine. I'll post my reaction to the apt when I return in mid-March.
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Old Feb 2nd, 2008, 07:26 AM
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Thanks PotenzaRon. I am interested to hear the review! We've decided to go in Sept-Oct and actually do 5 nights in Bologna followed by a week in Paris. Has anyone flown on MyAir? They seem to have cheap flights from Bologna to Paris.

We'll probably end up doing two day trips. What do you recommend among those I mentioned in the earlier post?

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Old Feb 21st, 2008, 12:38 PM
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hi!
my name's claudia, i was born and live in bologna so, apart from apt. or hotel (you can imagine i don't need them here^^)i can give you some advice.
bologna is great in sept/oct, right temperature, good weather (it's a matter of luck, as everywhere).
students to tell you the truth never left the city...they're always around, even in august because often they've got houses for rent and they spend cheap holidays inviting each other in the cities where they study^^.
if you spend 5 days you have all the time to see the highlights of the city, having a trip if you are in the mood (by train you can reach firenze in about 1 hour, rimini-by the sea for a loving walk on the beach and a fish lunch-1 hour and 20 , ravenna for mosaics and history, modena 30min i think for the city centre and balsamic vinegar...) or enjoy some particoular places of the city not very well known (e.g. bologna is full of underground canals, in some parts of the city the canals exit and you can see spots with homes with balcony and flowers just right over the canals, you see it through a little square window in a wall that you don't really expect-this place is beetween via augusto righi and via delle moline. or if you stay a friday and/or saturday you can visit piazzola market, thousand salers: you can find shoes, clothes, house linen, bags and belts...if you enter the little streets right behind p.za maggiore you can find the oldest and typical shops of the city -via pescherie vecchie and around- and while you're there you can rest for a lunch or dinner at tamburini. it's a food shop, the most precius hams and cheeses, fresh and typical pasta from tortellini to ravioli...it's a shop, a take away of ready to eat food but also a self service with a really really bolognese speciality.
if you want you can enjoy a walk along the san luca portico. it's quite long but you can also take a bus to the church on the top of the hill, it's a beautiful church between trees and green and you can see a great view.
bologna has got a lot of parks too.
the most famous are giardini margherita, a lot of green, a little lake with turtles and ducks, just take a plaid or a blanket with you and relax in the park.
if you want to try the best bologna's ice cream you really really have to go to gianni- via montegrappa, a lateral of via indipendenza, near p.za maggiore.
if you want to see the most important italian fashion names and elegant men and women you just pass the piazza and walk on via d'azeglio then turn left in via farini untill galleria cavour. really posh place but no matter at all if you have t-shirt and bermudas and go around^^.
all the places i've told are reachable on foot from the centre of the city apart from san luca and gardens but for them there are frequent buses.
these are only the first places i trought about, there are many, i hope you'll find this little excursus interesting and useful, just tell if you need to know something more.
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Old Feb 21st, 2008, 01:22 PM
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So my first thought is to loudly say BOLOGNA IS HORRIBLE, DONT GO!!!!! Only because my hope is help Italy keep secret the fact that Bologna is the best place on earth. I just spent 4 nights there and really didn't want to leave. The best food. Ever.

I'll save the gushing about particular places for my upcoming trip report.

Anyways, the porticoes up to San Luca were spectacular. Really, we spent most of our time there happily wandering around waiting to be hungry enough to eat another fantastic meal.

As for day trips, love Modena (took a tour of a balsamic vinegar house which was life changing). Also went to Ravenna for the mosaics, but ended up spending most of our time, once again, eating.

Have a great trip!!
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Old Feb 21st, 2008, 03:01 PM
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let's all go.
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Old Feb 29th, 2008, 09:04 PM
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Rosetravels: That made me laugh! I feel the same way, let's keep it a secret!
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