Cars, etc. in Florence, Bologna

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Jul 19th, 2017, 08:56 AM
  #1
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Cars, etc. in Florence, Bologna

We are traveling to the Piedmont for 5 days in August and then onto Florence, Volterra and Bologna for about 3 days each. We realize that cars are not allowed in most of Florence and Bologna and are wondering if we should try and return our rental in Florence (we're staying near the Ponte Vecchio) and pick another up to drive to Volterra and then Bologna. Much of this is vacation time with family. We're recently retired.
Then we are wondering if we should return the car in Bologna and take the train to Milan and then onto Malpensa to fly home, but are unclear how complicated this will be with bags? in other words, is it easier just to retain the car and drive to the airport from Bologna?
We've been to Florence and Tuscany but never to Bologna so any suggestions of where to stay/eat/visit would be appreciated!
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Jul 19th, 2017, 09:09 AM
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Are you willing to take a taxi to and from the car pick-up/drop-off in Florence? You certainly don't need a car IN town IMO but there are lots of parts of Florence where cars are allowed to be.

In terms of Bologna-Malpensa you'd be making one train change.
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Jul 19th, 2017, 09:10 AM
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Is the order set? If you could swing down to Volterra before Florence, you could then drop the car and use trains the rest of the time. Of course it depends on any day trips you had planned, and how much luggage you will have.
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Jul 19th, 2017, 09:34 AM
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thanks! we are going to volterra before bologna. is there easy public transportation between those 2?
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Jul 19th, 2017, 09:35 AM
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we'll have 2 weeks of luggage
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Jul 19th, 2017, 09:43 AM
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Two weeks of luggage differs dramatically depending on the person--one suitcase and a smaller bag would be it for me, so not onerous to get on and off a train.
RometoRio is a good site to use to get transit options, google will give public transit info as well. You will most likely be changing in Florence.
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Jul 19th, 2017, 09:53 AM
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The railroad station would probably be Volterra-Saline-Pomarance. You would have to change in Cecina and Florence for Bologna.
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Jul 19th, 2017, 09:56 AM
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Two weeks of luggage means one small rollaboard (21") for me - what does it mean for you? I would pack very light and follow yorkshire's suggestion to go first to Volterra, then Florence and plan any daytrips from there. If luggage really is an issue for you, though, this might not be practical.
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Jul 19th, 2017, 10:14 AM
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Two weeks of luggage? How much, if any, LAUNDRY is that? Yes, STINK smells.
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Jul 19th, 2017, 10:22 AM
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we're now thinking maybe we use the rental car to drive
from florence to volterra to bologna and then train it back to malpensa
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Jul 19th, 2017, 10:27 AM
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thanks, btw, for the rome2rio site. very helpful
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Jul 19th, 2017, 12:05 PM
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Were it me I would book a hotel with parking in an area of Florence that is outside the ZTL or check out the cost of putting the car in long-term parking somewhere. Your hotel might be able to help with that. I would do likewise in Bologna, and drive the car to Malpensa. The simplest thing to do is to go to booking.com and see what hotels with parking are available for your dates in Bologna. If you see a hotel you like, e-mail or get on the phone with the front desk and ask them if the hotel can be reached without driving through a ZTL on the day you are arriving.

You wrote that "much" of this trip is "family time" -- which makes me think maybe the part of the trip that includes Bologna is not, and therefore you could think of doing something easier than staying in Bologna with a car? For instance, if you stayed in Parma, it wouldn't be any more driving but it would be easier to park, easier to drive to Malpensa and you would get the same delicious pasta dishes. You could even visit Bologna by train if you felt like it.

However, if the reason you are going to Bologna is so you can visit Ravenna, then staying in Parma is not a good idea.
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Jul 19th, 2017, 12:22 PM
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Also, as to this issue of luggage:

I would end up in a pretty bad mood hauling any amount of luggage around train stations in summer in northern Tuscany and Emilia-Romagna, let along multiple switches to a hilltown like Volterra. These are some of the hottest parts of Italy in summer (and the first week of September is summer.)

The trade-off is that you really need to be scrupulous about parking the car somewhere very clear of the ZTLs. If you are staying near the Ponte Vecchio, get help from your hotel locating paid parking in the Oltarno. Get instructions for getting a taxi to take you & your luggage to your lodgings from the parking location. Ditto the place you go after Volterra if it's a city (although few are as truly tough as Firenze).
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Jul 20th, 2017, 10:36 AM
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this is all very interesting and helpful. do you know of a good place to stay in parma? is there enough to do for a couple of days?
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Jul 20th, 2017, 01:39 PM
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Again, best thing to do is go to booking.com and put in your actual travel dates and read reviews. I've stayed in a couple of places and the only one I didn't like was a Best Western (and it may have since changed hands and been renovated). Recent reviews are your best guide. I would want air con for sure, and probably parking, but Parma is small enough that if you stay in the central no-car zone it is usually easy to find parking nearby at the periphery. At one end of Parma there is an enormous historic garden, and there are several nice modern-ish hotels at the "far" end of the garden area (including Hotel Daniel, which has a fine restaurant & parking). But even though it is a 20 minute walk to the center, it is a pleasant area to stay in Parma and easy to reach if driving.

Quite a few of the attractions of Parma are only open in the morning, so a multi-day stay can be nice for visiting one or two after breakfast, and then visiting someplace else in the afternoon, for lunch or after lunch. Depending on your interests, it can be interesting to use your car to visit Torrechiara castle, or Verdi's hometown of Bussetto, famous Cremona, the pretty little hilltown of Castell'Arquato or unique Art Deco Salsamaggiore Terme -- or take a train from Parma to Modena, or Bologna or the lovely rural Tuscan town of Pontremoli, highly regarded for its pesto dishes (you can also drive there). In every direction there are foodie destinations for cheese, vinegar & culatello/proscuitto, mushrooms.

There is a lot to enjoy in this area, and very memorable food.
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Jul 21st, 2017, 12:20 AM
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Check to see if Palazzo Gotti (where I will most likely stay my next trip to Parma) is available for your dates
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Jul 21st, 2017, 12:21 AM
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Sorry -- that should be "Gozzi" !
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Jul 21st, 2017, 11:33 AM
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thanks so much for all this!! Much appreciated! Alas, they were booked...
booked mercure parma stendhal for now so we have something.
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Jul 21st, 2017, 12:41 PM
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Okay! If you've decided on Parma, here are some nice links for sightseeing, since it is sometimes hard to find information in guidebooks. It's overload, but it will give you a sense of the many layers of interest to the area

https://new.arrivalguides.com/en/Tra...PARMA/doandsee

http://goeurope.about.com/od/parmait...tles_parma.htm

https://www.tripsavvy.com/parma-trav...646.1500670224

http://blog.travelemiliaromagna.com/...castellarquato

http://www.parmaitaly.it/storia-k.html

http://www.parmaincomingtravel.com/n...rra-verdi.aspx

http://www.turismo.intoscana.it/allt...ny/pontremoli/

http://blog.travelemiliaromagna.com/...lages-compiano

http://blog.travelemiliaromagna.com/...emilia-romagna

https://perfumesociety.org/discover-...cqua-di-parma/

http://turismo.comune.parma.it/en/th...s/parma-yellow

if it interests you, read up on food specialties beyond ham, cheese & vinegar in the region. There are lots of treats -- like pasta with chicken livers, or stuffed pastas served with butter, fried bread and crunchy crumb cakes served with zabaione that are memorable and hard to fine anywhere else.
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Jul 21st, 2017, 12:43 PM
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And enjoy your whole trip!
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