Day Trip from Florence - Bolognia

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May 8th, 2017, 09:42 AM
  #1
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Day Trip from Florence - Bolognia

We've been to Florence several times and going to Florence and Rome with a few days in Lisbon on the way back.

I'd like to include a couple of day trips. We're thinking of Lucca that we've already been to.

Also thinking of Bologna that we haven't been to.

Interestingly, when I do a search of day trips from Florence, Bologna never comes up.

It has me doubting the choice.
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May 8th, 2017, 10:00 AM
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I never tried to use the search feature here, so don't know how good it is. It does appear to me though that most people asking about day trips from Florence are looking for ways to see hilltowns and the wine country -- and of course, Bologna is a substantial city.

Bologna is a fun day trip for people who (a) are interested in food markets and (b) people who are interested in 500 year-old art & architecture apart from the Renaissance and (c) people who have some interest in the development of European intellectual life, since Bologna is the home of the first and oldest continuous university in Europe, formed in the 14th c. There are still 90,000 students in Bologna, taking classes in historic settings, and it gives a particular life to the town.

There are lots of quirky sights & curiosities in a compact area of Bologna, and it can be quite rewarding to ferret them out. Much of antique architecture is very beautiful. People who are interested in food (in particular fresh pasta) treasure their lunches & the markets. Bologna gets a fraction of the tourists that Florence does, so many people enjoy the feeling of being in a truly Italian city with a phenomenal history of its own but not being a crush of foreigners.

All that said, if the joy you take in going to Italy is being surrounded with stunning frescoes and eye-popping architeture, or strolling through dreamy little villages filled with flowers with views of rolling hills, Bologna is not that.

If you've been to Florence many times, and done many day trips from there, consider Pistoia, Marradi & Montecantini Alto if you haven't already been.

If you do decide to go to Bologna & want to see the markets, they are closed on Thursdays and Sundays, and it is best arrive in Bologna by 10.30am or so to have time to tour the market area before they start shuttering shops for lunch.

But if you
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May 8th, 2017, 10:04 AM
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sorry -- hit something by mistake.

Wanted to add that if you generally prefer small Italian towns over cities, but would like to see something beyond the Tuscan-Renaissance style, you can take the fast train to Bologna & switch to a 20 minute local train ride to either Modena or Ferrara. But have quite unique city centers, food that is totally unlike anything you can eat in Tuscany. Modena has a beautiful covered market. Ferrara has a significant Jewish history. Both towns are a big hit with people who like to bicycle.
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May 8th, 2017, 10:19 AM
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I think Bologna is worth a visit, for the reasons mentioned above. It provides a nice contrast to Florence. The sculpture by Niccolo dell'Arca in Santa Maria della Vita is unlike anything I can recall in Florence: terra cotta figures lamenting (very expressively) the dead Christ.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Niccol%C3%B2_dell%27Arca

The Sanctuary of Santa Stefano is also worth a visit: 7 separate churches from different periods.

Add a nice lunch for a taste of Emilia-Romagna food, stroll the arcades and check out the shops and markets. A full day.
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May 8th, 2017, 10:51 AM
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Bologna is worth not just a day trip, but a few nights at least. It is a superb, authentic and interesting Italian city, one of my favorites in all of Italy.

But if you do only have a day, then leave early and stay as late as you can.
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May 8th, 2017, 10:53 AM
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I think it may not come up because there is enough there that many people give it a couple of days rather than a day trip. But my first time there was as a day trip and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I have since been back for a longer stay but I think it makes sense to try it out as a day trip. Most people talk about how it's the 'best' cuisine, etc. but even if you are not a 'foodie' there is a lot to see. Great architecture, nice ambiance, etc.

Here's my photos of Bologna (and also Ferrara and Modena which are also great) http://andiamo.zenfolio.com/f600116703
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May 8th, 2017, 11:35 AM
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It is probably not regarded as a day trip from Florence because it is outside Tuscany.
You won't regret it. I find it one of the better large Italian cities. Lively, good food, and not the huge crowds as in Venice or Florence. It is a good base for a wide range of easy day trips, as mentioned aboven. On the fast train it's only a 30 mins ride from Florence. Buy those tickets well in advance on trenitalia.com, where you can get them for as little as EUR 14,90 (one way).
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May 8th, 2017, 01:23 PM
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Bologna is great -said to have more medieval buildings than any city in Italy - check www.trenitalia.com and www.italotreno.it/en for train info -you can always take regional trains that are dirt-cheap and require no reservations - just hop on any. Faster trains demand reservations for a specific train. For lots on Italian trains check www.seat61.com; www.budgeteuropetravel.com and www.ricksteves.com.
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May 8th, 2017, 03:48 PM
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I thought I responded a few hours ago. Maybe I didn't hit Submit.

Thanks for so many responses so quickly.

We've been to Ferraro a few years ago and biked there. We've also been to Lucca and biked the walls there as well.

Going back to Lucca is a possibility as our stop there was after a pit stop in Pisa and before training to Riomaggiore.

I'm trying to get a handle on Bologna. Is it a large sprawling city or is there an old city center where we'll want to spend the majority of the time?
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May 8th, 2017, 03:51 PM
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Isabel, very nice photos!!
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May 8th, 2017, 05:55 PM
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It is a fair sized city but most of what you will probably want to see is an easy walk down the arcade walkway of Via dell'Indipendenza.

There are also buses and taxis available at the station.
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May 8th, 2017, 06:20 PM
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We were considering the opposite, staying in Bologna and doing a day trip to Florence but we never found the time because the Emilia Romagna region had so much to keep us busy. That region has some of the best food. There are several day trips you can take from Bologna, like Ferrara, Parma, Modena, Ravenna, even Venice (1 h 30 minutes), Verona.. - some of these destinations merit overnight stays but if nothing you can check them out.
Agree with everything massimop and tonfromleiden say a 100%. Amazing pictures Isabel, wow! I have some portico shots similar to yours btw.
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May 8th, 2017, 07:01 PM
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Bologna is lovely and authentic and ohhhh, the food. It definitely felt like a city full of locals, and the food markets, the architecture, the portico...insert heart eye emoji. Piazza Maggiore was lively and fun with kids chasing a soccer ball around, bands playing all day and evening. Definitely worth any time you spend there. Really photogenic city if you're into that sort of thing.
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May 8th, 2017, 07:54 PM
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If you use a google map of Bologna and "zoom out", you will see a roughly pentagonal shape at the core of Bologna -- and that is the historic center. Bologna has a suburban periphery, but the medieval core is largely intact.

If you are arriving in the city for a day trip by fast train it is much more efficient to take a taxi ride to the piazza Maggiore than waste 30 minutes walking from the train station along the uninspiring via dell'Indipendenza, full of chain stores.

Although it is a quite atmospheric historic center that is full of interest to stroll around it does make sense to study up beforehand as to what the unusual attractions are indoors (it has more than Lucca does). You won't have time to see them all, even though each of them doesn't take long to see, but you'll appreciate the city more if you choose half a dozen points of interest and seek them out.
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May 9th, 2017, 08:48 AM
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I'm trying to get a handle on Bologna. Is it a large sprawling city or is there an old city center where we'll want to spend the majority of the time?>

Both.
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May 9th, 2017, 10:06 AM
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"If you are arriving in the city for a day trip by fast train it is much more efficient to take a taxi ride to the piazza Maggiore than waste 30 minutes walking from the train station along the uninspiring via dell'Indipendenza, full of chain stores."

A good suggestion for a short visit .
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May 9th, 2017, 11:27 AM
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The "sprawling city" of Bologna is quite easily bypassed. Most people only get a glimpse of it (if that) when they use the train station, which is just outside the historic city walls. No reason to spend any time there. Bologna is no different from Firenze in this regard. Most people never see the "sprawling city" of Firenze outside the compact Renaissance core unless they go for some special attraction or restaurant tucked away among the more modern buildings.
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