Go Back  Fodor's Travel Talk Forums > Destinations > Europe
Reload this Page >

Flying Into Florence and Out of Bologna...Help with an Itinerary?

Flying Into Florence and Out of Bologna...Help with an Itinerary?

Old Sep 24th, 2008, 10:30 AM
  #1  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 3,009
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Flying Into Florence and Out of Bologna...Help with an Itinerary?

I am *this close* to pulling the trigger on a plane ticket from SEA to Italy for March 2009 (price only $650 with one stop through CDG!). Why into FLR and out of Bologna? Because that combo allows for a 1h15m layover in CDG both ways...otherwise a connection is under one hour which seems like lunacy.

I am a mid30s female solo traveler who has been to Italy a few times before with my ex. Have been to Venice, Verona, Florence, Tuscany (Montalcino, Montepulciano, Siena, Pienza, San Gimmy), and Positano...so my goal is to go somewhere new.

My trip would be 6 nights long...so a pretty quick trip. My thought is to arrive in Florence and immediately get out of town, and have brainstormed on a few possible itineraries.

Itinerary 1
* From Florence, head to Spello.
* Spello 5 nights, head to Bologna
* Bologna 1 night, head home
(could be varied with 4 nights Spello, 2 nights Bologna)

Itinerary 2
* From Florence, head to Spello
* Spello 3 nights
* Ravenna 2 nights
* Bologna 1 night
(seems like a lot of moving around)

Itinerary 3
From Florence, head to Parma or Bologna...stay put for the whole trip and use it as a base for day tripping. I think I could fly into and out of Bologna if this seems to be best option.

Any thoughts on these possible interaries? I'm not opposed to driving. Interested in good wine, great food (though I don't eat anything with 4 legs), maybe some cooking classes, good wandering. My ideal bases will be someplace that has enough life in evenings to be interesting (good cafes, restaurants) but not interested in big nightclubs. As a measure, my favorite city in Italy is Venice and my least favorite is Florence.

In Umbria, I picked Spello because I was supposed to go there in Nov 2006 but had to cancel that trip. I'm open to other suggestions that may be a better base in Umbria.

I know I'm vague...but hopefully not too vague. This would be my first solo trip to Italy and for some reason it seems daunting to go it alone. I've been reading solo Italy trip reports to get me motivated!
beanweb24 is offline  
Old Sep 24th, 2008, 10:41 AM
  #2  
 
Join Date: Apr 2006
Posts: 126
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Hi, Bean - since you don't want to spend any time in Florence, there's really no point in flying there when you mentioned that you can get in and out of BLQ, which you haven't seen. Spello is a good 3 hours drive from BLQ and it's quite small, though very lovely. I don't think you would want to make that your base. In Umbria, where Spello is located, there are loads of hilltop towns to visit, and loads of hotels and agriturismo, so it would be helpful to know your budget in order to recommend places..

You did say you wanted enough "life" in the evenings to keep yourself busy, and that wouldn't be Spello. Bologna, on the other hand, being an ancient university town, as is Perugia in Umbria, always has plenty to do. Since Umbria is less-populated than Tuscany, the towns can be quite remote one from the other, and you won't want necessarily to be driving at night after a few glasses of lovely local wines, so if you could be a bit less vague about budget it will be easier to suggest not only a good base of operations, but a good hotel/B & B, whichever you would like.
sandra3120 is offline  
Old Sep 24th, 2008, 11:01 AM
  #3  
 
Join Date: Apr 2006
Posts: 126
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Bean- I forgot to mention that you can see Spello, not far from Perugia, in half a day - it's that small, so another reason I'd pick a different base.
sandra3120 is offline  
Old Sep 24th, 2008, 11:03 AM
  #4  
 
Join Date: Mar 2008
Posts: 8,798
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Your itinerary three is exactly what I am starting to plan. There is so much to see and do within a short train ride of Bologna.
iamq is offline  
Old Sep 24th, 2008, 11:06 AM
  #5  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 3,009
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Your point about Umbrian towns being spread out (and not good for traveling to/from after wine) is well taken.

I'm trying to focus more on a possible general itinerary now and will figure out lodging/transport/budget once I determine whether or not I really want to make this trip happen. I'm also not super concerned with budget, as I have some discounts which I can take advantage of in hotels, and I'm also open to renting an apartment which is usually less expensive than hotel lodging.

I do enjoy university towns, so Bologna and Perugia sound appealing for those reasons.

Near Bologna, could you recommend some worthwhile day trips? I was reading the Bologna forum at Trip Advisor and there seems to be some negative feelings about using Bologna as a base versus Parma (with Parma being described as more "authentic Italian experience&quot.
beanweb24 is offline  
Old Sep 24th, 2008, 11:22 AM
  #6  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 3,214
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
We've been to Bologna twice, each time for far less time than we'd like. And we enjoy the city more each time we go. I think it has what you're looking for, though I haven't been to Parma, so I can't compare the two.

The Bologna airport is a breeze - we flew into here on our last trip, and I think there's one luggage carousel, and we were out of the airport in minutes, with no hassles, and a quick cab ride into Bologna. (We flew out of Milan, so I can't tell you what it's like to fly out of Bologna.)

From Bologna, you could visit any of the cities and towns in the area, by car or train. Ferrara (very enjoyable), Ravenna (a must-see, IMHO), Parma, Padua, even Venice.

Bologna is an untouristy city with great food, people-watching and cafes (in fact, my computer screensaver is the view from a cafe in the main piazza in Bologna). There's enough of interest in the city to occupy your time in between day trips elsewhere.

Spello is also nice, but yes, much, much smaller. We spent two nights in Spello, and it was great in the evenings after we visited other places in the area. We did enjoy the Roman ruins in Spello, but it was primarily a relaxing base town from which to visit other places in Umbria.
Lexma90 is offline  
Old Sep 24th, 2008, 11:23 AM
  #7  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 16,525
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
I would consider Lucca as my base location. It is March after all and you may want to have a base town that has more features than Spello. Include Volterra and Garfagnana in your day trips from Lucca.
bobthenavigator is offline  
Old Sep 24th, 2008, 11:24 AM
  #8  
 
Join Date: Sep 2008
Posts: 162
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
We love Bello Spello but agree it is a quiet town. Then again there are lots of nice guys to meet in town;-)

If you are into art you could spend much more than 4 hours in Spello. Lots of local contemporary artists living and working right there in Spello.

We've stayed in Spello for a week+ in the past. Day trip to Assisi, Perugia, Spoleto, etc and into the national park for hiking and driving.

Have you been to Rome? if not, that would be my first choice.

Parma and Bologna are both excellent destinations, full of university students, art, culture, modern day fashion etc. If Rome is out then Bologna would be 2nd choice, with daytrips to Parma, Ferrara, and/or Padua.
Motorino is offline  
Old Sep 24th, 2008, 11:51 AM
  #9  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 3,009
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Bologna is sounding better and better. I am also more intrigued now that I know they have their own football team - not sure they're playing in March, but if I could see a game that would be a bonus.

I like the idea of being located in a city that has plenty to entertain me with between easy daytrips (by train preferable).

I forgot to mention that I had already been to Rome...so it is out now, too.

Thanks for the tips so far, everyone.
beanweb24 is offline  
Old Sep 24th, 2008, 01:19 PM
  #10  
 
Join Date: Mar 2008
Posts: 8,798
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
If you're interested in ceramics and pottery as I am, a day trip to Faenza from Bologna to see the museum and showrooms would be fun.
iamq is offline  
Old Sep 24th, 2008, 01:55 PM
  #11  
 
Join Date: Mar 2003
Posts: 10,253
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Bologna is a great place from which to visit other places, since so many different train lines cross there. Daytrip possibilities: Parma, Modena, Ravenna, Ferrara, Verona, Padova, Mantova, Rimini, San Marion.

I think Bologna is a truly authentic Italian city, because it is less touristed. I suspect those complaints about authenticity had more to do with quaintness. It is a city featuring many miles of portici--covered sidewalks that make it pleasant to visit rain or shine. And magnificent food.
ellenem is online now  
Old Sep 24th, 2008, 05:20 PM
  #12  
 
Join Date: Aug 2006
Posts: 971
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
I have stayed in both Bologna and Parma. Bologna is larger, Parma probably prettier. However I would chose Bologna to stay in. It is a fantastic base for day trips, and has plenty to do. The university population gives the place an energetic vibe. The food of course is great - although the whole region has that.
aussiefive is offline  
Old Sep 24th, 2008, 08:46 PM
  #13  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 3,009
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Thank you everyone! I booked my airfare to Bologna for mid-March 2009. There was a trade fair the last week of March when I originally wanted to go, so I moved my trip back to still take advantage of the airfare sale and have a better choice of lodging. Am hoping to confirm my B&B reservation tomorrow...it's coming together!

Next up...deciding daytrips, and, more importantly, where to eat.

Thanks again for the opinions about Bologna as a base.
beanweb24 is offline  
Old Sep 24th, 2008, 09:31 PM
  #14  
 
Join Date: May 2006
Posts: 191
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
It sounds like you have picked Bologna as your base. I have never been there. However, we spent one week in Spello last fall and loved loved loved it. We found plenty to do with all of the hill towns close by. There are several restaurants and bars in Spello for night time dinning. Also nearby were several festivals.

I liked it so much am thinking of returning this time with my boyfriend. It seems you can't go wrong with your decision.
jrecm is offline  
Old Sep 24th, 2008, 10:13 PM
  #15  
 
Join Date: Sep 2004
Posts: 45,322
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Hello beanweb, I just saw your thread and was thinking while I read through all the interesting ideas to you "go to Bologna"! And you are. I love Bologna and feel it is truly a "real Italian city. I just hope that it never gets overrun with tourist but no doubt that will happen.

I am glad you are immediately making arrangement for your lodging as when there are trade shows it is almost impossible to find a vacant room.

I am excited for you!
LoveItaly is offline  
Old Sep 25th, 2008, 05:12 AM
  #16  
 
Join Date: Aug 2008
Posts: 40
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Hi! Is there a reason that you've discarded Rome? I've lived here 28 years, and still haven't seen it all! Rome is nothing like Florence, don't even go there, and it is a friendly fun place of people enjoying life with soooo much to see. Train travel between Florence, Rome, Bologna is great and if you want to do day trips into the small towns around Rome, there are trains, buses, etc. Take a look at ItalianNotebook.com for ideas and inspiration. Also, telephone the American expat organizations here to hook up one or two evenings with a bunch of real people who live the city. We always take people under our wing and go out to dinner together, etc. Enjoy and hang on to that ticket!
italiannotebook is offline  
Old Sep 25th, 2008, 09:26 AM
  #17  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 3,009
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Reading everyone's support of Bologna makes me even more excited to go.

ItalianNotebook - Rome is only "discarded" because I have been there before and I wanted to try someplace new. And Rome didn't have the same good price as Bologna!

As a side note, my trip to Rome, though, was terrible...was my first trip to Europe and it was at the end of a whirlwind tour (something like 23 cities in 28 days...ghastly) and I was in a foul mood. That was 13 years ago. I *will* go back to Rome now that I am older, wiser, and travel more slowly (and without a tour group)...just not this time around.
beanweb24 is offline  
Old Sep 25th, 2008, 01:05 PM
  #18  
 
Join Date: Apr 2006
Posts: 126
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Hi, Bean - glad you've got your air travel sorted; now on to day trips, but with advice that you leave plenty of time to get to know Bologna, too. There's loads to see there. Anyway, Modena, Faenza, Ferrara, Ravenna are all lovely, but you only have 6 days! If it were me planning from that area, I'd probably choose Modena and Ravenna. But I'd also tell myself that plans aren't written in stone: if you decide there's plenty to do in one place rather than the two or three you chose, just go with the flow and enjoy with an open heart and mind. Unlike you, I adore Florence, which is a 1-hour train ride from Bologna, and now you've got me salivating....

Sandra
sandra3120 is offline  
Old Sep 25th, 2008, 01:28 PM
  #19  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 3,009
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Hi Sandra -

I think Ravenna is at the top of my list for a daytrip. I've heard so many wonderful things about it, and I definitely want to go. Heard good things about Modena, too, so will research that more...thank you for the tips! I will definitely be flexible with my plans...I am sure I will be more organized about planning meals than I will any other activities - I love to eat. I will have 5 full days in Bologna (6 nights), so I will make sure to spend some time exploring Bologna itself! I am really excited about this trip!
beanweb24 is offline  
Old Sep 25th, 2008, 02:01 PM
  #20  
 
Join Date: Mar 2003
Posts: 10,253
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
My first visit to Ravenna was as a daytrip from Bologna. My experience in two visits to Ravenna: Bus tours arrive in the morning and crowd the sights, but by afternoon most have left and moved on to their next destination. We arrived mid-morning and stayed through to late afternoon, enjoying relatively empty sights after lunch.
ellenem is online now  

Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Manage Preferences - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy - Privacy Statement - Do Not Sell or Share My Personal Information -