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Would Bologna be a good base for two weeks of "living like a local"?

Would Bologna be a good base for two weeks of "living like a local"?

Old May 22nd, 2023, 06:20 AM
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Would Bologna be a good base for two weeks of "living like a local"?

My husband and I don't want a second home. However, in retirement we would like to take a few trips where we stay in one European city for a few weeks to a month, trying to live like a local, seeing a "sight" or so a day, taking day trips. Our first thoughts have been Paris or Barcelona, having visited multiple times and really enjoying the cities. But the idea of huge crowds doesn't appeal to us.

We just spend 5 days in Florence - still not enough time. I've never been to Bologna, but it looks like a great base for day trips, good food, etc.

Thoughts? Other suggestions? (Would also be open to a location in Spain.)
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Old May 22nd, 2023, 07:44 AM
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there are a lot of students in Bologna, so perhaps the demographics are a bit off. I might go smaller, maybe within walking distance of a train system. Throwing it out there Montagnana which is a little hidden gem with some nice squares and not even many hotels.
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Old May 22nd, 2023, 08:15 AM
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We visited Bologna for 5 nights right before the pandemic started and loved it. We are both retired and thought it would be an ideal city to spend a significant amount of time in. It’s got the oldest university in Europe and the students add a vibrancy that give the city a wonderful flavor. But there is so much to see and do in the city itself and it’s well-located for day trips, such as to Ravenna. Oh, and did I mention the food?

You couldn’t go wrong staying here for 2 weeks.
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Old May 22nd, 2023, 08:58 AM
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I'd prefer a smaller town, so I'd pick Ferrara and day trip to Bologna. After a week, Bologna's grittiness and graffiti would get tiresome for me.

But that's why they call it "personal preference."
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Old May 22nd, 2023, 09:01 AM
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I stayed there for a month last November. There are pros and cons to staying in a larger city. The food was great, transportation easy. I found it really crowded in on the weekend and the students rather loud at night ( I stayed on the edge of the university area)



But I found the area around piazza Santo Stefano to be charming and a great place to enjoy a morning cornetto and coffee. It was a place of peace and tranquility in the city.
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Old May 22nd, 2023, 10:23 AM
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Bologna would be perfect for your two weeks! We have considered spending a month there. It has a wonderful food culture and the energy of the university students.
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Old May 22nd, 2023, 10:42 AM
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Where would Bologna be on the "grittiness and graffiti" scale? Closer to Naples? Or Rome?
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Old May 22nd, 2023, 11:07 AM
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We spent five days in Bologna in 2018. Absolutely loved it. Check out Chapters Five - Nine of my trip report (see link below). Food outstanding, of course. Day trip opportunities by short train trip to Padua and/or Ravenna. We did both. We did not find Bologna gritty at all. We would love to come back and take a couple of cooking classes. Have fun!!!

https://travelswithmaitaitom.com/italy-2018/


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Old May 22nd, 2023, 02:27 PM
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I didn't find Bologna gritty, although I was there quite a while ago, I think 2007. Has that changed?
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Old May 22nd, 2023, 02:33 PM
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I didn’t find it gritty. I did find it to be really crowded at times especially on the weekend. It is a city but I felt very comfortable walking by myself. There are lots of great things to do in town and out of town, A week or two would be perfect for me.
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Old May 22nd, 2023, 08:53 PM
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In Bologna in November for a week and Loved, loved, loved it. Walkable, friendly, lots to see, easy to travel to cities and towns around Bologna. Crying today about the flooding the city and region is suffering.
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Old May 23rd, 2023, 05:25 AM
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Originally Posted by SusanP
I didn't find Bologna gritty, although I was there quite a while ago, I think 2007. Has that changed?
Some of the busier thoroughfares can be city-gritty, but if you duck through back streets it's always calm and pleasant. To me, it hasn't changed since 2007. And I enjoy it most when the University is in session, because the students bring such convivial life to the place - - though it can make it hard to get a seat at an outdoor pub or cafe in the University area in the early evening!
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Old May 23rd, 2023, 05:44 AM
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Yes, I was thinking about the floods. We'll see what the area is like when we are actually retired and ready to go. So sad.
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Old May 23rd, 2023, 05:45 AM
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Originally Posted by jan47ete
In Bologna in November for a week and Loved, loved, loved it. Walkable, friendly, lots to see, easy to travel to cities and towns around Bologna. .
In what area did you stay? One drawback of Bologna (at least from looking at the map) is that the train station is a pretty long walk from the historic area.
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Old May 23rd, 2023, 01:46 PM
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I enjoyed my walks to the train station which was about a 20 minute walk. I did take a taxi one time. It was raining and it was about €5. I definitely wouldn’t stay close to the train station. I was very close to Piazza Androvani and a 5 minute walk to Piazza Santo Stefano. I bought my vegetables at the vendor’s who set up practically daily in the square. It was a wonderful town.
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Old May 23rd, 2023, 01:56 PM
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Originally Posted by realgirl58
the train station is a pretty long walk from the historic area.
Not really. It's like a couple bus stops from the station to Piazza Maggiore but the walk from the station is pretty much central Bologna already (arcades / shops / market / nice back streets). If you head east from the train station you hit the University district pretty quickly too. Staying near the station is already plenty central, really.
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Old May 23rd, 2023, 03:01 PM
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OP RG,
I like your style, you and husbear looking to 'live like a local in one place'. We were Bologna-bound for this fall til changing our minds.
One of the lesser-known Italian towns that I always trot out when asked about 'living like a local' is Bevagna in Umbria. Dunno whether you plan to go that far south...
It has one of the finest selections of potential daytrips surrounding it, but also is plenty authentic as a rural base with its own quotient of appeal. Food, a historic theatre and compelling fests. Good walks on the periphery.
But for many, Bevagna's greatest appeal is its beautiful square. We rented an apartment directly overlooking that timeless sight.

I noticed your mention of Barcelona. Another smaller Spanish town that would fit the same bill as Bevagna is Arcos de la Frontera (sound of flamenco guitar).
Btw, at the party that we attended 2 months ago in Torre (near Minori), the aged father-in-law of our host got up suddenly from the table and rushed out to the 'street'. That route was actually the famed 'Sentieri di Limone' (Path of the Lemons') and the elderly gent had hurried out there to grab the passing pair of Bologna student gals to join our party. Strangers, understand. Those two spoke well of their city and stressed the markets there, something that self-caterers would value.

Do let us all know!
I am done. the lemon peels
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Old May 23rd, 2023, 03:04 PM
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We stayed near Piazza Maggiore. It was about a 5-10 minute Uber Ride or 20 minute walk.
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Old May 23rd, 2023, 07:32 PM
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I'm planning to spend at least a week in Bologna next year. It looks like a lovely town, with plenty of easy day trips.
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Old May 24th, 2023, 12:22 AM
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We spent a month in Bologna a few years ago and absolutely loved it. We rented an Airbnb a 5-10 min walk from Plaza Maggiore. The food is amazing both in restaurants and when shopping in the local markets to cook at home. Bologna has a lot to do and see within the city and also in nearby small towns. We blogged about some of our time there @ https://accidentalnomads.com/category/italy/ but never got around to posting about our much of our time there visiting places like Florence, Ravenna, Parma etc all of which are accessible by car or train.

We are fans of "living like a local" and have often spent a month or so at the end of our longer trips around South America or Asia in places such as Buenos Aires. Lima, Saigon etc. it really allows you to appreciate the places .

We were there in June /July when it was incredibly hot. We were very thankful for the cloistered walkways throughout the town. Do check out the temps at the time of year you plan on going.
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