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Thursday, 25 January 2018

Why Bologna, Italy Should Be Your Next City Break

One of the best things about living in the UK is we have so many incredible cities we can visit in Europe that only take a few hours to get to on the plane. I don't know about you, but my city break wish list is so long, however I've got one more city that you'll need to add to your list - Bologna

I'll be honest, before this trip I had never even heard of Bologna - my boyfriend said to me "apparently it's the food capital of Italy", and like anyone I took very little convincing after hearing that sentence! We ended up with Bologna after we played what I call the "Skyscanner game", go on Skyscanner and put which city you will be flying out of and then select 'Destination: Everywhere' along with your intended travel dates. It gives you all the cheapest flight options, so it's brilliant if you want to go on a city break but don't know where to go!

I fell in love with Bologna incredibly quickly, it's such a beautiful old city that often gets overlooked because Italy has so many incredible places to visit. However it really shouldn't be! The food is phenomenal, the architecture is stunning, and it really isn't at all touristy (honestly, I didn't see one shop selling keyrings!). The only downside is some of the backstreets have quite a lot of graffiti, but don't let that put you off - it's still a stunning city. You can also get everywhere on foot, so you don't need to worry about transport costs whilst you are there. 

The Food

They weren't lying when they said Bologna was the food capital of Italy! There are endless restaurants, food shops and wine bars on every street. What I loved about the restuarants in Bologna is they all have outdoor seating areas, meaning that they spill out onto the street and it creates such a buzz about the place. I'm not going to tell you where to eat, because I think in somewhere like Bologna you have to discover it for yourself as there are so many options. However if you are going to go somewhere on a whim, then go by the rule of thumb that wherever the locals are eating is likely to be a good place. 
Tip: A prior warning that a lot of places close in the middle of the afternoon, and then reopen around 5/6pm - I also read that August isn't a great time to visit the city, as everything shuts for the month. 

The Architecture

Did you know Bologna has over 38km of Porticoes? As well as that the buildings are so beautiful, they are all terracotta and yellow with wooden shutters on the windows - all the streets look like what I imagine stereotypical Italy to be.
As well as that there are some stunning churches to visit. I can't show you what the interior looks like as photos are generally not allowed - but trust me, they are sensational. When you are in Bologna definitely make sure you do the Santuario di Madonna di San Luca, the entire walk up there is through a Portico (a long one at that!) and then at the top are fantastic views and a stunning church. You can get a bus up there, however walk if you can because it's fantastic! There are also the 2 famous towers in the centre of the city which you can go up, we didn't in the end because it didn't seem worth it on a cloud day - but I've been told the views are unreal. 

Tip: Google the '7 Secrets of Bologna', it's a really fun way to see the city and discover things you didn't know were there. 

The walk to the Santuario di Madonna di San Luca


Day Trips To Other Places Are Easy

We were in Bologna for 4 nights - which if I'm honest is a bit too much as it's quite a small city, 3 would be plenty. However being there for 4 nights gave us the opportunity to do a day trip somewhere else as Italy has a great train network. We looked up trains on The Train Line for Europe and decided to go to Florence which was only 1 hour away on the train. However other options included Parma and Modena.I cannot recommend Florence enough! I can't believe I was only there for a day, it's such a stunning, romantic city. I'll definitely be going back for a proper visit. The buildings, windy streets, the river, the bridges...it's all fantastic. The Duomo is the most incredible building I've ever seen, pictures don't do it justice at all! The only downside to Florence is it's quite busy and touristy, but for good reason - it's a stunning city. 
Tip: Walk up to the Piazzle Michelangelo for sensational views of the city.

View from the Piazzale Michelangelo

The Duomo

Probably the 87th pizza I'd consumed during this holiday

So in conclusion, Florence, and more importantly Bologna are such beautiful cities to get lost in - if you are planning on visiting one then I highly recommend making time to do a day trip to the other! They were both fantastic. 

Thanks for reading, hopefully I've given you the travel bug now that we are over the January blues!

Emma x 

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