Hotels in Bologna, Italy
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Bologna – Vibrant and Exquisitely Restored Medieval Gem
Despite having been bombarded by relentless waves of attackers over the centuries, most recently during WW II, Bologna has somehow always managed to get back on its feet and rebuild. Its city centre, the heart of the medieval walled city, is now one of the most extensive and historically significant preserved areas in Europe. It contains well restored and preserved examples of buildings dating from Roman times through the medieval period and onto the renaissance and beyond. But it looks as much forward as it does backward to its rich past, and contains a modern transport infrastructure and exhibition and corporate services second to none in Northern Italy.
A Romantic Stroll under the Porticoes
For reasons that are not entirely clear, Bologna is less well-known outside Italy than many of its other ancient cities. This is a curious fact, since it contains one of the best preserved Old Town’s not just in Italy, but in all Europe. In terms of scope, the city preserves substantial remains from Roman times to the renaissance. The heart of the walled area is where most visitors will head, and perhaps aim to find a room in one of the many hotels. The historic centre is especially good for strolling, since buildings throughout the area feature grand porticoes, where visitors can seek shelter from the elements while moving effortlessly from place to place in great style. There are far too many points of historical interest in the area to mention. The best place to get one’s bearings is the Museo della Storia di Bologna. Set in the dramatic Palazzzo Pepoli, it charts the history of the city from ancient times right up the present day. Another not to be missed sight is the Duo Torri, remarkably well-preserved twin towers dating from the early 1100’s.
A Vibrant Place of Learning for One Thousand Years
Potential visitors shouldn’t get the wrong idea. Bologna isn’t some sort of open air museum, where visitors solely come to pay their respects to people and times past. It is a vibrant city in all respects, especially due to the large number of tertiary students attracted by the city’s excellent universities. In fact, the University of Bologna, founded in 1088, is considered the oldest university still in existence in the world. When not studying, students from this and several other institutions often spill out into the centre of the city and add life and activity to its bar and nightlife scene. The Via Zamboni, which runs between the university and the centre of the city is lined with pubs and clubs and is the best place to head to for those looking for student-type nightlife. Irish pubs are remarkably popular and Cluricaune Irish Pub is a great spot to head for…if you can manage to fight your way through the throng to the bar. Just make sure you have written down the address of your hotel so you can give it to the cab driver later on.
Gourmet Experience at a Leisurely Pace
If the frantic pace of the city’s nightlife gets to be a bit too much, visitors will be happy to learn that Bologna is one of the centres of what is known as the “Slow Food Movement”. While the term may have fallen out of common usage in recent years, the general ethos is very much alive in the city. At its core, it acknowledges that good food, and the good things of life in general, cannot be rushed. From farm to plate great care is taken to make sure that nothing is unduly rushed and that foodies have all the time they need to truly enjoy what is being offered. While there are a number of independent and hotel restaurants in the city that apply “slow food” principles, one of the more highly rated venues is Trattoria Gianni, which specialises in delicious Bolognese cuisine. Emilia Romagna is a major wine growing region and is especially well known for its sparkling wines. Oenophiles can do worse than head to the nearby village of Dozza, just 35 minutes away. There they’ll find the Enteco Regionale Emilia Romagna, a wine association offering information and tastings in the imposing 13th century Sforzesca Castle.
Motoring at Breakneck Speed
If the people of Emilia Romagna like to enjoy their cuisine at a leisurely pace, the same cannot be said of the way they like to move along the roads and motorways. Motoring enthusiasts will not have to be reminded that both Ferrari and Ducati call this region home. The Ducati factory and museum is just beyond Bologna Airport and is easily reached from the centre. Visitors can view the marquee brand’s motorcycles from the company’s beginnings more than 90 years ago to the present day. Factory tours are also available. The Ferrari Museum is a bit further out, towards Modena, but can also be visited on a day trip from Bologna - no need to check out of your hotel room at all. It even features a Formula One simulator, which allows you to get a bit of an idea of what a day in the life of Sebastian Vettel is really like.