Bologna, Italy. April 2015.
Only 30 minutes away from Florence, Bologna is a great day trip or half day trip that won’t break the bank too much. It’s got a slightly bigger city feel than Florence (it certainly has a lot more mainstream shopping in the old town), and has a bigger airport, so a lot of people actually choose Bologna as a base camp or fly-in city when traveling around the region.
I can’t say I was completely charmed by Bologna the way I was with Florence (I may be biased), but maybe that’s just me–I’m just generally more at ease with smaller-scale towns with a high density of sights/cultural heritage. Not to say that Bologna doesn’t have its notable must-sees. Combo architecture and interesting features are everywhere, and though it feels slightly run-down, I think it rather adds to its character and history.
Surprisingly, I saw a lot of somewhat Venetian influence in a lot of building details. I’m not too familiar with Bolognese (and that’s boh-loh-nyeh-sze, not boh-loh-naise) history, but with Venice not too far away, I wouldn’t be surprised if there were some sort of Doge-related historical overlaps in there somewhere.
At the same time, a lot of typical Romanesque type architecture that can be spotted around Italy (since Rome basically made their mark by building stuff everywhere they expanded their empire), and Tuscan-ish architecture (with the Medicis nearby), and architectural features that we also saw in Parma and Modena that seem typical of the Emilia-Romagna region.
All in all making for an interesting old town that feels historical, and not generic.
You see a lot of these porticoed walkways in Italy, especially in the northern half.
Their duomo is a pretty good example of how the old town is in general–part medieval, part renaissance, part something else.
You’ll also find a lot of towns in Italy with a square like this, a clocktower similar to this, and maybe a church and a fountain nearby.
Bologna’s two towers or due torre. Didn’t have time (or frankly, energy) to go up, but the view is likely red rooftops 🙂
I love how the towers lean and look like they’re in conversation
The old town is a bit of a walk from the train station (about 1.5-2km on foot), but you walk through a very long porticoed shopping street, so that helps a bit, if you like to shop. It doesn’t help if you’re rushing to catch the train and you’re nearly 2km away trying to speed-walk through a throng of slow walkers and shoppers ambling about too leisurely for your liking :)) Just saying.