Make Bologna the first stop on your trip.
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Bologna is the capital of Emilia Romagna and makes a fantastic base for exploring the legendary 'food valley'. The city's history stretches back a few hundred years before Christ and it is home to the oldest university in Europe. These facts are responsible for two of the nicknames Bologna owns with pride. La Dotta – 'the learned one' and La Grassa – 'the fat one'. Truly you're never far from a spectacular meal in Bologna, as long as you're not vegan. Emilia Romagna might not be a name that's as well known as neighboring Tuscany but its food specialties are renowned the world over. The king of Italian cheeses: Parmigiano Reggiano, Prosciutto di Parma and traditional Aceto Balsamico are all from around here and a visit to see how they're produced is a must.
The recently opened Eataly World on the edge of Bologna is worth a day to itself, If you've been to an Eataly in the US, this is all that and more, with demonstrations and classes running throughout the day. Petrolheads will also find much to love in Emilia Romagna. Ferrari, Lamborghini, Ducati and Maserati are all produced close by and have museums or factory tours available. If 'slow food' and fast cars aren't your thing then Bologna still doesn't disappoint. A thriving arts scene means you'll easily find a more cultured diversion, from art galleries to operas. And if you want to work up an appetite, the gently leaning Asinelli Tower's almost 500 steps will help you burn some calories. From the top you'll see why Bologna has another nickname 'La Rossa' – the red one, as you gaze out over the red tiled roofs of the old city, which escaped WWII largely undamaged by Allied bombing raids.
"It was an excellent trip overall and having the accommodations booked, transfers arranged and the use of the phones and a person to contact at any time, was great. It took away the worry of travelling in a strange country where English was not the first language."
Nirmala, Narenda, Nikhil & Elena
"Everything was seamless and planned so well. The guides and drivers, local contact plus the New York contacts were all very knowledgeable as well as kind to the children. Everyone was very quick to respond when I had questions. Also, all of our drivers and connections were on time and excellent."
Amanda, Gregg, Simone & Zane
East Lyme, CT
Where to stay in Bologna
Bologna is a popular destination for conferences and expos, so there are plenty of business hotels in the area close to the train station but that's not the most interesting or attractive part of town to be in, so we've concentrated our hotel selection on the historical center. You'll be in the thick of the action and in easy strolling distance to Bologna's tastiest and liveliest spots. From historic boutique to modern design hotels to centrally located renovated and well-equipped apartments, with a few restored palazzos thrown in for good measure, whatever your taste in accommodation, we've got you covered. Once we start preparing your customized itinerary we will present our recommended options for you to select from.
Things to do in Bologna
Bologna's historic center is very walkable and in all weathers, thanks to the 25 miles of porticos. You could choose explore on your own or with the help of a private walking tour guide so you don't miss out on some of the important details. Most visitors to Bologna are here for the food and the city's classic dishes, tortellini in broth and tagliatelle with ragu bolognese are undoubtedly a big draw. A food walking tour will give you the perfect introduction to Bologna's food culture. Curious cooks can take a cooking class and recreate those fabulous dishes at home. If you want to learn all about how the region's legendary cheese, ham and balsamic vinegar are produced, then a full day tour of the 'food valley' is essential. Other tour options focus on the region's motoring heritage, with the opportunity to take a Ferrari or Lamborghini for a spin.
What I love about Bologna...
“I travel to eat so Bologna is pretty much my idea of heaven. My only problem is working up enough of an appetite for the next delicious treat. Although enjoying an uptick in visitor numbers Bologna is still a much more 'local' town than places like Florence and Venice. Joining in the early evening aperitivo session in the Quadrilatero area just off the main square is a fun way to start the night.”