I can't see the word "bologna" and not instantly start singing the Oscar Meyer jingle for their flagship product, bologna. Funny, I used to eat a LOT of bologna sandwiches when I was a kid, but probably haven't had one since. But I digress . . .
On Sunday, we bid farewell to Venice and boarded a train to Bologna, a short 1-1/2 hour train trip from Venice.
Originally, we were going to Bologna with the intent of visiting the Ferrari museum/factory in nearby Maranello. However, AFTER we had secured all of our accommodations, we learned that the museum was just so, so and you couldn't tour the factory unless you OWNED a Ferrari. You actually have to provide the VIN number of your vehicle to secure your reservation and last time I checked, nobody in my family owned one. So much for that. So we had some time to kill in Bologna before we took the train to Florence on Monday afternoon.
We were back in the land of cars and bicycles and Bologna was bustling with both.
We were really pleased with our hotel, one of only 4 nights we will spend at a hotel during our entire trip. Hotel Il Guercino had favorable reviews on Trip Advisor and was located near the train station, and extremely well priced for a 3 star hotel (59 € for a double). We really enjoyed the breakfast and thought that the price of 7 € was a real bargain, particularly since they offered a great variety of meats, cheeses, eggs, pastries, yogurts, fruit, cereal and fresh juices. Most importantly, they had a self-serve espresso machine that made several types of espresso drinks, so I was a happy camper! It might have been nicer to be nearer the city center, but we didn't mind the 15 minute walk from the hotel to one of the main restaurant/shopping districts. I would definitely recommend this hotel to others.
By the time we arrived at our hotel, it was early afternoon on a Sunday, and we were all in agreement that we would take a "day off" from sight seeing and enjoyed a leisurely lunch at a nearby trattoria and a wonderful afternoon "siesta." It was lovely. The hotel had a nice terrace outside, so after we were all refreshed from our siestas, we sat outside and enjoyed the warm breeze and some vino.
For dinner, we had a delicious dinner at Trattorie il Rosso. Taking a break from pasta, I enjoyed one of their specialty dishes of roasted pork shank and potatoes. It was outstanding, as were the other dishes we tried, including Lasagna, a pasta dish with sausage, and a yummy antipasti plate with various meats and cheeses.
Monday morning, after checking out of the hotel and storing our luggage at the train station, we wandered around Bologna on one of the tourist "hop on, hop off" open top buses. This gave us a great overview of the city while at the same time was easy on Dad and Joan's aching legs and feet. We're definitely getting them "in shape" as we've been doing a LOT of walking, something I keep telling my Dad is good for him!
Bologna is the largest city (and the capital) of Emilia-Romagna Region in Northern Italy. Bologna is a lively and cosmopolitan Italian college city, with a rich history, art, cuisine, music, and culture. It is the seventh largest city in terms of population in Italy of about one million people.
The city, the first settlements of which date back to at least one millennium before Christ, has always been an important urban center, first under the Etruscans and the Celts, then under the Romans, then again in the Middle Ages, as a free municipality (for one century it was the fifth largest European city based on population). It's also home to the oldest university in the world, University of Bologna, founded in 1088.
Piazza Maggiore, which was built beginning in the 13th century is surrounded by the most important buildings of the medieval city. I thought this memorial on the wall of Basilica di San Petronio to those Bolognese who lost their lives in World War II was interesting.
It is still the preferred meeting place of the Bolognese who gather in the shadow of the statue of Neptune – a Bologna symbol – with the Basilica of San Petronio (dedicated to the city’s patron saint) in the background. It is here that a blonde King Enzo of Sicily was kept a prisoner here for 23 years. Although he was never allowed to leave, he was allowed to have visitors, many of them women. It is said that there was an abundance of blonde-headed children born in Bologna during this time.
Near the Piazza Maggiore, there were lots of merchants selling the famous wares of the region including Parma ham, prosciutto and tortellini. We purchased some delicious salami and fresh tortellini to take with us to Florence for that evening's dinner (it was delicious).
We all enjoyed our brief visit to Bologna, but by the end of the afternoon, we were excited to head back to the train station and off to Florence for our next adventure in this historic Tuscan city.