Travel Tips

Yolla Travel Destinations. Bologna. Part 4

La Cucina Bolognese + Aperitivo Traditions

Telling about Italian gastronomical capital, I can not mention the cuisine. But first of all, I have to reveal a big Italian secret: all the dishes you know and think are Italian, are probably something extremely not Italian. The fact is, Italian cuisine differs A LOT from city to city – imagine how do recipes change on the way to other countries and cultures! Each place has it’s particular, uncommon recipes and local specialties. For example, Bologna is famous for its meat dishes, while Ferrara – 30 km away – welcomes you with pumpkin treats. You can hardly find anything with fish or seafood in Bologna, while Rimini is all about it. Another thing is the name. Take Spaghetti Bolognese: they don’t exist in Bologna! You will never find anything called like that on any menu, and if you ask a waiter for that, be ready to get the most indignant look ever (worse is only when your order cappuccio after 12 a.m., but that’s a different story). Tortellini, tagliatelle, lasagna, everything al ragù: La Grassa nickname is well-deserved. Let’s take a deeper look.

Read more “Yolla Travel Destinations. Bologna. Part 4”

Travel Tips

Yolla Travel Destinations. Bologna. Part 3

Off The Beaten Track

I’d say, that was the short list of must-visit and must-see places in Bologna. It’s quite short – bear in mind to study some other places of interest on your own. I can’t name all the back streets, lanes and alleys – the experience of finding them by yourself is too precious. But there are some corners I insist on checking out – so that Bologna opens up its’ real face.

First and my personal favorite is the market streets area close to Piazza Maggiore – Via degli Orefici, Via Caprarie, Via Clavature and all the rest in between. In the daylight, there are noisy Italian grannies buying the freshest ingredients for their tortellini, arguing (actually, shouting is a better word) men drinking espresso standing at the high tables right on the street (where you can hardly move, by the way). The air is a mixture of bakeries, coffee, meat and fresh fish smells. Suddenly you can pop into flower shops with cauliflower bouquets or the famous Eataly (but the local market in front of it with the same goods is a way better). Oh God, here you will see all the reasons why people adore Italy. But at night, when the market is closed, small cozy wineries appear out of nowhere. Tables stand right on the streets, and you probably won’t tell which bar they belong to. Wine, aperitivo spirit, prosciutto, parmesan and mortadella plates, bustling talks, sincere laughing, bunches of friends. Italy is love, and you fall in love with it right there. My personal favorite is 051 – Zerocinquantino. There’s no place like that to feel more Italian.  

Another spot I love is Giardini Margherita. It’s the park located away from hustle and bustle of central streets but is still within walking distance from Piazza Maggiore. Bologna is stony and rocky, and this place is an oasis for anyone who misses nature. Plus, that’s one of the most expensive areas to live in Bologna!

Of course, not a single car driver should miss a chance to visit Ferrari, Lamborghini and Ducati factories and museums in the suburbs. These are fun to be in even if you don’t drive – they are located in villages, where you can see more luxury cars than people around. Strange experience.

For the night rockers, Bologna is wild. I really mean it. Students from all over the world make the city one big holiday platform even in the exam time. If you feel like partying, the recipe is: buy some beer and go to Piazza Verde. Drink it sitting on a free spot (feel lucky to find one). Talk with crowds, meet lots of people you know and don’t know, then start bar hopping. Go to either La Scuderia, Lab 16 or any Irish pub down the road. Fun guaranteed.

Part 1: La Grassa. La Dotta. La Rossa
Part 2: Traditional things to see in Bologna
Part 4: La Cucina Bolognese

Travel Tips

Yolla Travel Destinations. Bologna. Part 2

Touristic Highlights

Thanks to the rich history of the city and the whole region, Bologna boasts many distinctive sights. Luckily, the perfectly preserved historical center is easy to discover on foot – all the must-visit spots are within walking distance from each other.

I strongly encourage to take a couple of days on sightseeing to explore all the magnificent places with no hurry. Besides, one can find all the historical data and useful information on all the sights online (see Useful links), and I’m going to share my own perfect path I would use to show around people coming to Bologna for the first time.

Let’s take the first step off the Bologna Centrale, one of the biggest railway stations all over the Italy. (By the way, a little hint: traveling using railways is so cheap and easy in Italy, especially comparing to my same experience in France, that I’d strongly recommend to take it into account while planning your Italian vacation. See some useful links on that too). Turn left and in a couple of minutes you’ll see a beautiful garden soaring up in front of you. That’s the Parco Della Montagnola. A nice place to jog in the morning, and somewhere I’d not go to at night. You can sip the fresh air in there, take a moment to enjoy the calmness after the train (if you took one), and then go back to Via dell’Indipendenza. That’s the main shopping vein of the city, a place where there are plenty of local boutiques, ZARA, Mango and other international giants, overpriced bars, and touristic shops. Feel lucky if you’re there on Sunday: the street is made pedestrian every weekend so that people can fully enjoy all the ancient buildings, portici and totally the view.

If not turning anywhere, Via dell’Indipendenza will lead you right up to the Piazza del Nettuno with the famous Fontana del Nettuno composition in the middle, Palazzo Re Enzo on the right, Biblioteca Salaborsa on the left, and the queen of the city – Piazza Maggiore a bit further. While coming up there take a look around inside Palazzo Communale gardens. They are beautifully authentic.

Being the heart of Bologna, Piazza Maggiore has the same countless number of small veins and vessels coming from there. Choose any little street you like and enjoy the path which will definitely take you to the coziest restaurant or a breathtaking view. However, not to miss the main touristic places during your first visit, you’d better go back on Via Rizzoli and head off to Le Due Torri. The legend is, Bologna used to be a city of towers. Each family with a high income had to build a tower to show power and wealth. One day, it turned out to be way too many towers in there – the city had a lot of wealthy families. It became dangerous to stay on the streets as towers could fall down any moment due to an earthquake or anything. Therefore, to eliminate the domino effect, it was decided to take down most of them. The other legend is, you will never graduate if not come up all the way up the tallest one – Torre degli Asinelli. 498 steps up a semi-exposed wooden staircase. Well, a diploma is a hard nut in Bologna.

From this Piazza di Porta Ravegnana with towers, you can see the trident of major city center streets. A short walk through Via Zamboni – and you find yourself in the middle of the University of Bologna. Libraries, museums, coffee shops, students sitting right on the ground preparing for another exam and the light smell of something green and forbidden in the air – that’s Alma Mater Studiorum. Imagine you’re still a student (or maybe you really are one?) and take as much time as you need to feel the atmosphere of the first university in the world. Then go back to the towers the same way not to get lost, take a quick look at Via San Vitale and Strada Maggiore to get back there when you have free time, and head to Via Santo Stefano, Piazza Santo Stefano, and Basilica di Santo Stefano. It’s a unique structure of seven different churches build next to each other. Wander inside, imagine priests praying there centuries ago, listen to all the mysterious noises and smell the antiquity. Then go to the nearest bar – you deserve an Aperol Spritz after such a busy day!

Part 1: La Grassa. La Dotta. La Rossa
Part 3: Non-traditional things to do in Bologna and to do around Bologna
Part 4: La Cucina Bolognese

Travel Tips

Yolla Travel Destinations. Bologna. Part 1

As far as Yolla is a must-have app for international calls, it’s an essential addition to smartphones for many tourists and globe-trotters, which means our users do travel and travel a lot. That made us questioning: why not to put a light on some must-visits spots all over the world we adore? Hence, welcome to Yolla Travel Destination Guideposts on favorite places of the Yolla team worldwide with personal recommendations, hints, and hacks, and only God knows what else!

So, we’re starting the guide with our being-carried-away-with-Italy PR and marketing manager – Natalie. She’ll tell her story of one of the most underestimated by tourists cities (luckily) – Bologna.

La Grassa. La Dotta. La Rossa

Bologna, the capital of the Emilia-Romagna region, is not a typical Italian city that comes to mind with the word “pasta”. Located at the intersection of the major Italian railroads, the city stays off well-known tourists destinations and is hardly mentioned in Italian travel guides. But that’s a blessing – we all have a chance to enjoy its’ authentic atmosphere without a single trace of fuss.

Bologna was founded in the 6th century BC as Felsina. Pretty old one, huh? But it would be fair to say that the latest history of the city began with the foundation of Bologna University in 1088 – the first university in the world. Currently, more than 500,000 students are living in the city, including Erasmus and other overseas students, which makes Bologna one of the youngest and fullest of fun and energy cities in Italy or, probably, the whole Europe. Or even in the world.

But Bologna is not just about medieval elegance in the reign of youth. The city has two contradictory halves: hi-tech, hard-working city on the one side, and place of a pure Italian charm on the other. It has a triple nickname. La Grassa (the fat one) stands for the super delicious cuisine, La Dotta (the learned one) – for the knowledge and the University, La Rossa (the red one) – for the terracotta buildings, porticos, and engaging ochre roofs. There are thousands of spots well worth immersing into by yourself, and good old sightseeing is only a little step towards falling in love with the city. In these blog post series, you’ll know what to do, see and try during your Bologna vacation.

Part 2: Traditional things to see in Bologna
Part 3: Non-traditional things to do in Bologna and to do around Bologna
Part 4: La Cucina Bolognese

Enjoy!