Ok, maybe that wasn’t the last post

Ok, maybe that wasn’t the last post

Friday, March 1st, 2024

I couple from the U.S. are here in Bologna with the intention to stay at least 2 years and possibly more. We’ve talked and I gave them some advice about places to go, things to see and stores where they can find essential items. I decided that this might be a blog post of interest to others planning to visit Bologna and even to live here.

So here is a list for visitors for perhaps a week.

Places to eat:

Sfoglia Rina – This is a good place to get good Bolognese food at a reasonable price. You can also buy freshly made pasta, filled pastas (for example ravioli or tortellini). It is open for lunch and dinner but they do NOT take reservations. The open for lunch at 11:30 so my advise would be to arrive at the door no later than 11:15. In good weather maybe even earlier. If you arrive at 12:30 there will probably be 20 people in line and the wait can be pretty long.

Osteria Bartolini – A good seafood restaurant. Especially recommended when there is nice weather because other than the food, a major attraction is a large terrace for outdoor dining with a spectacular tree which I’ve been told is the oldest tree in Bologna.

Trattoria da me – Open for lunch and dinner. Reservations are mandatory. There is a TV program called “Alessandro Borghese – 4 ristoranti” in which the chef Alessandra Borhese visits 4 restaurants in a different city and declares one of them as the best. So he came to Bologna in 2018 and declared Trattoria da me the winner on that episode. Perhaps it was very popular before that but since then it is absolutely necessary to have reservations.

Radici Terra d’Amare – Closed Monday. Open for dinner all of the other days and for lunch only on Saturday and Sunday. Great inventive seafood at a moderate price.  I found it accident when I walked along the lightly traveled street not far from where I live. Highly recommended.

Places to go/see:

Piazza Maggiore – the very heart of Bologna. A large piazza with a large cathedral named for the patron saint of Bologna, San Petronio. The original plan would have made it bigger than Saint Peter’s Basilica in Rome but the pope vetoed that idea. Still it’s a big church and particular interesting item is the sundial (or more accurately the Meridian Line). It’s too complicated to explain here but you can find all of the details here: https://www.basilicadisanpetronio.org/the-sundial-of-s-t-petronios-basilica/

Piazza del Nettuno: Adjacent to Piazza Maggiore is the this piazza. The main attraction is the Fontana Nettuno ( the Fountain of Neptune) which is one of the major symbols of Bologna. It is quite spectacular – especially the water streaming for the nipples of the women in the fountain.

Biblioteca Salaborsa – The central library of Bologna which is very close to the Fontana Nettuno. The name comes from the fact that it was for sometime a financial market (borsa), also, surprisingly, it was a basketball court for a period. Along with the regular library functions which are vast, there are also ruins under the main floor dating from the Etruscans  and then Romans. There are usually very interesting displays of one type or another. Definitely recommended.

San Luca – Well the long name is Sanctuary of the Madonna of San Luca. One of the symbols of the city along with the two towers and Neptune’s fountain. It’s on top of a hill not very far from the historical center and boasts the longest portico in the world to arrive there. I went there on foot once and I guarantee a good workout. It’s certainly an interesting hike. You can also drive there or take the little tourist “train” from piazza Maggiore.

T-Day  – Some years ago they closed two roads in the center of bologna to vehicle traffic on a weekend. The two roads intersect and the closures form a “T”. It started as a one weekend experiment and was so popular that it became permanent.  Especially when the weather is nice there is always a crowd of people walking around and enjoying the entertainment; jugglers, puppeteers, musicians, street artists and of course vendors of various thing. It’s a big open air party. 

Garisenda and Asinelli, the two towers – the MAJOR symbol of Bologna. Several years ago I climbed to the top – 498 steps. It was a spectacular 360 degree view. Unfortunately the sister tower, Gaisenda which has always been leaning, has serious problems now and the there is a lot of work going onto to save it from collapse. It would indeed be a disaster if it collapsed since it is so important to the city. They saved the tower in Pisa so I’m optimistic that they can also fix Garisenda. In the meantime Asinelli is closed to tourists and one of streets closest to Garisenda is closed causing significant headaches for traffic.

Museum of the History of Bologna- I really like this museum. You take a tour through the history starting with the Etruscans, then the Romans and even Napoleon. I think it’s well done and is a pleasant way to know the city more fully.

For a long term stay a year at least

Here it gets more difficult to make suggestions. In this scenario people are not really tourists as much as they are residents. High on the list would be learning as much Italian as possible in the shortest amount of time. Unless you are quite young the dream of leaning Italian in a month is an illusion. So I would recommend going to an intensive language school for at LEAST a month and better two and then decide whether or not to continue. If you really want to live here you probably need to go to school at least 6 months. I stopped language school here when I had enough knowledge of the language to have at least a rudimentary conversation. At that point if you don’t know a word of phrase in Italian you can describe the word using the vocabulary that you have. For me this has been a continuing process and I will continue “studying” Italian forever. The way that I “study” is by reading books written in Italian. I like mysteries of one form or another so that’s what I read in Italian. It’s no easy at first but it works over time.

Beyond these limited recommendations I willingly give advise upon request so leave a comment and I’ll respond.

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