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Trip Report: 3 Days in Bologna

Sheboygan, WI
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Trip Report: 3 Days in Bologna

We spent 6 days in Tuscany, followed by 3 days in Bologna mid to end of June 2013.

We flew into Bologna, rented a car for the Tuscany portion, then returned it to the airport upon our return in Bologna.


We are two 30-something sisters and our 50-something mom. Our main objective was to explore the hill towns. We are into photography, so beautiful scenery was a must. Museums were not a priority.

Part of the reason we chose Bologna was because mom really wanted to take a cooking class and some "food tours" and Bologna seemed to fit the bill.

This was mom's first trip abroad, and mine and sister's 2nd time to Italy. We had previously visited Venice/Florence/Rome.

I have blogged about our trip here, which has mostly the same commentary I will post below, plus the photos to go along:


My trip report for the Tuscany portion can be found here:


Sheboygan, WI
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1. Re: Trip Report: 3 Days in Bologna

We checked out of Certaldo in the morning and drove back to the Bologna airport to return the car.

The trip went without incident, thanks to navigation on my phone! Did I mention there are tons of tunnels between Florence and Bologna? This time we decided to count. There are 28.

Upon returning the car around noon, we took the Aerobus to the train station in Bologna, then walked to our hotel, the Albergo Atlantic. We were able to check in to our triple room, then rested a bit before setting out for some lunch. I have yet to review the hotel, but we were pleased with it. It is located between the train station and Piazza Maggiore. Rooms were clean and bright, the staff was helpful and the breakfasts good. tripadvisor.com/Hotel_Review-g187801-d236570…

We had lunch at Trattoria da Pietro, which I found on a walking route on the TA App. The meal was okay, but the AC left something to be desired. tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g187801-d1…

After lunch we walked through the city, roughly following most of this itinerary, though we didn't stop at many of the locations. The walk was shaded, thanks to Bologna's many porticoes. bolognawelcome.com/en/…20city

We headed towards Santo Stefano, where we had to wait about 20 minutes for it to reopen after the siesta, then we wandered around inside.

Next we walked to the Two Towers, then decided to punish ourselves by walking up the 498 steps to the top. But the view was worth it. And there was a nice breeze.

We ate pizza standing up at an eatery near our hotel, then headed to bed. We had an early start planned for the next morning.

Sheboygan, WI
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2. Re: Trip Report: 3 Days in Bologna

We woke early this morning, because our driver and guide from EmilianLand Tours met us at the hotel at 7:30 am for a tour of 3 food "factories." We drove out towards Modena. First stop was a Parmesan cheese cooperative.

When we arrived, they were already in the process of making the cheese, but it was happening in different stages, so we saw all the steps, just in random order.

There were 3 workers there making the cheese. We saw fresh milk being delivered straight from the farm, pumped into the large vats, and then made into cheese, right up to the point that they put it in the molds.

After that, it goes to the seasoning room for 2 days, then to the aging room for up to 2 years. We learned about the inspection process too. The inspector taps the wheels with a hammer and he can tell by the way it sounds if there are cracks or air bubbles.

Next up was the tasting. We got to taste 3 different ages of cheese, from 12 months old to 30 months old.

Our next stop was a Modena Prosciutto producer. It was a family business, ran by a brother and sister. The ham is basically seasoned with salt, then alternates between resting and sweating in rooms of different temperatures and humidities. After a year, it is also inspected, then certified.

And of course, we had to sample the prosciutto too. We ate it with bread sticks and Lambrusco to drink. It was fun to stand around with both the owners and talk about their product and our trip.

Last stop of the day was a balsamic vinegar producer. Their vineyards were in the country, but we visited their estate where they make the vinegar. I will say, their balsamic vinegar is different than what we have in the U.S. It was much thicker, though not quite syrupy. They let it age for at least 12 years, and the older it is, the thicker it is too.

We were able to sample about 6 varieties. The owner of the company was very passionate about her product. Her family has owned the business for many years.

After the vinegar stop, we were taken to a restaurant where we had a traditional 4 course meal, with the appetizer, pasta dish, meat dish, and dessert. It was very filling, but delicious.

We were dropped back at our hotel around 3pm. We rested for a bit, then decided to go exploring

We stopped by the Archiginnasio to see the Anatomy Theater, a wood paneled room where medical students learned about the human body (particularly interesting to me since I work in healthcare). The area where the instructor stood is flanked by 2 "skinned" bodies. The entire room was wood paneled, including the ceiling. It was pretty impressive.

After we left, we wandered around the Quadrilateral markets, then stopped for gelato before heading back to the hotel.

I haven't reviewed EmilianLand Tours yet, but the tour was one of the highlights of our trip.


Sheboygan, WI
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3. Re: Trip Report: 3 Days in Bologna

Our last day in Italy. Sad Face. We started with breakfast at the hotel, then made our way to the Quadrilateral markets to meet Barbara for our market tour before the cooking course we had booked. There was a couple from LA there as well.

We had walked through the market the evening before, which allowed us to take photos while it was less crowded.

Barbara talked about the market and how certain streets were named based on what was sold there etc.

She bought some meat at the meat shop, then we walked to the kitchen for our lesson. The walk was a bit long, almost all the way to one of the gates of the city, but Barbara kept it interesting by sharing facts about the city as we went.

When we arrived, we started with a coffee break, then started on the food. We were making gnocchi, tortelloni and tagliatelle with various sauces.

Each of us was given certain tasks, from chopping vegetables, to mashing the potato for gnocchi.

And then of course we got to eat our creations. The tortelloni was served with a garlic butter sauce, the gnocchi with a red sauce, and the tortelloni with Bolognese sauce (ragu).

After the cooking class, we headed back towards Piazza Maggiore to see some of the things Barbara had mentioned, like the old city walls beneath the glass floor in the Sala Borsa.

We headed back to the hotel to rest up a bit. Our last plan of the day was to make our way up to San Luca to walk the porticoes. We got a late start, and it took us longer to catch a bus than expected, so we ended up catching the last bus up to the place. And the church itself has just closed, so we weren't able to go in, which was disappointing. But we were able to walk down the path beneath the arcades. It wasn't quite as wonderful as I'd hoped. Only one side of the path was open (the other being a wall) and most of the time there were trees blocking any views of the city. When we finished, we caught the bus back to our hotel.

We ended the evening by eating a 3 euro pizza in our hotel room while watching Italy play in the World Cup.

Then it was bed time so we could get up at 3 am to catch our ride to the airport!

Again, I haven't reviewed our cooking class yet, but it was another highlight of our trip!


San Antonio, Texas
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4. Re: Trip Report: 3 Days in Bologna

Really nice report and pictures on your blog. Thanks.

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5. Re: Trip Report: 3 Days in Bologna

Your trip sounds great. If you don't mind my asking, how much was the cost of the tours that you arranged?


Sheboygan, WI
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6. Re: Trip Report: 3 Days in Bologna

The food tour was 130 euro per person, plus 30 euro for lunch.

The cooking class was 90 euro pp.

And the walking tour in Siena (in my Tuscany review) was 150 euro total (so 50 each).

All were worth it. I personally don't mind staying at less luxurious accommodations in order to spend more money on tours like these.

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7. Re: Trip Report: 3 Days in Bologna

Great trip report, with loads of details and wonderful photos on your blog, thanks for sharing.

8. Re: Trip Report: 3 Days in Bologna

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