As promised, a new installment of my hiking efforts, this time an urban one through the ancient city of Bologna in Northern Italy.
Hi there, this is me in one of those typical Bologna streets. From the first time (exactly a year ago this month) I set foot in Italy, I adored this country. So, planning a new hiking trip there was no hardship. I wanted to see more of Toscana (Tuscany), as that is the region I have read a lot about, and obviously because of Shakespeare's plays (English teacher forever, right?).
Nowadays planning your own trips is easy as pie through the Internet, so my friend Rina and I booked a cheap plane ticket from Eindhoven to Bologna, not quite knowing what to expect. I had read up on the city, and learnt it has a University and a music college, so a lot of students, and also learnt of its numerous arcades, but that was it.
So did I get a pleasant surprise or what?!
The above church on the Piazza Maggiore by the way is one of the oldest and the second largest church of Italy. I was told that it came too close to being larger than St. Peter in Rome, and the then Pope stopped all building works thereafter, so it is unfinished to this day.
I thought it was interesting, marble and beauty at ground level and then austere bricks on top.
The weather was atrocious though...11 degrees and raining off and on. Not quite what us delta dwellers had expected (last year May in Rome it was a blistering 29 degrees - also not what we had expected, but great).
So one of the first things I did when in Bologna was race into OVS, a wonderful store, and buy a sweatshirt.
We walked those arcades with pleasure, as the busy motor traffic was banned to the middle of the road, which was often congested, but us pedestrians had it easy.
My reading had told me there is a 3.8 km long 666 arches arcade leading right up the side of a 300 m high hill, which takes you to the Basilicaof St. Luca, and I definitely wanted to hike up that hill, for the view of the Medeaval city . But we were told by a nice waiter that it being the week of the Madonna diSan Luca, there would be a procession going up that hill that day, and it would be terribly crowded and not advisable to try it.
We stuck to the inner city arcades instead.
This tower is the Torre dell'Arengo, and on both sides of the street you have a good example of the arcades.
The tower is one of the 24 remaining (out of an original 100!)high narrow towers of the city, built to defend the palazzos.
All in all we walked for hours and hours, soaking up the relaxed atmosphere (and rain...)and ending up in a wonderful restaurant run by twin ladies, where I had aubergine-filled tortellini with gorgonzola-cream sauce (yummy!)and the best-tasting beer ever (that could have something to do with the fact that I was extremely thirsty and tired at the time). And I love the Italian habit of presenting their guests with free bread, olive oil and salt and pepper as a starter! Our Dutch Italian restaurants do the same - but at a price...
Right: down to the nitty-gritty.
We stayed at B&B Alle Torri (see the view from our window above) with clean rooms and amenities, good breakfast and (for me very important) all the free espresso and free Wi-Fi I needed.
Walking distance from the B&B to the centre of town: 10 minutes. The only downside I can mention is that the students at the corner bar right underneath our window kept up their lively shouting until 3 am.
Number of steps walked in Bologna: 15.303, which amounts to approx. 20 kms.
Temp: a chilly rainy 11 degrees to 18 degrees when it was dry.
Travelled from Bologna to Florence by slow train (1 hr and 45 mins), costing €16. Link to official Tourist Office video:Bologna