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An Afternoon in Bologna

sunny 90 °F
View Post-College Eurotrip on atbrady's travel map.

The train ride was fairly uneventful. When we arrived in Bologna, the shops at the train station were trying to sell maps of Bologna for 7 euros. I refused to pay 10 bucks for a map we were going to use for half a day in Bologna. I had bought our Venice and Florence maps ahead of time in Rome for 3 euros each and our Pisa map was 1 euro, so it was kind of ridiculous. Regardless, it’s pretty tough to find your way around a brand new city without one, which I guess is what they were counting on. Instead, we walked along the main road until we found a map posted in a coffee shop. I couldn’t find our street and eventually thought to look in my emails on my phone and found that my reservation confirmation had some directions from the train station. It wasn’t too far away, but it was north of the train station and the map only went as far north as the station but we got there without a hitch after that. I was ecstatic to have avoided being a sucker when we got to our hotel and they gave us a free map.

Our hotel is actually pretty nice, which I was surprised about given the price. Its pretty much the only legit hotel we have stayed at, rather than a hostel or converted apartment. We threw our things down quickly as it was already mid afternoon and headed down the street toward the historical center of the city. We’re pretty much 3 minutes from the one main road that takes us there. After being in Florence, I was immediately struck by how few tourists we saw in Bologna. In fact, we may have been the only ones. The main drag was lined with shops with great prices rather than tourist-inflated ones. We even stopped by what we thought was a small Mercado off one of the side streets but found it to be an enormous maze of a flea marketselling clothes, shoes, jewelry and anything else you can imagine. It was a great change of pace to try to blend in to the local culture rather than being tourists and visitng all of the sites. The only thing working against us was that I was the only blonde in the whole city.

When we got to the historical part of Bologna, I was blown away to see the towers I had learned about during pledging, the Torre degli Asinelli and the nearby Torre Garisendi which leans quite a bit. They were actually doing some restorations on the towers and had some huge signs explaining the history of the towers, which I really enjoyed learning about. Apparently, Torre Garisendi was abandoned as it began to lean, so instead they tried again and built Torre degli Asinelli right next door. Garisendi had been saved from demolition several times and now has some metal brackets around it to keep it stable. Apparently both are in some danger of falling in the coming years, hence the restoration work. This made me even more grateful that I had been able to fit it into my trip. The only unfortunate thing was that by the time we made it there, we were too late to climb to the top of Torre degli Asinelli, which would have been cool. In a few places around the city, we were also able to see the ancient wall that used to surround the city, which was interesting.

After seeing the towers, we were both pretty hungry and decided to walk back down the main strip since we had seen several restaurants along the way. However, everywhere we went all they had was small hors douvers trays which we think were free if you bought a drink at the bar/restaurant. We weren’t sure whether everyone around here ate early and then had these types of snacks later on or what, but we must have walked into 25 “restaurants” only to find the same thing. Eventually, we remembered that we had seen a great sandwich shop while wandering around looking for a map and hoped to God it was still open. It was, and we had some fantastic sandwiches and sat on a few benches by a fountain at the train station. We headed back to our hotel for some internet time to figure out our hotel for Venice and plan our two days there to make the most of them. I ended up finding a great hotel on Priceline that was inexpensive (for Venice) and was actually a really nice hotel with a fantastic location right on the main Piazza. I’ve really become addicted to the way that we live by the moment and figure things out at the last minute. It’s been working out great and getting us some great deals!

Posted by atbrady 08:20 Archived in Italy Tagged shopping

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