A travel discovery for us

After 5.5 years of continuous travel, we still marvel at the many discoveries of great destinations out there. Case in point: Bologna, Italy.  After our stay in Ravenna, we planned to fly back to the US, and the best nearby airport was Bologna.   We booked a hotel in Bologna for a three-day stay – long enough to look around and to relax before the long flights back.  We knew nothing about Bologna, and who knew what a marvelous place it would turn out to be!

We settled into our hotel, Il Canale, situated right on a canal.

Since we’d done no reading about Bologna before our arrival, we just plunged in with a few excellent recommendations from the hotel staff.

It seemed that everywhere we walked was under a portico.  We later read that in the city center there are over 45 km (28 mi) of portico-covered walkways.

We headed for the highly recommended Basilica of Santo Stefano, actually a complex of what was seven churches. The oldest church dates back to the 4th century.

One of the churches within the Basilica of Santo Stefano complex is the 5th century Church of the Holy Sepulchre. Many architectural features fascinated us – particularly the dome.

The churches in Bologna that we saw tended to be of simpler design but quite large. The woman in the lower right provided a human scale.

As we strolled through town one afternoon, we passed an open archway.  When we peeked in, we saw others inside looking around so we stepped inside as well.   We had just entered the oldest university in continuous operation in the world, founded in 1088.  This palace was constructed in 1562-1563 to become the single home of the University of Bologna.

Nearly 6,000 students’ coats of arms grace the galleries, the staircases, and walls of the rooms.

As if the coats of arms weren’t enough, monuments and sayings of the professors were added as wall decorations.

After a few days in Bologna, we weren’t surprised to read that Bologna might be considered the food capital of Italy. Certainly, every meal we had there led us to believe this might be true – from the late afternoon in a piazza where snacks were served with our drinks to the homemade pasta in a nearby trattoria to the very tasty sandwich we ordered at the central food court, served on a best-we-ever-tasted black crunchy sesame roll.

It was time to pull back from the table and get in a long walk.  We headed for Giardini Margherita, a large park just outside the historic walled city.

Turtles and fish gathered in the pond as children leaned over the bridge railing and threw them bits of food – providing the perfect photo opportunity for us.

As we walked back to our hotel, another photographer aimed his camera at us.

We hadn’t planned anything in Bologna except our departure from the airport.  What a delightful and unexpected travel surprise the city turned out to be!  Certainly we’re not alone in such a discovery.  What’s yours?


May 2018

About simpletravelourway

Beth and Joe enjoy simple travel.
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7 Responses to A travel discovery for us

  1. Italophilia says:

    I can’t wait to visit this city someday!! excellent introduction.

  2. So fun to visit a new place with no expectations and find so many delightful surprises! I think I’d love to explore some of the portico-covered-walkways if they’re anything like the one in your photo. You’d have to walk real slow though to avoid tripping since your head would be tilted back looking at the ceiling! Anita

  3. Friends of our have just returned from a holiday in Italy and they spent two nights in Bologna. They are wishing they’d allowed far more time. They loved it and are already planning to go back.

  4. Beth and Joe – it’s always nice to get refreshing surprises along the way, isn’t it? I wonder if you wished you had more time in Bologna? Sometimes, 3 days is enough but….

  5. plaidcamper says:

    Looks like a great place to spend a few days!
    My travel surprise was Ancona, Italy. Went for a teaching conference, was told not to get too excited about Ancona by the organizer, but I thought it was lovely – great people, fabulous food, and a gateway to beautiful Marche hilltop villages. Even the airport food was excellent! Don’t remember too much about the conference…

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