I’m currently in Bologna, Italy as part of the BlogVille project on behalf of my own Our Tasty Travels and No Checked Bags blogs. The project is sponsored by the Emilia Romagna Tourism Board, and I think it’s safe to say on behalf of the other bloggers here, we have all fallen in love with Bologna and the Emilia Romagna region as a whole.
That’s the question I keep getting from friends and even a few readers back home.
Uhh, have you not seen the hundred or so photos and status messages I’ve posted over the last few days???
Sitting here in Bologna, I have to admit I am surprised by how much I have fallen in love with the city. I’ve done some of the big bucket list Italy stops like Venice, Rome, Naples, and Pompeii in the past. As much as I longed to see these stops after my brief major in Art History during college, I haven’t been back to Italy since 2006.
I was fascinated by what I saw and experienced, but apparently it was not enough to motivate me to return to Italy anytime over the past six years. When the opportunity for BlogVille came up – and I was accepted – it seemed like a sign I was meant to return to Italy again.
Bologna and the entire Emilia Romagna region that I’ve seen so far are vastly different from major tourist cities like Venice, Rome, and the like.
Bologna Moves at a Different Pace
The pace is much slower than other Italian cities I’ve visited. In Naples they warned us about even trying to cross the street on a green signal as there is a good chance you may still be run over. Here in Bologna, I was able to stand in the middle of the main street at one point to snap a photo of the two towers, a landmark of the city.
English is Widely Spoken
Surprisingly, the number of English speakers here is quite high. While we’ve tried to muddle through with a blend of broken Italian and Spanish, we’ve encountered English speakers everywhere – from restaurant servers to taxi drivers, making it an easy city to navigate.
Emilia Romagna is Cheaper
While I can’t speak for the entire region, it is noticeably cheaper here than other parts of Italy I’ve visited. Some cafes still charge extra for sitting versus standing, but in general, I have not noticed the “tourist gouge” that other cities are noted for.
Bologna Equals Good Food
One thing that will come out through all my upcoming posts about BlogVille is the insane love I’ve developed with food here. Italian is one type of cuisine that doesn’t typically rank as one of “my must haves” or even place in my top 5. The one item that previously did is pizza from Naples, especially when made with tomatoes grown in the volcanic ash of Pompeii. I found the food in Rome and other places to be very good, but it did not “wow” me per se.
The food here definitely has that “wow” factor. So much so that I am honestly considering road trips back to Emilia Romagna when I get settled in the Netherlands just to pick up meats, cheese, and maybe a few homemade pastas. I’ve eaten more pasta in the last four days than I usually eat in a year and surprisingly I am not sick of it in the least. In fact, after taking a pasta making class, it’s quite possible I will be attempting some of these traditional specialties at home soon.
Bologna Feels Safe
While I am sure some crime exists here, that constant panic and concern about pickpockets or winding up robbed in a dark alley somewhere have vanished. As a female, this is one area I would feel safe being a solo traveler in or walking home later in the evening from a restaurant or bar.
Emilia Romagna is Inviting
Unlike so many of the rude people I’ve often encountered in bigger cities, nearly everyone I’ve had interactions with here has been quite friendly and helpful. They are welcoming to foreigners and seem pleased to have tourists here discovering all the elements that make Bologna such a charming city.
While I’m here on behalf of BlogVille and the Emilia Romagna Tourism Board, all views and opinions expressed are my own.