Bologna & Near Venice

After spending a day in beautiful (but hyper-touristy) Venice, we took the expert advice of our hotel’s concierge, hired a car, and took off to a “real” Italian city: Bologna.  Bologna is Italy’s 7th largest city and sits at a gateway between the picturesque (but poor) South, and the industrialized North.  It’s also known for its cuisine, breaddy pastas and of course the sauce Bolognese.

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We hired a Fiat Panda for the day at a cost of GBP22 (about C$35).  It is one of my favorite rental cars so far, with a crisp shifter and frugal petrol engine.  The trip to Bologna is 160km, and including our detours we ended up driving about 450km in the day.  While petrol is expensive, the Panda only used EUR30 in gas for the whole trip.

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We saw these hills from the autostrada, and stopped to take a look.

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Bologna was a bit gritty.

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Now-dry canals in the city centre

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Bologna is home to the world’s 3rd oldest university, and Europe’s second largest preserved city centre.  Much of the city’s sidewalks were covered arcades, providing shelter from the elements.  During our visit in early March the temperature was about 16c.

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Covered sidewalk arcade, to the left.

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One of Bologna’s symbols is this the Two Towers, actually a cluster of medieval towers scattered throughout the old part of the city.  The big one is twice as tall as the Leaning Tower of Pisa.  And, for EUR3, you can climb it:

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In the main town square, we could hear music from a funeral service for an Italian musician (we found out later, Lucio Dalla).  You can see the square is packed with thousands of people wearing black.

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All in all, 498 stairs!

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On the way back, we checked in at the small city of Ravenna on the Adriatic coast, just south of Venice

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