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Travel: Rome and Bologna, suggestions please

  1. Matty01 Port Adelaide's No.1 Fan Mar 12, 2023

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    G’day I’ll be heading to Germany France and Italy for work next month (wine buying for an Australian based wine retailer) I’m lucky enough to have some downtime- some days free in both
    Rome and
    Bologna
    Wondering if anyone has any recommendations of interesting things to do/see/eat in either region?
    Am open to day trips too
    Cheers
    Matt
     
  2. BlackTalon This Space for Rent Mar 12, 2023

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    You will find no shortage of things to do in Rome. You can kill a few hours (or more) at the Vatican. There are loads of interesting churches/ cathedrals. Wander around the Forum site. Climb around the Coliseum. Get you wallet pick-pocketed at the Spanish Steps. Hang out at Piazza Navona. People-watch at the Trevi Fountain. Check out the Pantheon (my favorite building in the world). Eat pizza and gelato from street vendors. Visit the Medici Gardens. Head over to the beach, which is in a largely industrial area (or at least it was an industrial area a couple decades ago; probably more touristy now).

    I have only briefly visited Bologna; I think we were taken to an ancient amphitheater. But the area is beautiful. And you may enjoy the food there even more than Rome.
     
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  3. bubba48 Mar 12, 2023

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    In Bologna you absolutely must climb the Torre degli Asinelli.
    Built between 1109 and 1119 by the noble Gherardo Asinelli, the tower is 97.20 meters high, leans towards the west for 2.23 meters and has a stairway made up of 498 steps.
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    Then the nearby Piazza Maggiore is one of the most beautiful squares in Italy.

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    The dishes I recommend: Tagliatelle al ragù, Tortellini in brodo.

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    Edited Mar 12, 2023
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  4. jsducote Mar 13, 2023

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    If you're interested in seeing St. Peter's Basilica in Rome, my #1 trip hack is to take the crypt tour first thing in the morning. Last time I checked, you have to send them an email with the day & time you want to visit. But when you go, you enter through a side door, skipping the line of people trying to go in the front door. When the crypt tour finishes, you're in the Basilica with free roam. From there you can also get to the line to climb the dome, which is totally worth it.
     
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  5. Tony C. Ωf Jury member Mar 13, 2023

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  6. bubba48 Mar 13, 2023

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    Tony C. likes this.
  7. Syzygy Mar 13, 2023

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    +1 to everything @BlackTalon mentioned. We snagged tickets to Medici Gardens ahead of our visit so as to not waste time in line. The trick of the early morning crypt tour to get in to St. Peter's Basilica is a brilliant hack!

    If you want to get out of the crowds, we found Ostia Antica very pleasant. It wasn't bumper to bumper tourists and the mosaics and ruins were amazing.
     
  8. Donn Chambers Mar 16, 2023

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    In addition to the suggestions for Vatican City already posted, go to Castel Saint Angelo up the way. Every time I’ve gone (twice) there was hardly any line and it’s a unique building. The bottom is Hadrian’s Tomb, and has a long spiraling ramp up to the top, where the old papal apartments are. At the very top, you get a great view of Rome. I never climbed to the top of the Basilica because the lines were too long (and I have a touch of claustrophobia and did not want to have a panic attach in the narrator passages in the dome).

    The view from the top of Castel Saint Angelo is probably the second best view of Rome.
     
  9. joeshoup Mar 16, 2023

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    I used to live in Bologna and it's a fun place to visit - not touristy, but still more international than many cities of its size because of the university.

    If you're there on a Saturday morning, absolutely go to the farmer's market in the courtyard of the Cineteca di Bologna, which has great artisanal products: https://mercatoritrovato.it/ They had some interesting biodynamic wines - I will never forget this incredible pignoletto spumante we used to get there for the amazing sum of €6/bottle. I really got to enjoy the regional wines like pignoletto, lambrusco, and trebbiano, which are rarely seen where I like (west coast US).

    I second the suggestion to tour the Torre Asinelli - from there I would wander down to Piazza Santo Stefano and tour the church complex there, which is a nice medieval architecture mashup. Really just aimlessly wandering around the historic center is a great afternoon!

    If you want a taste of medieval student life, the Osteria del Sole was founded in the 15th century and is shockingly unpretentious and chill. They serve good wine, you bring your own snacks, maybe an assortment of salumi from Eataly (the original) or Tamburini down the street.

    Via del Pratello is a great evening walk, stuffed with bars and restaurants and live music venues.

    The Museo della Storia di Bologna in Piazza Pepoli is a great museum that won't take all day (figure 2 hours), unlike a lot of Italian museums...

    If you're into the modern culture game, the Cineteca has interesting programming, and MAMBO is occasionally brilliant for modern and contemporary art.

    To eat, obviously you should have a nice tagliatelle al ragù and tortellini in brodo while you're there. There are so many good osterie that can help you with these. Some less-known regional foods are the piada or piadina (similar to a quesadilla but with things like arugula, prosciutto, etc inside), and crescentine and tigelle, a fried bread and biscuit respectively that are eaten with mortadella, scquaquerone cheese, and other good stuff. Zerocinquantino, right off the Piazza Maggiore, is an easy place to procure the latter, if a bit posh.

    Bologna is not famed for its pizza, but La Bella Napoli in Via San Felice is the best pizza spot in town and I'll fight you if you say otherwise.

    NB: These tips are all pre-pandemic, I don't know how things have changed!
     
  10. lillatroll Mar 16, 2023

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    Free walking tours are always a good bet, I always go on them if they are available. They are genuinely free and rely on tips. Been on hundreds of them over the years, one of the best ways to get a feel for a city. If you go to the Vatican city, it would take you 16 years to see everything if you looked at them for 2 seconds each.