It was an early start for my flight to Bologna, and we left Dubai on time at 9am. The cabin was less than half full in business class, which made for a nice and easy flight, and we landed into sunny Bologna in the early afternoon, ready to explore!
It was the first time for all of us, since it’s a relatively new destination for Emirates, so a big group of us set out to see what the city has to offer.
Our crew hotel is located around a 15-20 minute walk from the city centre, and we strolled through a beautiful passageway surrounded by lovely arches.
We knew we had arrived when we were greeted by two huge towers, Le Due Torre, quite literally towering over us!
The history of the towers is quite interesting – during the 12th and 13th century there were up to 180 towers throughout the city of Bologna. However during the 13th century the majority were either taken down, demolished, or simply collapsed. Of the original towers once present, less than 20 remain today.
The two which are in the city centre are named the Asinelli Tower (the taller of the two, at 97m) and the Garisenda Tower (slightly shorter at “only” 48m).
Since not everyone was in the mood to climb the 498 steps up to the top, I decided to save that for next morning.
Much like the rest of Italy, the city is filled with beautiful architecture and pretty buildings. We strolled around the city centre, roughly following a map which had a few points on that the concierge had recommended.
Since it was a Sunday afternoon, the city was bustling and everyone was out with friends and family enjoying the beautiful June weather.
Since we’d all had such a long hard day at work (*cough cough*), it was time for an Italian tradition – Aperol Spritz! By far the best summer drink, a mixture of Aperol, a slightly bitter orange flavoured aperitif, prosecco, soda water, plenty of ice, and a slice of orange. Delicious!
The concierge had recommended a lovely little bar called Tamburini, which had plenty of seats outside.
We ordered a selection of delicious meats and cheeses, and barely had space on the tables to put it all on!
After a couple of drinks and more prosciutto, salami and cheese than I thought possible, we decided to make a move and see a bit more of the city.
And just in case we hadn’t eaten enough already, we grabbed an ice cream from a spot next door, Venchi!
It has to be one of the creamiest ice-creams I’ve ever tried – when it comes to food, Italians get it right, that’s for sure.
Since we were a big group, we split up and 4 of us continued on to walk around the city. The concierge had mapped out an area to explore, so we sort of followed his suggestion, stopping for pictures whenever we saw something we liked.
I’m so glad we got lucky with the weather, as the forecast was actually for thunderstorms. We did hear a couple of huge claps of thunder at one point, but the rain seemed to stay away!
Our walk took us past a beautiful church, where we stopped in the courtyard and sat for a while to take in the view.
We continued on through some pretty back streets, spotting flowers tumbling out of window boxes and pretty wooden shutters.
As soon as I saw Bologna on my roster the previous month, the first thing that popped into my head was spaghetti bolognese. It’s my all-time favourite meal, and I was so excited to eat it in the original city, but somehow we ended up having so much prosciutto that I had no space left for pasta! I was sad I didn’t have the chance (or stomach space) to eat it, but I knew I’d be coming back.
We slowly made our way back towards the hotel to call it a night.
The next morning I made it down to the breakfast buffet, and since it finished at 10, I still had a couple of hours to climb up the tower that I hadn’t managed the day before. I made my way into the city, paid the 3 Euro entrance fee, and climbed 498 steps to the top!
Along the way there are a few open windows, which have coins thrown along the windowsill. I’m guessing it’s some sort of good luck charm, like throwing a coin in the Trevi Fountain in Rome!
Once I stepped outside back into the sunshine, I was greeted by this incredible view over the city.
Don’t look down!
Luckily the platform on the top has a sort of wire protection to stop anybody from accidentally falling, although I was sightly worried about dropping my phone down!
The viewing platform isn’t huge, though it does go all the way round, so you can get a 360 view of the city and the rolling hills beyond.
As you can see from my very red face, it was a rather hot & sweaty walk up those stairs!
I love how you can see the pretty churches down below with their turquoise rooftops, such a nice pop of colour in an otherwise very red city!
I headed back down as it started to get busy – the stairs are pretty tight so you can only let others pass if you wait in the corners at each turn.
Since I had a little bit of time left before I had to be back for the wake-up call, I strolled along the main shopping street. Somehow I managed to do a fair bit of damage in Zara, and still made it back just in time!
What a glorious trip to another beautiful Italian city, and stay tuned for the next post where I finally managed to get a taste of the traditional bolognese!