My third visit to Italy. I had grown to like the country a lot after my visits to Rome and Naples. So, another good connection from Sofia is to Bologna. Wizzair flies on Friday night and you can get back on Sunday night. You get the full weekend, just perfect. Yet, the restaurants close late in Italy, so you can sit down in an Italian restaurant on Friday night, after a long workday! From the airport, there's bus connections for 6 Euros into town. They are building a railway line as well. I found a hotel near the airport, Hotel Brianza. I walked there, which I strongly advise against, because there are no pavements. From the airport, only taxis will get you there. The hotel was perfect for my needs. Good cappuccinos with breakfast, what a way to start the weekend! Hotel/restaurant Emi nearby is good as well. From this area, there are two city buses going to the center about once every half hour on the weekends. The bus lines are 81 and 91. Tickets are bought at tobacco stores, just google Tabaccheria Benini Laura in Google Maps. It's right near Hotel Brianza and Hotel Emi. At night, I found the last bus back to the hotel was at around 21:30. So, I do recommend staying in the center, if you don't have a car. On this occasion, I had to take a taxi, which cost 20 Euros. Fair price, but should have stayed near the center or the train station instead. I visited Bologna a second time and stayed in the Hotel Maggiore, which was fine for me as a solo traveler. It was definitely good to be closer to the center.
As I got to the center in the morning, as always, I started with some good coffee and I started walking - just following my senses. Bologna is not too crowded. It's Italy's seventh most populous city with over 388 thousand people. The metropolitan area has over a million inhabitants. Also, it's said to be one of Italy's best cities to live in. The infrastructure is good, the city is clean and there are many people riding bikes in the streets. Bologna has a classical feel to it, a stylish city. Like in the whole country, people dress well and are very friendly to their visitors.
There are many well-kept gardens and parks and the people seem to love the city they live in. It's in the region Emilia-Romagna. This region borders the Adriatic coast in the east and the Apennine mountains in the south. In the north of the region is the river Po. The Po Plain stretches out north of Bologna and this province, at least the northern part, is quite flat. Bologna has continental Europe's oldest university, founded in 1088. Dante, Boccaccio and Petrarca are just a few of the famous people whom studied here. The university's botanical garden is the fourth oldest in Europe. The Two Towers, Bologna's main symbol, are two leaning towers right in the center. The Asinelli tower is the tallest of the two, with 97,2 metres. The Garisenda tower, right next to it, is 48 metres tall. Both towers have an overhang of 3,2 and 2,2 metres respectively. Surely check out the Wikitravel article on Bologna on what museums to visit.
It's best to visit the region from March to October. In July and August it gets really hot and besides, in August, much of the city closes down and the citizens themselves go on vacation. Near Bologna you have a lot to visit. This is a very distinct region of Italy. It's said there are even some French influences in the language spoken. Some cities you can easily visit by train and are very close: Modena, Carpi, Regio Emilia and Parma to the west. Then to the north there's Ferrara, Rovigo and Padua (Padova) farther north. I visited Venice as well but this was very rushed, as the last train back left earlier than expected. Other than that, I'd focus on the cities nearby should I come back. They are all interesting, quaint and just nice to walk around. The circled pictures below were taken in Ferrara, Modena, Regio Emilia and Imola. Enjoy the area, take it slowly!