My husband starts a new job in July, so we had our last opportunity to have a family vacation for the next couple of months as he will be blocked by his probation period. We jumped on the relatively cheap flights with Ryanair to Bologna and spent a week in Emilia Romagna, Italy. I worked three days remotely and took two days off. My husband played the role of a single dad (in close proximity to the sea and an apartment with a pool it was not so bad, I think). In the afternoon we reunited and did some city trips.
First time we visited Bologna was about four years ago and partied hard, so we didn’t see much of the city. This time it was different. We spent two first nights in Bologna in the hotel “Pedrini” in a fancy-looking room with a top view from the terrace over the red roofs of the city. However, this fancy room was small, so we were forced to spend time outside by any weather.
In contrast to many other cities, when it’s raining, Bologna is a perfect place to go for a stroll thanks to it’s porticoes, covered streets that stretch along the old city walls. Of course, when it doesn’t rain it is even better!
Did you know that there are Venice-like canals in Bologna? Actually, about 60 km of them, mostly hidden from the common eye. There are a few locations where you can get a sneaky glimpse at this part of the city’s heritage. The most intriguing one is a little window on the via Piella.
Another intriguing place of Bologna is the Anatomical Theatre of the Archiginnasio, a 17th-century anatomical lecture hall at the old medical school in Bologna. Actually, the whole building is stunning: the walls and the ceiling of its halls, its library feature beautiful motifs, sculptures and inscriptions. full of astrological symbols. The anatomical theatre itself is rather small but absolutely striking: its ceiling, walls and furniture are carved entirely out of spruce wood. The entrance fee is 3 Euro.
One of the landmarks of Bologna, the Two Towers, was built in the 12the century. The taller tower (97 m) is called the Asinelli while the smaller (48 m) but more leaning tower is called the Garisenda. You can climb 500 stairs for a breathtaking panorama view of the city. After this workout you can reward yourself with a delicious ice-cream at Gelateria Gianni (https://www.gelateriagianni.com/). The ice-cream there is quite expensive, you will queue with other tourists, but the result is worth it!
Piazza Maggiore is the central square of Bologna and preserves its appearance of the 15th century. There, the Basilica of San Petronio, the Duomo of Bologna is situated.
Important information for those who travels with a car
In Bologna, we aware of the Traffic Limited Zone (called Zona Traffico Limitato, ZTL) and avoid it. ZTL is basically everywhere inside the city walls. Only the vehicle owners with a special permit can drive into the city centre with their vehicle at certain times. It’s important to know in advance where the area begins, because the road signs aren’t clear and well visible.In our car rental package ZTL permit was not included, so we had to live with the consequences and park carefully.
There is no free parking in Bologna. To park your car, you have to look for the blue lines. The white lines mean you’re inside a resident zone and your car will be removed if you park there. The yellow lines are for buses, taxi or people with disabilities. The parking fee within the blue lines starts with 1,20 Euro per hour and gets more expensive close to the city walls. Between 8 pm and 8 am and on Sundays, parking is usually free of charge. Still, check the shields carefully or verify information on the red parking ticket machine. Paying was possible with coins or with a card (for instructions, you can switch the language, it is not very intuitive, but possible).
Since January 2021, baby seats in the car in Italy need to be equipped with a pillow which connects over bluetooth to your phone and gives you a signal if you left your car…and have forgotten your kid inside. Yes, I also haven’t heard about anything similar in other countries. Yes, double-check it with your car rental office. We travelled with our own baby seat (of course, not a beeping one) and therefore violated the rules without knowing they were in place.
This usually very lively resort was relatively empty because of the pandemic, so we didn’t have to fight for the sunbeds and umbrellas on the beach and didn’t have to cue for the restaurants. Four days in Rimini were relaxed, also thanks to the outdoor swimming pool and jacuzzi and included breakfast in the hotel/apartments complex Montmartre.
The sea was very calm with fine gray sand on the beach. Swimming with the baby was safe and easy. Besides, every beach has a playground, so your kids will be basically busy all the time. The only difficulty was to regularly apply the sunscreen and to keep the sunhat on them.
In the afternoon, we made a city trip to the town of Rimini. Depending on Mia’s sleeping routine, we planned only two hours for the visit. Here are the main sights we have enjoyed:
- The Tiberius Bridge: this 2000 years old bridge is one of the most remarkable sights of Rimini. This is a perfect place to start your Rimini tour as there is a parking lot available next to it.
- Crossing the bridge and heading straight to the city, you will go by the Piazza Cavour, the main city square. During our trip we realized that broad traffic-free zones like city squares are the best for traveling with a kid. There you can let your child run around and discover surroundings without worrying about cars driving around. Besides, even if your little one is running away, you still have him/her in sight for a very long time.
- Malatestiano Temple or Basilica Cattedrale is also known as the Cathedral of Santa Colomba or Dome of Rimini. It was conceived and designed, by artists such as Leon Battista Alberti and Piero della Francesca, for Sigismondo Pandolfo Malatesta ans served as the mausoleum church of the Malatesta family who ruled Rimini between between the 13th and the 16th centuries. This church is in fact a Franciscan church dating back to the 13th century, which restoration works started in 1450 were never completed.
We have visited Rimini only for a couple of hours (the limitation of traveling with a kid). If you want to know what else you can visit in this city, check the site of a fellow traveller: https://life-globe.com/en/sights-rimini/.
This half-day trip from Rimini is a must! 40-minutes ride is serpentine-like, as the city of San-Marino is situated on the top of a hill, so if you are prone to getting sick during the ride, call a shotgun. The ride there was peanuts. On the way back I had to make sure Mia did not fall asleep and suffered a lot in the back seat.
San Marino is the third smallest country in Europe after Vatican City and Monaco. Actually, I was imagining that San Marino is in fact one city, like Monaco. But I was surprised to discover that this country is much more than that. The city is called Città di San Marino and on that trip we visited only it (remember, child sleep schedule restrictions). This city is situated at the Mount Titano, so we have seen forests and fields surrounding it.
Perhaps the best known of all of San Marino’s attractions, Rocca Guaita and Torre Cesta are two fortress towers situated on a ridge at the summit of Mount Titano. The towers are part of a set of three that feature on the official flag of San Marino, and visitors can visit and tour the towers, the earliest of which, Rocca Guaita, dates from the 13th century. The two towers are usually visited together and Torre Cesta has a traditional weaponry museum on site. From the top of the towers there are stunning views that stretch as far as the Dalmatian Coast, as well as over the nearby Apennines. On top of Mount Titano, and surrounding the towers, you will find food and drink stands, souvenir stalls, and tourist kiosks.
Dating from the early part of the nineteenth century, the Basilica di San Marino was actually built upon the remains of a Roman church that originally stood in the fourth century.
Come to Piazza della Liberta for one of San Marino’s best loved traditions, the changing of the guard ceremony with the Guardie di Rocca. The Guardie are known for their green uniforms and red pompom hats, and the changing of the guard happens on the hour every hour during daylight hours in the summer months. After you have enjoyed this engaging traditional spectacle, head down the single main street that leads off Piazza della Liberta which is packed with restaurants, cafes, and charming boutiques that sell local handicrafts including San Marino’s most famous items, its duty-free products and exquisite ceramics.
Last stop before our flight back to Berlin was in Modena. This city is known as the world’s ‘Supercar Capital’, being the nearest large town to the homes of Maserati, Lamborghini and Pagani. Besides, many of you have a little bit of Modena in your kitchen if you love traditional balsamic vinegar. We’ve been to the shop of Giuseppe Giusti’ vinegar https://giusti.it/en/. We received a brief presentation on how aceto balsamico is made, aged for decades in wooden barrels, and tasted many vinegar types. On my goodness, I didn’t know that vinegar can taste so good! It reminded me of portwein and I was ready to even take a shot or two.
Modena’s city center is a high concentration of wide arcaded streets and large squares, as well as its palatial buildings and gardens. The beautiful ensemble of the 13th century cathedral, Piazza Grande, and the Ghirlandina Tower are listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
We didn’t prioritize visiting the Enzo Ferrari museum. But if you are into sports cars, go for it! Official site: http://museomodena.ferrari.com.
Modena’s covered Albinelli Market offers for over a century finest food products, local specialties that include the region’s famous balsamic vinegars and cured meats, as well as Parmigiano Reggiano cheeses and tortellini. They say, the Michelin star restaurants’ chefs go shopping here as well.
The public gardens of Modena, Giardini Pubblici, are located in the north east part of the historic town centre. Going for a stroll or eating your lunch on the grass or grabbing a drink in a reasonably priced cafe – the gardens are open for all options.
Generally, in June 2021, traveling to and inside Italy was quite easy.
- For the flight you need a swab PCR or antigen test not older than 48 hours. In Berlin, you can take a test in almost any pharmacy, you just need to ask them to add your passport number on the results sheet.
- At the airport of Bologna you can register in advance for a swab test. It costs 40 Euro and you will have to wait for results for 20 minutes. By the way, at the airport of Bologna there is a kiss&fly zone where you can stay for 10 minutes free with your car and a wait zone, where you can stay for 60 gratis. We were also told that you can take a free test at the central train station.
- You need to wear a mask outside (yes, also in the parks) in all Italian cities.
- Restaurants are open, but you sometimes need a reservation.
- You are not allowed to be on the streets after midnight.