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Bologna or Florence for a week?

DaddyDan

10+ Posts
We are looking at going to Tuscany and Emilia Romana for a week in October. I am trying to decide between staying in Florence or Bologna. Florence has a lot going for it with things to do, but I am affraid that it is now overunned by tourism. They are about 30 minutes apart by train, so it will not effect my plans too much. What is your thoughts between the two? Are there any recommendations for places to go that can be reached in around an hour by train?

Thanks!!
 

NoSpin

100+ Posts
There will be tourists in Florence in October, but it will hardly be overrun. If you are based in Bologna, go to Modena and Maranello if you are a car enthusiast. Ravenna and Rimini are nice, and maybe San Marino won't be a stretch (never did it by train).

From Florence, I'd recommend Pisa (just to see the Tower and then leave) and Lucca.
 

ncp

10+ Posts
When in October? Lucca hosts the European version of Comic-Con over Halloween every year and it covers the entire historic center with tents and attendees are all in costumes. Unlikely you’ll find an available place to stay nearby.
 

Ian Sutton

1000+ Posts
Bologna will be noticeably less touristy than Florence, indeed outside of Piazza Nettuno to le due torri, you'll probably not notice tourism... it's still very much a functional city.

I like Bologna, especially as a place to grab an apartment and graze the food shops. October is great for the produce that will be available. It's decently weatherproof with a decent run of porticoed streets, but we generally find October a good month for weather - often warm but rarely hot. Not much in the way of rain either.

In terms of easy day trips, it's a little bit of a mixed bag. On the upside, there are frequent fast services on the (via Emilia) mainline, including Faenza, Parma, Modena, Imola, Reggio nell'Emilia, with Ferrara and Ravenna both within sensible day trip range. However... as is often the case in Italy, the train stations are typically a brisk walk away from the centre, so do factor that in to both the time needed, and energy levels for the day.

I will recommend a lowkey but sociable little white truffle festival in Pianoro (a ~ 45 minute bus ride from Bologna). Maybe 12 stalls of good produce, an exhibition by the local mycological society and a communal dining area to eat truffles on pasta etc. A tourist activity where the tourists are likely to be Italians (mixed in with locals). I think it had 2 weekends, so there's a chance it might coincide with your trip.

Bologna has a good tourist office in Piazza Nettuno, so worth a browse of their website to see what's happening

Downsides for Bologna? If staying in hotels, prices can get very high, and are often influenced by whether large conferences / conventions are happening that week in the city. We've also had surprisingly mixed experience with restaurants, which may just be bad luck on our part (the food shops have been much more rewarding)
 

ellen

100+ Posts
This is a much longer day trip than you have in mind, but something to consider if you like truffles.

The town of Sant'Agata Feltria holds a truffle festival every Sunday in October: https://www.prolocosantagatafeltria.com/fiera-nazionale-del-tartufo-bianco-pregiato/

It's a pain to get to using public transit, however. Unless they add a special bus run on those Sundays the closest you can get is the new town of Feltria (Novafeltria) and it takes about two hours to get that far (train from Bologna to Rimini about an hour, bus #160 from the train station to Novafeltria one hour). The bus that goes from Novafeltria up to Sant'Agata Feltria (#162) doesn't run on Sundays.

Bus info here: https://www.startromagna.it/

But, if you can figure out the transportation, a truffle festival is a great way to spend a Sunday.

As a fallback, in October I'm sure you'll find lots of different sagre in Emilia Romagna.
 

DaddyDan

10+ Posts
Thank you for the feedback! we have weighed the options and chose to stay in Florence. Bologna will probably be a day trip.. But not to Fico Eataly World. I have a few issues with that place.
 

joe

500+ Posts
Bologna will probably be a day trip.. But not to Fico Eataly World. I have a few issues with that place.
Hello DaddyDan -
We spent 5 days in Bologna in October 2018. We didn't go to Fico Eataly, and we haven't been to any of the big Eatalys.
However, in Bologna itself, in the heart of the old market, there is quite a nice collaboration between Eataly and an Italian bookchain called Librerie.coop. You have a small Eataly shop, with a combined trattoria and store for all types of Italian products (just like in the larger Eatalys), adjoined to a very nice bookstore. Sort of a common space for culture and gastronomy.
We didn't eat there, but bought a few products from the shop (mostly to use in the meals we prepared), and even a lovely children's book. I'd recommend taking a look there if this kind of experience might interest you. It's a small showcase for many culinary delights of good quality.
This area of the market in Bologna has become very frequented by tourists, but is still full of character and serious businesses.
 
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lisaonthecape

10+ Posts
I was leaning toward Bologna, with a stay in nearby (and lovely) Modena, probably because we just returned from there, but if you haven't been to Florence then that would have to be my choice between the two. From Florence, it's only about 40 minutes by train to Lucca, so if you're not there during Lucca Comics, that would definitely be my choice for a day trip. (It's our probable retirement destination and one of our favorite cities.) Siena is also an easy trip from Florence, although I would really recommend two days there. A day trip to Siena is not enough, and I love the contrast between Renaissance Florence and Gothic Siena.
 

vicogirl51

10+ Posts
Bologna would be my choice. My friend Palma always stays at Porta San Mammalo BnB. It’s wonderful and not crazy high hotel prices! I’ve also stayed there a few times and loved it. Easy walking distance everywhere!
The comics in Lucca are the end of Oct . Lots of costumed young people and wall to wall crowds unless they only sell a small number of tickets like last year. I’m not a fan as I went once years ago preCovid and even then just too many people . Freaked me out !! It’s Halloween on steroids lol!
 

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