We will be traveling from Pisa to Venice and would like to make a stop in Bologna on our way for lunch and a quick look around. This will be on a Wednesday in Ocotber. Does anyone have any suggestions. We like to shop ~ I understand that there are beautiful porticoes there. Any info would be appreciated.
Bologna is beautiful and overlooked and the covered sidewalks are wonderful for walking, shopping and browsing. However, the traffic is terrible and I don't know about stopping for lunch because you will spend a lot of minutes getting in and out of the historic center. It would be better to spend the night. You might have an easier time getting in and out of Modena (a couple of stops north on the autostrada). It has plenty of history, great shopping on a smaller scale, and of course, wonderful food. For lunch, try Trattoria Bianca on Via Spaccini--excellent. For foodstuffs (porcini mushrooms, balsamic vinegar, ham) be sure to stop by the famous shop "Salumeria Giuseppe Giusti" on Via Farini. If you have lunch in Bologna, pick up the great little guide, "Footprint Bologna" on Amazon. All the good dining spots are in there. Good luck!
Bologna is an industrial/commercial centre but the old historical part is just lovely. I was there for 3 days with a trade show and had time to explore the old centre. It's very concentrated - all the historical sites are virtually next to each other - so it's easy to navigate. I also had some of the best food from my Italian trip there. I think it's worth the stop. The Cathedral is certainly worth seeing.
Kathy, I am sitting in an internet cafe in Bologna right now. Have been here for 3 nights, one more to go. I can tell you, in my opinon, it is worth one day, or on half day. From the train station, head left to the main street, walk under the portico and you will arrive at the main piazza. The Neptune fountain is right there, and the church right behind. The church here is really nothing to look at, compared to Florence, Siena, etc. The inside is very plain, but it is free, so take a look. the most fun is looking at the two towers (torre) just to the left of the piazza, and take the time to climb the 500 steps to the top for 3€, the view to the leaning tower is amazing.
shopping...there are tons of stores, but I can promise you that it is the same stuff we have in the US. If you want designer brands, you can find them in the covered shopping area just to the left of the church..D &G, LV, etc. REally, not my cup of tea. I find that shopping in Italy is a waste of time!
For what it's worth, (a lot to my loving husband) the Ferrari museum and factory are nearby in Maranello. We spent the night in Maranello and regretted so much time there as the museum is two hours max. We took a taxi from there to the Bologna train station so it is not far.