Bologna might not have been our first choice destination for Spring Break…but it ended up being a great starting point for our trip! We knew we wanted to go somewhere in Italy and when we saw RyanAir had cheap flights out of Seville we decided to spend our four day getaway in Tuscany; we paid €120 round trip…and once we got to Bologna, Florence was just an hour and a half away.
Over the past four years Javi and I have spent Semana Santa (Holy Week/Easter/Spring Break) in London, Italy, Istanbul and Florida…I’ve written about all these experiences except for our trip to Italy in 2013 (this was during my pre-blogging days)…so here it is! If you don’t mind clouds and occasional rain I think March/April is a great time to visit Italy; you’ll avoid the summer crowds as the city warms up for spring! If you haven’t been to Italy you MUST make sure to see Florence at least once (I’ve been 3 times at this point, I promise it’s amazing).
Travel tips for Bologna, Italy
In Bologna, we stayed at an awesome Airbnb rental (click here to learn how to save money on hotels with Airbnb) in the center with a panoramic view of the city. We ate some great local food, checked out the famous towers, and saw all there is to see in this beautiful little city. Here are my quick tips for Bologna:
- One full day in Bologna was enough time for us; it would have been nice to stay for two nights but we were on a tight schedule!
- For great local food check out Osteria dell’Orsa (hip, local spot) and Trattoria Danio on Via San Felice (family owned, great prices)!
- Get your train tickets to Florence from Bologna ahead of time; we purchased tickets at the station that same day and only first class seats were left so we had to pay 50 euros each…
- This blog has some great recommendations on the things to do and see in Bologna; climbing the Torre Asinelli was my favorite activity from the list
- Take the airport bus (Aerobus) to the center; you can buy your ticket on the bus for 6 euros. The bus departs every 10 minutes or so and takes about 25 minutes to reach the center. The third bus stop is the city center and the fourth stop will be the train station (the Aerobus also departs from the train station for the airport).
Travel tips for Florence, Italy
Florence is my favorite city in Italy! It’s got great history, shopping and above all…food! We also found a stellar Airbnb rental here; it was only €50 a night and it’s smack dab in the center! I could make a long list of things for you to do in this city, but this blog post pretty much covers everything. My personal highlights from the list are shopping on Ponte Vecchio, walking to San Miniato al Monte, visiting the Uffizi Gallery and climbing Giotto’s Campanile.
- My main recommendation for Florence is to eat everything humanly possible…Italian cuisine never disappoints!
- You can find cool leather products in Florence, especially in the San Lorenzo market (it starts near the Church of San Lorenzo and runs along Via Ariento all the way to Via Nazionale); I always buy purses and leather bracelets for myself and friends from this market. Keep in mind haggling is completely normal (and expected) in the markets, and if you’re buying multiple items you should ask the vender to give you a deal. I’ll usually say something like, “If I buy 3 bracelets what price will you give me?”
- If you’re looking for jewelry head to Ponte Vecchio; you’ll find quality silver and gold products here. Don’t expect to barter in the shops; for items like silver and gold shopkeepers usually weigh the item to determine the price and they won’t budge on it!
- When you need to return to Bologna Airport take the train from Florence to Bologna and from there you can take the Aerobus or get a direct shuttle from Florence to Bologna Airport
Travel tips for Pisa, Italy
For some reason when I mentioned going to Pisa people told me it wasn’t worth a visit…but I couldn’t disagree more! We spent a wonderful afternoon in Pisa and it’s so close to Florence there’s no excuse not to go.
- The train is the easiest/fastest way to get to Pisa. Train tickets between Florence and Pisa cost about $10 – $15 each way and you can buy your ticket the same day you plan to make the trip. Trains usually go between Florence S.M.N. and Pisa Centrale twice an hour; check the train schedule for exact times
- Pisa is perfect for an afternoon, but I personally wouldn’t recommend spending a night there (spend as many nights as you can in Florence!)