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Bologna or Florence?

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  • Bologna or Florence?

    My wife & I (50s) have 5 days to spend in Italy before flying to Amsterdam. Any suggestions on whether to base in Bologna, Florence, or pack up after each day and drive from one town to the next?

    We're probably interested in scenery and strolling more than museums. Suggestions?

  • #2
    Re: Bologna or Florence?

    I have never been to Bologna, so I can't give you advice either way on that city. However, I did spend some time in Florence, and it's a wonderful city in itself and a great base for exploring the surrounding towns of Tuscany (like Lucca, Siena, San Gimignano, Cortona, Pisa -- though that last one is a bit overrated in my humble opinion). You can get to most, if not all, of those places by train if you'd rather not rent a car.

    Florence has a bunch of great museums, but I actually liked the churches even better; they're a great place to check out the Renaissance artwork the city is known for without having to spend as much time as you would in a museum -- might be a good option for you guys if you don't want to do the museum thing. It's a very walkable city as well.

    I actually wrote a trip report about my time in the Florence area, which you can read here if you're interested: Spring Break in Italy. I'd be happy to answer any questions you might have.

    Hope this helps a bit! Please let us know what you decide to do.
    "I haven't been everywhere yet, but it's on my list." -- Susan Sontag


    • #3
      Re: Bologna or Florence?

      I agree with the comments about Florence. My personal favorite church there is Santa Croce--not as imposing as the Duomo or some of the others but seeing who is buried there just blew me away. What was in the water in this relatively small city to produce this group of brilliant artists? It is a picturesque city aside from the museums, but I would hate to go to Florence and not see Michaelangelo's David. There are replicas all over the city but the real thing is awe-inspiring. From Florence you can get to almost any location in Tuscany and even some farther away in a reasonable amount of time on the train. All of Bologna that I have seen is out the train window, but it, too, is not that far from Florence by train. Bologna, of course, is an old university town and the food is reputed to be extraordinarily good. However, I don't believe there is bad food in Italy.


      • #4
        Re: Bologna or Florence?

        Last fall I spent time in both Bologna and Florence, and I have to opt for Florence though I thought Bologna was great--and the food IS really good.
        Forence has so much more and as mentioned in previous posts so many places to connect to.
        Train travel is easy in Italy--it's the only way I travel outside of an occasional bus so you can certainly get to the towns mentioned. Or if you are interested in bus tours, you can go on a very good one to a combination of Siena and San Gimignano. I recommend this one because the local guide in Siena will make sure you see the main sights/sites, and you will see beautiful country side without having to watch the road yourself. This trip can be arranged by your hotel. You can read a description of it on the following site by clicking on the link on the left.
        I might also add that the half-day Chianti trip described is very good. As I said your hotel can arrange this for you, and very possibly more cheaply than this site, which may charge a fee. I'm not positive about that.
        A day trip to Bologna is certainly possible. There are excellent connections with Florence.
        Please let me know if you have any questions. I can certainly try to answer them.
        Host Ciao