Bologna – Dolly Travels

Author: , October 25th, 2019


Good morning, well, buongiorno from Firenze, as it is really early afternoon.

Yes!! Now I am truly back in my second home. However, Susan and I had a delightful 2 days in Bologna. Since we arrived there on Sunday, so many points of interest were closed. We did not want to visit museums, anyway. Bologna is a lovely place to walk.

Most of the streets in Bologna are covered with the arched colonnades (or loggia or arcades: take your pick of the descriptive words). Although we had sunny days, the roofs kept the sun off, but they are also very nice when it rains.

There are many ancient Roman ruins in Bologna. Frank Garcia would be disappointed in me. I did not delve into the history of Romans in Bologna, but those Romans went far afield. I promise, I will look more into this when I am back home again. Sorry, Frank.

Bologna is a food-lover’s city. There are very good restaurants everywhere. Of course, nearby are the fantastic prosciutto farms, the Parmigiana factories and the home of balsamico. Those food are prominent on the menus. Apparently, tortellini are also a prime product of Bologna, as we saw tortellini or tortelli (larger filled pasta) on every menu. All were delicious. It was difficult to choose. I wanted to take a cooking class, but the one I found, the instructor showed how to make the tortellini, but I wanted a hands-on class. I shall have to experiment back home.

Of course, when I came to Mortadella, I had to stop. Look at all the proscuitti and cheeses hanging from the ceiling. On another shelf were bottles and bottles of balsamico, anywhere from recent to over 25 years in age. And the local pastries looked so yummy. People were getting sandwiches that looked so good, too, I finally had to drag myself out of the store. Actually, I think it was Susan who dragged me out, or I might still be there.

Imagine our surprise at walking across a canal. It looked so much like Venice. Just another lovely sight on our walks.

Now we are in Florence, for a couple days. We are staying up near Santa Maria Novella for these 2 days, as it is only a few minutes walk from the train station. It is a nice little neighborhood with cafes, restaurants, hairdressers, grocery stores and pharmacies all within a few blocks.

But you know, I had to go back to our neighborhood, the place I really call home. Susan and I walked down to the Duomo area last night. We walked past Santa Maria Novella church. It is so pretty, with the flowers around the grassy areas.

We walked to the OK Bar. Well, now it is l”OK Osteria. We sat outside and had Aperol Spritzes. I was so pleased to be greeted by the bartender, Massimo and the waiter, Fabrio. They are both long-time friends from my frequent visits to the OK Bar over the past many years.

We walked some more last night, finding our dinner at another favorite restaurant, Il Porscopino (the Porcupine) near San Lorenzo church.

It is good to be back in Florence, my favorite city in all of Italy. Tomorrow, we will go to Cinque Terre for 3 nights, then return to Florence for 10 days.

I have enjoyed every place that we have visited. Susan got to see the historical sights in Padova, but I was content with seeing the city. On this trip, since I have seen the museums before, and I appreciate their greatness, I am more interested in seeing the towns and cities as a local would see them. I love the parks, the little shops, the tiny restaurants with only a few tables, but are packed every night with locals.

In case you have not know this before:


Stayed tuned for posts from Cinque Terre.
Ciao for now,

Full Story at Dolly Travels

Bologna Gay Travel Resources


A Day in Bologna – Keep Calm and Wander

Author: , February 18th, 2018

Bologna - Keep Calm and Wander

I was in Bologna for two full days and nights. However, I only spent a day in Bologna because I spent the second day in Ravenna, a small city which is an hour and 15 minutes by train. Ravenna is a city known for its amazing mosaics, history and architecture. It’s also the final resting place of Dante, a great Italian poet, who wrote Divina Comedia (Divine Comedy).

A Day Trip. Bologna can be reached by 35 minutes by train from Florence. It’s 2 hours from Venice and an hour and a half from Verona.

Let’s just say you arrive at Bologna Centrale at 8 AM. From here, follow the scent of freshly baked brioche and coffee coming from Bar Della Stazione, a little coffee shop that provide pastry, drink and juice to all the people that are running for work. Get a creamy espresso with a full flavor of the best Italian coffee! This will wake you up from the long trip. And don’t forget to bring a bottle of water before you go to your next destination.

By Alain – Full Story at Keep Calm and Wander

Bologna Gay Travel Resources

Italy’s Other Leaning Tower – Keep Calm and Wander

Author: , February 15th, 2018

Leaning Tower

This leaning tower of Bologna leans more than the leaning tower of Pisa. The former leans 4 degrees and the latter at 3.97 degrees. Yep, it’s just a tiny difference, really, right? However, the fame of the leaning tower of Bologna is eclipsed by the leaning tower of Pisa. Maybe, it’s because the Bologna tower doesn’t really possess the architectural beauty that we are used to seeing, compared to that of the tower in Pisa.

Architectural styles. The leaning tower of Bologna is medieval while the leaning of Pisa is Romanesque.

Which one is taller? Bologna’s tower is 97.20 meters high while Pisa’s is 58.36 meters.

By Alain – Full Story at Keep Calm and Wander

Bologna Gay Travel Resources

Bologna From the Top – Keep Calm and Wander

Author: , November 8th, 2017

Bologna - Keep Calm and Wander

Bologna is a city that still looks medieval from the streets to the rooftops. And thank goodness, it’s one of the off-beaten paths that tourists skip when visiting Italy. I’m glad I did stop here for two nights without expecting much on what to do and see. After two weeks of backpacking in Italy, I decided to slow down in Bologna. The city is pretty relaxed and there weren’t many tourists when I was there. The main square was a bit crowded but few steps from it, you’ll find a nice place to sit on for a drink or two.

Bologna is the capital city of Emilia-Romagna region in northern Italy. I didn’t know much about Bologna until I came here. In fact, the only clear knowledge I had for the city is its pasta bolognese – which I was pretty sure originated from here. And, of course, I gobbled down on it with much gusto. It tasted good with any kind of wine. Yes, I had three different wines before, during and after the meal.

By Alain – Full Story at Keep Calm and Wander

Emilia Romagna Gay Travel Resources

Best Gay Friendly Destinations in Italy

Author: , December 10th, 2015

Colosseum - Rome, Italy

Thanks to the open-minded attitude of some important cities like Florence, Milan or Bologna, Italy has always been also one of the main destinations for LGBT tourism.

If you are looking for some gay friendly destinations in Italy, here is some advice.

Milan and Bologna

If you want to spend your holidays in the north of Italy, Milan might be the best choice: well known for its historical monuments, above all its Cathedral, the Duomo, it is famous also for its vitality and for the innumerable chances that it offers to have fun and to enjoy the city.

What’s more, it is very open to any sexual orientation and you will find a lot of LGBT friendly clubs and bars (especially all around Porta Venezia district). For this reason, you should subscribe the Arcigay Card; for just 15 euros, you will be able to take part to many different activities, as well as to enjoy gay parties, afterhours, restaurants and cruises.

The card can be used even in Bologna, another of the most open-minded and tolerant city of Italy, because it has been governed by the left party since the Second World War, and also thanks to the university campus.

Here you can find the very well-known gay and lesbian centre, called Cassero, built in a medieval spot of the city, which is also the headquarters of the Arcigay organisation.

Tuscany, Florence and Rome

Moving to the center of Italy, we find the Tuscany region, famous for its atmosphere of freedom since the time of Renaissance: here it is strictly forbidden to discriminate against anyone based on sexual orientation.

Florence offers you any kind of amusement: cinema, shopping and restaurants.
For example, every Tuesday the Azione Gay e Lesbica organisation proposes iCiacklinei: every week a different movie with a gay theme.

But if you are more interested on how to enjoy the weekend, you will find many LGBT friendly pubs and discos all around Piazza Santa Croce, where you will dance until dawn.

Beyond Florence, you’ll also find the gay life in Versilia, especially in the summer.

Finally, moving to the South, the most well-known gay friendly destination surely is Rome.

Maybe you wouldn’t expect to find many gay areas in this conservative and catholic city, but in spite of this, gay life is present and important.

Who doesn’t know about the annual Gay Village? An open-air summer festival well-know all over Europe, as well as the always crowded Via San Giovanni in Laterano, today called Rome’s Gay Street, where you can enjoy the weekend in summer nights.

Don’t forget that even in Rome, the Arcigay Card is accepted in many bars, pubs, restaurants and saunas,

Italian cities can be today compared to Sitges, Mikonos or Ibiza for  LGBT friendly tourism, so donit miss the chance to visit Italy for your next gay holiday.

Note: This is a sponsored article, although we have taken no compensation for it.

Attend Gelato University in Bologna

Author: , October 12th, 2014

GelatoThe mention of Bologna and food typically conjures images of spaghetti – Spaghetti Bolognese to be precise. A family favorite since the 1970s, and a staple of today’s student diet, it’s an adopted favorite of us Brits. But what about Spaghetti Bolognese in Bologna itself?

That’s something different.

There is no shortage of tratorrias serving up all manner of pasta treats in the city. Dishing up some of the best food from the region, it’s difficult to go wrong when dining out in Bologna. But Bologna also has a foodie secret.

A short bus or a 20-minute taxi ride from the city center takes you to an industrial estate where you’ll find ice cream heaven. Correction – we’re in Italy so it’s gelato heaven. Ice cream is a dirty term to the Italians. It’s ‘factory made’ and ‘heavy in fat’ compared to this artisan treat.

By Clark Turner – Full Story at Gay Star News | Emilia Romagna Gay Travel Resources

An Italian Food Tour in Bologna

Author: , June 17th, 2013

Our dear friend, Bella (Dolly Goolsby) is on the go again, this time in Italy. She has graciously allowed us to republish her travel blogs. Enjoy!

Parmegiano Cheese - DollyStill trying to catch up with all I want to tell you about.

My friend and I left Zurich on Thursday, and finally made it back to Italy. This time our stop was in Bologna. I had never been to Bologna before. To spend any time, so this was another new city to visit. I was disappointed that Rick Steve’s doesn’t cover Bologna in his guide books, as we found it to be a delightful city. There are museums, old towers, churches, beautiful parks, a university. We really enjoyed our stay there.

I had chosen Bologna for our stay, as I had read about a food tasting tour that sounded great to me, so we had made reservations for this tour for Friday.

As expected, Alessandro, our guide for the day, had his driver pick us up at 0700 on Friday, as our first stop was to be at a factory that makes Parmigiano – Reggiano cheese. Cheese making takes place early in the morning, so we had to be early to see this. Of course, we got a tour of the small factory, got to see the cheeses being made and lifted out of their huge cooking vats.

Then we saw each process of the product, from being lifted out of the vats, to being placed in molds; several days later being processed in a salt water bath, finally being placed onto shelves to finish aging. This cheese now has to age at least a year. The cheeses are turned every ten days, and the outside of the cheeses are brushed to remove any oil or fat that has oozed out during the curing stage.

Each step of the process is highly regulated, or the cheese cannot be stamped and approved by the Consortium and give the D.O.P. approval. This regulation starts with the cows that produce the milk for the cheese. The Consortium says what kind of feed must be given to the cattle, and the cows cannot be given any antibiotics.

We got to taste some cheese, with focaccia bread and some very good Lambrusco wine… don’t scoff, now. Lambrusco does not have a very good reputation in the United States, but here where the Lambrusco grapes grow, and are made into a sparkling red wine, it is delicious.

Then we were off to another small factory in Modena. This one make balsamic vinegar. This was other very interesting lesson, followed by a tasting. Balsamico has to age at least 12 years to be certified, again by a Consortium.

The process starts with the producers crushing Lambrusco and Trebbiano grapes, then letting it ferment and age in wooden barrels. Some of the balsamico we tasted was 35 years old, thick as molasses and ever so good…..also, ever so expensive. For our tasting, we had fresh ricotta with balsamico on it, also vanilla gelato with balsamico.

Then we were on to the next stop, this time a prosciutto factory. Once again, prosciutto is also regulated by a consortium so that it can be labeled Prosciutto of Modena, D.O.P. the Consortium regulates how the pigs are fed and raised, and each step of the aging process. This little factory that we visited has been in the same family for seven generations, now being run by a fine little lady, about 70 years old.

The hind legs of the pigs are brought here, weighed, then covered with sea salt and put into cold storage for 10 days. They are then brought out, the salt is all wiped away, and new salt is applied. Back into another cold storage for another 10 days. This time the salt is wiped away, and the legs are hung in an area that is cool, but not refrigerated. The legs then go through the aging process. They are aged at least one year.

Finally, we went to lunch..we had already had tastings at all the factories. But it was after 1:00 p.m., so we went to an organic farm and winery for lunch. OMG!

This lunch went on and on…first, a salad of fresh butter lettuce, apples and almonds, then a pasta, then another pasta, and another. And the wine flowed freely, too. By this time, I was so full I cold hardly move, and out comes a main dish of chicken and roasted vegetables. This was followed by dessert, which, fortunately, was 3 different platters of all kinds of fruits. The berries were my favorite. As full as I was, I just had to eat some of these.

Eventually, we made it back to our hotel, where I fell into a food-wine-induced stupor. About 2 hours later, we got up, and cleaned up, ventured out of the hotel, but neither of us wanted any food or drink. We wanted to go up to the park, where there was to be a jazz session that evening.

We had met a very nice couple from Edinburgh, Scotland, Desmond (Dez) and his wife, Bridget, on the food tour. They were staying near where we were staying, so we met up again that evening in Bologna to listen to jazz in the park.

That day was so fantastic. If you get a chance to be anywhere near Bologna, I encourage you to check this out – This is a small operation, run by Alessandro and his German girlfriend, Barbara. Alessandro really knows his stuff, and he has a fantastic sense of humor.

I am so glad we did that, although I really didn’t feel like eating again till about lunch time the following day!

Want to Follow Bella’s Latest Adventure Directly? Check Out Dolly Travels

Gay Friendly Italy Bed and Breakfasts, Hotels, and Vacation Rentals

La Trattoria di Rosso

Author: , May 6th, 2012

We had lunch with our old and new Italian friends at a great little restaurant called La Trattoria di Rossa, in the heart of historic Bologna – four gay couples relaxing together after a morning of exploring the city.

CrescetineLa Trattoria di Rosso is really cute, with outdoor seating on the street under a cool canopy, and a couple of dining rooms and a bar inside.

We were seated at a long table in the back, below a couple windows letting in a cool breeze form the courtyard behind the restaurant.

We started off with some appetizers – a selection of Italian meats and some fantastic little fried breads – called crescetine (at left) – that were absolutely delicious. The closest I can come up with in the US are the indian fry breads that are popular at many county fairs – light and tasty.

Served with these was a soft cheese – a cross between the flavors of mozzarella and cottage cheese – that we spread on the crescetine.

Following the appetizers, most of the table enjoyed a delicious dish of gnocchi – potato dumplings – served with a pesto sauce. Gnocchi is one of my favorite dishes, and these were really good.

The lunch was part of a fixed-price menu – an entree, a salad, and dessert – all for just 10 Euro.

Zuppa Inglese

The salad (served after the main course, as is the tradition here) was another favorite – a Caprese salad, with mozzarella, tomatoes, olive oil and a little lettuce, also really good.

We finished with a “zuppa inglese” (at right) – which despite the name was neither a soup or English. Instead, it was a desert of ladyfingers filled with a delicious creme, soaked in some kind of spirits – apparently, zuppa also means “soaked” in addition to “soup”.

The whole meal was fantastic, and you can’t beat the price. if you’re in Bologna, check out La Trattoria di Rosso for lunch or dinner.

You can visit their website here:

Exploring Bologna

Author: , May 5th, 2012

Bologna, Italy

We survived the jetlag.

After getting in to Bologna a little after 2 PM (5 AM at home), our friend Marco arrived and brought us to his home, a beautiful modern apartment on the top floor of his building. We’re staying in the cute little Italian town of Forlì, about halfway between Bologna and Ravenna in the province of Emilia Romagna, maybe two hours east of Florence on the Adriatic side of Italy.

On the advice of our friends, Mrco and Fabry, we stayed up until 9 PM the first night, enjoying a wonderful dinner (tortellini in broth) with them. But by 9 PM I was fading fast. Heading off to bed at last, we slept all night, from 9:30 PM until 8 the next morning, and woke, if not exactly refreshed, at least able to function.

Our destination for the day was the city of Bologna, where we had arrived at the airport the day before. Marco and Fabry arranged to have four of their friends, two other gay couples, meet us in the city for a day of walking and sightseeing.

Canal in BolognaWe started the day in Piazza 20 Settembere, where we met Alex and Loris, and Luca and Marco. After exchanging Italian hugs and kisses, we made our way into the city’s centro storico – the historic center.

Bologna has a large historic center – with miles and miles of beautiful covered walkways. Like many Italian cities, there’s a surprise around every corner.

The first of these surprises was one of the underground canals that runs through the city (at left). At one end of Piazza 20 Settembere, you can see the canal and a beautiful set of ruins. At one time, Bologna, like Venice, was built around canals, but most of these are now buried beneath the city.

We noticed that Bologna also seems to have a large gay community – there were gay guys, lesbians, and couples everywhere. Bologna is a university town, and Luca and Marco told us that many kids from the south come here for school – they called Bologna the San Francisco of Italy, where people feel free to be who they really are, although there was some disagreement on that title among the group. 🙂

Piazza Maggiore, BolognaFrom Piazza 20 Settembre, we walked over to Via di Indipendenza, past another beautiful ruin, and down the street to the Piazza Maggiore, the largest plaza in the historic center of Bologna.

Along one edge of this historic plaza sits the cathedral of San Petronio. Originally this church was to be built in the shape of a cross, and it would have been even larger than St. Peter’s in Rome, but the church at the time ran out of money, and instead the church has only the one long hall, without the side wings.

Here, also, you’ll find Il Comune del Bologna, with a public library, city offices, and a wide, open internal courtyard with glass tiles where you can look down at some of the ruins that lie beneath the current city. Bologna runs deep!

Apple Store, BolognaWe also found one of our own churches – the church of the Apple Store! We try to make the pilgrimage here wherever we go – it was like seeing an old friend here in Italy.

There was also live music in the Piazza – a trio of musicians – strangely, when we walked by, they were playing the victory theme from the original Star Wars movie – you know, where Luke, Chewbacca and Han Solo get the medals at the end? Che pazzo paese – what a strange (and wonderful) country.

We enjoyed lunch with our old and new friends at Il trattoria del Rosso – we’ll do a separate review of this great little restaurant – suffice it to say the food was really good and the hosts very friendly.

Towers in BolognaAfter lunch, we walked down to the two towers – i Torri degli Asinelli e della Garisenda – did you know Bologna has its own leaning tower? This one has been stabilized, but at one time part of the top of the tower fell to the street. You can climb to the top if you want – it costs about 40 Euros, and the passage is really narrow and over 300 steps high. We decided to take in the view from the ground level.

House in BolognaAlong the way, we also passed one of the oldest homes in Italy, built in medieval times – and still standing. The home is supported by impossibly long, thin wooden beams and two brick columns… it seems to hang there, suspended in the sky above you. The original family still lives on the premesis, but there are now stores below and some beautiful courtyards.

We ran across this sign on the way as well. A little background – there’s a son of a local politician who is accused of having bought a degree at a university abroad, and it’s ballooned into a huge scandal here over how that party has spend political funds.

Apparently they have a slogan that they are “hard” for Italy, and so the slang here says that we’re now paying for the party to have a hard… well, you get the idea. “Soldi anche al’ucello di Bossi” translates as “money also for the cock of Bossi” (the politician) – ucello has two meanings in Italian – one is “bird”, and the other is, well, cock.

As we said, crazy-wonderful country.

Bologna ChurchWe also visited a beautiful 11th century church – now the Museum of St. Stephen – the church itself is really old, especially by American standards, but it’s built atop an even older church, which you can still visit – it’s now a quiet chapel for prayer. While photos were not allowed in part of the church, we were able to take a few in other parts, including the chapel.

If you have a day or two to spend, Bologna is a great place to visit – the historic center is huge. Parking is tight, so take the train in, or if you have to drive, give yourself plenty of time to find parking. The parking spaces use a system similar to the one we have in Sacramento – park, and find the kiosk where you pay for the parking for the day.

Then you can just wander the streets of this fascinating city (but bring a good map)!