Located in midst of the beautiful fields of the Emilia-Romagna region is it's underrated capital city, Bologna. Most of the people I know who have been there say that the city gives them that feeling of "yeah, it really does feel like those laid back traditional Italian towns". Even though the vast majority of tourists venture off to places such as Rome, Florence, Milan or Venice, they are most likely to go through Bologna train station, which ironically is one of the country's busiest ones. The tiny city is served with a lovely airport, named Guglielmo Marconi after the famous Italian inventor and electrical engineer known for his pioneering work on long-distance radio transmission.
The city is small enough to get around easily on foot, is full of culture, and offers what many people claim is the best food in Italy - the term Spaghetti Bolognese comes from the local dish. One of the first things you notice is that Bologna is red. By that I mean the red bricks that most of Bologna’s historic buildings and porticoes are made from. The best way to explore the city is on foot, taking time to admire the architecture and absorb the nice views, and the best views are without a doubt from the top of the Bologna Tower, which can only be assessed by foot via a narrow staircase consisting of 498 steps and is well worth it.
Situated slap bang in the middle of Bologna's historic city centre and within a comfortable minute's walk from the Two Towers and only 200 meters from the Pizza Maggore, the splendid Corona D'Oro 1890 is an oasis. From the outside it doesn't do justice to the grand splendour of its interior, which is actually inside a 14th century building.
The comfortable four-star hotel which promises a truly five-star experience and provides an excellent service. The Corona D’Oro, with 40 spacious yet ordinary rooms, is no exception to this rule. The hotel neatly blends the combination of an elegant mixture of different architectural styles - the gothic walls, renaissance ceilings, Art Nouveau hall, coats of arms on ceilings and the magnificent liberty of its entrance hall .
One of the added bonuses of the hotel is that the staff are courteous, kind, speak fluent English and are exceedingly helpful. For the adventurous, there is a free bike hire available for exploring this magcificant city of red roofs, tiny Fiat cars and friendly dogs and of course the remarkably delicious cuisine. Make full use of the complimentary Wi-Fi and if you wish the tiny business lounge with fax and printer. One thing you may want to bring with you would be an adapter plug as there is no guarantee that one would be available- plus there is a five Euro deposit charge if you want to borrow one.
A complimentary breakfast is served in the functional basement room- try some of the unique homemade cakes, breads and various jams and preserves including pistachio spread. There is no Club lounge, however there is a €10 evening happy hour service which includes a good selection of stuzzichini and various food and beverages. For dinner, there are numerous reasonably priced restaurants on the streets surrounding the hotel. We went to the nearby Ca' Pelletti on Via Altabella. For disabled guests, the hotel offers two rooms with disabled access and for those with babies, guests can request services such as babysitting from the staff.
This was my first time to the tiny and underrated Italian city of Bologna, and indeed my first time to indulge into it's local cuisine, namely the spaghetti bolognese. The city is the home of the famed dish, and there is no other better place to try it at than the Trattoria Leonida.
The eatery, which has been delighting diners since 1938, is located on one of the oldest streets in the centre of Bologna, near the magnificent Piazza Santo Stefano. Tucked away neatly in the narrow and quiet lanes behind the Two Towers of Bologna, a group of two medieval structures known as Garisenda and Asinelli, and that are the landmark of the city. As you are walking down the dimly lit lanes, which are paved with original medieval stones, you get the feeling that you are effectively stepping back in time.
While the eatery doesn't offer any magnificent views of Bologna’s red roofs and the hills beyond, the setting is rather romantic as it gives a glimpse into why every evening is fully booked among tourists and the locals.
Should you find yourself craving for an authentic Bolognese, rest assured that you are in the vicinity of culinary greatness. Starters that tickle your taste buds include finely oiled slices of salami and speck bacon and the chicken breast with balsamic vinegar. This should be accompanied with a glass of Veneto: try Amarone 2007 - Villabella. Even for the starters, each plate elicits a slow moan of ecstasy that makes you want more.
For the main course, except for the traditional bolognese which everyone wants to try, opt for something adventurous such as tagliatelle pasta with prosciutto ham and peas. If, however, you really want to have your mind and taste buds blown away, try the slightly heavier wild game specialities, such as local hare with polenta. The polenta balances out the heaviness of the meat. It is one of the most ravishing plates of food you will find anywhere, but the cosy and warm ambiance at Trattoria Leonida is too upbeat to stay staring at your dinner for long.
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