We enjoyed our stroll around Bologna. It seemed like a proper working city going about its business. I did get approached by a street seller offering me a book of African poetry translated into Italian but he seemed happy enough when I gave him some coins. We stopped for a coffee soon after and I saw him hasten past us jingling the coins in his pocket. Maybe he was off to have a coffee too. What I mean is one wasn't overwhelmed by hawkers and beggars and gangs of gyspsies and umbrella sellers. I suppose because one couldn't see people who were obviously tourists.
Anyway, we must have relaxed, and on our way back to the station down the main drag, I got a little behind Matthew.
Then he stopped. I looked up and he was surrounded by two gypsy woman, one with a baby, and a little boy. They were obviously targeting him.
I gave him a good push in the back, gave them the evil eye look, and shouted - Move on. Don't stop.
He had stopped to give them a few coins out of his pocket and one of them had grabbed his hand.
Then a few minutes later he said - They did get something.
My heart stopped cold. We had to fly out of Rome the next day. Had they got his passport? What had they got?
Well luckily they had just got the coins out of his pocket - which he had kindly shown them were there by taking a few out.
She wasn't grabbing your hand because she liked you! - I said.
We felt a bit ... thing ... so close to the station we saw a seedy cafe and sat down and ordered a coffee apiece.
Second rip off. Over 6 euro for 2 coffees.
And we had stopped up the road at a really nice cafe and got 2 coffees and water for 4 euro.
We were starting to be a bit off Bologna.
Then Matt needed to use the WC at the station - 70 cents another rip off - but as he approached the turnstile a gent coming out held the gate back and waved Matt through for free with a big smile and cheerful Bolognese greetings.
So we started to like Bologna again.
Bologna is a very beautiful city, but it may be dangerous if you are travelling alone, expecially if you are a woman. My girl friends living and studying in Bologna never go out alone at night, they always move in a group of three or four of them. Even if you are in downtown there might be dangerous men staring at you. Don't go to Giardini Margherita alone when it is dark, many girls have been raped, also foreign tourists. So pay attention.
During the day, no problem, but beware of bag-snatcher, expecially in the University area.
Save yourself from embarassment when ordering the city's well-loved import, spaghetti bolognese. Never, ever, under any circumstances order "spaghetti bolognese" thinking it might flatter the waiter to ascribe this world-famous sauce to their city. No! You are promptly (and sometimes sternly, but with a wink) corrected, with the right magic word, ragu.
Via Zamboni is the main street of the University area. During the day it's a young corner of Bologna, full of students and tourists but at night it changes into a bad area because of the marijuana sellers!!!
It's not a good idea to walk alone there.
I had very unpleasant encounter with an Gipsy woman, probably Rumanian, who was begging in the vicinity of the Two Towers. While holding baby in one arm she start pulling my sleeve with anoter demanding to give her some money. I kept walking but she continued pulling me very strongly. Since I held camera in one hand I could use only the other one to push her away and then, all the sudden, her other hand was in my side pocket trying to take my purse. I was just quick enough to grab her hand and pushed her strongly away from me.
The point is, her baby was somhow attached to her body and he used that baby in order to keep my attention away from that hand. To tell you the truth, she was very skillfull and had very quick and strong hands. I was lucky coz, being sportsman my hands are still very quick and strong too.
Never trust beggars who hold babies in their arm.
Although Bologna’s parking regulations may not be immediately evident, don’t be lulled into thinking you can park anywhere. The unfortunate owner of this scooter transgressed by parking outside the lines of the parking zone and was in for a surprise when he found it gone upon return.
Perhaps because it was my only Italian train experience, I had not previously encountered the problem of having to go without having exact change. The Bologna Stazione requires .70 Euro before the gates will open to admit one to what passes for paradise when you really need the w.c. (I had totally forgotten that US airports and train stations used to require you to deposit a dime at the toilet door -- I wonder when that stopped?) Luckily, my friend had a few extra .20 and we were both able to handle our business, but after that adventure, I made sure I had the correct denominations at the ready. This ultimately proved to be helpful with the luggage carts at Fiumicino, too!
The Bologna-supporters are normally very peaceful, but sometimes some parts of the crowd might be looking for some incidents. In the beginning of 04/05 there were a group of Bologna-supporters who started a fight on an awaygame in Livorno, but in 99 per cent of the games there are no risk for fights.
As always in Italy, if you aren’t used to stay in the home-curva, you shouldn’t go there. It’s always hard to know where to stay and not to stay, but if you really have to go there, make sure you stay at one of the flanks, as far away from the center as possible.
Please be carefull in the zone near the station at night. In most cities the areas near train stations are more problematic.
Try to avoid the Parco della Montagnola, which is on the left when leaving the station. I was in the park during day time and it had some 'heavy' individuals around.
In all the world Bologna is knows like the "Porticoes Town"
The portici are covered sidewalks who protect strollers from both inclement weather ...In Bologna there are more than 40 km of porticoes and here there are also the most longer in the world, the San Luca Porticoes.
It really great, but walking i saw that the most they have the paving ruined and the presence of holes that can provoke falls and unpleasant unforeseen.
I saw a woman just in front of me who fall down...ahi ahi!!...
There is at least one Roma woman with a baby in her arms who approaches tourists, apparently begging for her child. She is a thief and a pickpocket, and hangs out around the twin towers and via Zamboni.
She approaches tourists , will not take no for an answer, and tries to get very close to you - to show the baby - when she is trying to steal from your pocket. Unfortunately for her, I never keep any valuables there.
Avoid her if you see her, and if she does approach, do not stop, and keep you hand firmly on any valuables. Call for the police if you can.
The university is around the Via Zamboni - so it's noisy and lively and looks chaotic - and I think there is a church mission for drunks so you see more of them. But there seems to always be largish police presence at the side of the opera house. We passed lots of crowds at different times two or three times a day for a week, and saw no problems. The noise and the crowds make it look dangerous but I doubt if it is.
I really discourage everybody from sleeping or staying in one of the following small towns near Bologna: Casalecchio di Reno; Sasso Marconi; Zola Predosa; Bazzano; Crespellano; Monteveglio, Savigno; Monte S. Pietro. The reason is that the local authorities have recently adopted a system of waste management which is absolutely crazy. The organic waste is picked up only twice a week; plastic, paper, other is picked up only once a week (through sacks). Before the dedicated day, all the waste must be kept inside private houses. No more waste containers in the streets. It's really, really crazy living!!
As I have seen in Italy (Bologna and Florence) it is not very popular to build huge buildings for the railway stations. The attendance room at Bologna Centrale was very small and overcrowded, so I had to wait my train outside, with temperatures around minus 1-2 in February. Unfortunately the train came 2.5 hours later and it was not very pleasant to stay outside. So my advice is: don't rely that you could stay at the railway station if it is extremely cold or hot- there will not be any place in the building, and you will stay outside.
You must be extra careful about the traffic here. There are even long traffic jams so if u decide to go somewhere so u should always keep margain of being late. The traffic in this city is crazy and worst than any other city's traffic.