I can’t think of a better way to feel part of a city, than to reclaim the streets as part of a Bolonga bike hire tour, wearing a santa hat, stopping at some of Bologna’s best Osterias, bars you would never find without a local. Travelling with a friend, instead of my family was a whole new experience and left me feeling refreshed and focussed for the festive season.
I’ve never felt as quickly immersed and relaxed in a new city as I did in Bologna before Christmas. Smartly dressed and super organised Gicaomo picked us up from the airport, gave us a friendly handshake, lots of smiles and drove us to our hotel – if you are arriving and need a car, call Giacomo. The welcome at family run Hotel Touring was so warm, it felt like being part of a family, they’d even sorted out Bologna bike hire for us!
When I asked for suggestions on things to do, Matteo at the hotel came up with Bikes in Bo, who took us on a bike tour of Bologna’s bars.
I cycle most weeks, but my travel companion was a little unsure, it had been a while since she had ridden a bike. Bike in Bo’s Honululu bikes are strong and sturdy, with big wheels to cope with cobbles, they make for a very smooth ride. Plus we had several guides in high vis jackets to keep us on the straight and narrow.
Valentina from Bike in Bo kindly waited for us when we got lost finding the meet up point, she was such a star. Diego (below) greeted us at the first bar and made sure we got a drink and the last of the snacks. It was like being welcomed into a group of friends for the night. This bar was hidden down a cobbled street, I don’t think we would have found such a cool place on our own.
This is my friend A who came with me on the trip. Can’t believe it is 20 years since we bumped into each other in the student bar at Hull Uni.
The rest of the group were so friendly, everyone was in high spirits with Christmas round the corner. Any fears A had, and any confusion I had about which side of the road to ride on, soon passed, It felt a lot like reclaim the streets as we sailed along in a pack, bells ringing and calling out Buona Natale! Happy Christmas!
Our next stop brought more lovely snacks in another local bar, this time in a large square. Cheese, meats, olives, tomatoes. Simple foods, but my goodness there is nothing simple about Bolognese food – it’s a foodie paradise. I couldn’t help thinking in Britain I would probably be eating crisps or dry roast peanuts. It’s normal to eat while you drink in Italy, and eat decently.
Then it was onwards again.
Our next stop was all about the seafood. I’m veggie so A dived into the Octupus, but Bike In Bo had kindly managed to organise a veggie option for me, cous cous with seaweed (I think) and courgette – it was incredible. While we ate we chatted to a poet, also on the tour. It was a lovely way to meet interesting people.
Our final stop was a bar under one of Bologna’s many porticoes, we were ready for some more substantial dishes after our cycling. Along the bar there was a collection of gorgeous tapas dishes, many of which were veggie. Such a civilised way to eat.
Bike in Bo suggested we keep hold of the bikes, as they rent them out by day, and use them to explore Bologna in daylight too. So we made our way back to Hotel Touring, with Georgia from the hotel’s directions from earlier firmly in place…
‘Turn right at Gucci!’ called A.
‘I think you’ve got a taste for this now haven’t you?’ I laughed.
Hotel Toruing is tucked down a peaceful little side street, but it is only 5 minutes walk to shops (like Gucci) and 10 minutes to the centre. It’s a great base for exploring the city. Next week I will show you the roof terrace too, it’s out of this world.
Bologna is a really compact city, but if you want to make the most of it in a short time frame, and really get off the beaten track and find some hidden gems, then check out Bike in Bo for Bologna bike hire.
Need to know
Giacomo from Auto Blu Columbo would be my recommendation for your airport transfer.
We were guests of Hotel Touring, mention Penny Alexander Blog for a 15% discount. Take a tour of the hotel, including the amazing rood terrace here.
Find out more about our meal at Osteria De’Poeti, where Brad and Angelina, amongst others have eaten.
Join us on a food tour with Italian Days.
Get an overview of the whole trip or see Bologna at Christmas, on Space in Your Case