Travelling & Living in Bologna: Survival Tips


Are you an American interested in moving or travelling to Bologna? Do you already live in Bologna?

Curious about different methods of travel in Italy?

Trying to stay in your budget?

Looking for new ways to learn the language?

Need to add something to your resume?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, read on!

Whether you plan on moving to Bologna or already do, check out these 5 survival tips about the Red City!


Scenic view of Bologna from above (Courtesy of


1.     Tips for catching the train!

You can go with TrenItalia or ItaloTreno.

TrenItalia: One of Italy’s oldest public transport providers. It will take you to a variety of different cities within the region or across the country from Bologna Autostazione. They also offer the Frecciarossa, a more expensive ticket but a faster train!

ItaloTreno: Since 2010, Italy’s newest and fastest train service offering destinations to select major cities in the country. The company also provides fabulous customer service with a clean and friendly waiting area. Since the company is expanding, make sure to keep a lookout for new stops!

Which one is cheaper? More often than not, TrenItalia is the least expensive option. However, ItaloTreno is generally faster than TrenItalia, plus if you plan ahead enough, tickets can be cheaper than TrenItalia. For example, you can travel with Italo from Bologna to Florence in 30 minutes for around 11-20euros (depending on the time of day). Can’t beat that!

Lastly, with TrenItalia, you must stamp your ticket before boarding. With Italo, they stamp it for you while on the train.


Photo of Centro Storico (Courtesy of


2. Once in Bologna, you walk under the bellisimi portici (porticoes) or take the local transportation! 


Image of i portici in Bologna (Courtesy of Assocazione Bologna per le Arti)

Bologna’s TPER (Trasporto Passeggeri Emilia-Romagna) is one of Italy’s most efficient bus systems. It can take you almost anywhere you want to go in the city on a regulated and timely schedule 7 days out of the week. Tickets cost 1,30 euro at your local tabaccheria. Make sure to stamp it when you get on the bus. If you buy your ticket on the bus, it will cost 1,50 euro (if you do it this way, no need to stamp it!)

If you choose to purchase your ticket on the bus, just remember that the machine only accepts exact change! (I’ve lost many euro coins to that machine.) Beware that sometimes it does not work and you may need to get your ticket at the tabaccheria.

I cannot stress the importance of purchasing your ticket before you get on the bus! The bus checkers randomly come on board and regulate all tickets. If you do not have one, they will give you a heavy fine! (Even if you tell them you are not Italian, they most likely won’t take pity.)

There are a variety of different bus lines that will take you to the city center, where you can visit Via Independenza, Le Due Torri, Centro Storico, and Piazza Maggiore.


Photo of Piazza Maggiore (Courtesy of


3.     Hungry and want to stay on budget?

Check out the local supermarkets! Superstores such as Coop, Conad, along with other small ‘mom and pop stores’ sell a variety of food products for affordable prices. Make sure to check the hours prior to heading over. Some of them close for lunch (typically between 12:30pm and 4pm), Sundays, and holidays, whereas others do not.


Image of Fresh Tortellini (Courtesy of


4.     Looking for some of Bologna’s best?

Bologna is known as the culinary capital of Italy. Here is a brief list of some of the must-try dishes: tortellini al brodo, ragu, mortadella, prosciutto parmiggiano, aceto balsamico, and tenerina (a Bolognese style chocolate cake).

Check out these restaurants, all of different prices and all conveniently located in the city center!

Trattoria Annamaria- Voted the best tagliatelle in Bologna.

Il Rosso- Delicious typical Bolognese cuisine; great prices for students.

Il Mercato di Mezzo- Outdoor farmer’s market revived from medieval times; try various selection of Italian food, wines, pastries, etc.

Trattoria Baraldi- With desserts for 5 euros and pizzas from 5-9 euros, you can’t beat top quality and affordable prices!


Delicious Parmiggiano of Parma (Courtesy of


5.     Learn inside and outside the classroom!

There are plenty of language schools in Bologna, so it’s hard to pick just one. ARCA Italian School Bologna is internationally recognized as providing the best support and learning experience for students!

Make sure to also find ways to practice your Italian. Don’t stick to the routine of using it only in the classroom, with your friends, or ordering your next meal. You need to get outside of your comfort zone and do something new! As one of Italy’s most liberal cities, you can find plenty of volunteer associations to get involved with!

If you are in the city during September, make sure to check out Bologna’s annual volunteer festival!


(Courtesy of

Are you looking to get more work experience where you can practice your Italian language skills? Get an internship! Make sure to inquire at!

Check out Bologna Connect on Facebook and Twitter.

By Candice Whitney


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