“ Country: Italy / World Region: Europe „
Bologna isn't the automatic city of choice when holidaying in Italy, but it should be! The gastronomic capital of the country, which incidentally is also home to the oldest University in Europe, is a culinary and architectural delight. I travel here once a year for a book fair, but it is more like a holiday to me than a work trip. I will never forget my first campari with blood orange sitting on the steps of a cafe in the Piazza Maggiore and watching the sun set over the terracotta tiled roofs. Magical! Home of Spaghetti Bolognese, Bologna is a city of contrasts - beautiful buildings steeped in History, amazing shops selling all the latest haute couture Italy has to offer, delicatessens with a feast of colourful cheeses, hams, pastas and olive oils - not to mention Calderoni the 'Piano Bar' with it's magnificent array of cakes, pastries and all things chocolate. Bologna really is the ideal place to spend a long weekend soaking up the very best Italy has to offer.
I have just returned from my first ever holiday in Italy and it was everything I hoped it would be. Another op writer on here who had been to Lido di Jesolo and was bemoaning the fact that there was so much to do for families but not for couples is viewing the place from the exact opposite standpoint to me. I have 3 sons aged 20, 17 and 12 and there was plenty for them to do. Lignano is just a few miles up the coast from Jesolo but not quite so crowded. It only boasts 8kms of sandy beach instead of 15!. A few tips for visitors to this part of Italy. The beach umbrellas which you can hire for the day are priced according to where you sit. At Lignano for example, row 1 was 29k, row 2 was 24k, row 3 was 23k and row 4 was only 15k. The rows were only about 5 yards apart, so the folks in row one paid nearly ten pounds a day for their brolly and two sun loungers whereas us peasants three rows back got a brolly, one sun lounger and one deck chair for only a fiver. The other alternative is to buy your own brolly from a shop for about five quid, use it for the whole holiday and chuck it away at the end. My bank manager gave me a good tip before travelling. He suggested that I should take enough lira for my first few days and then use my Natwest switch card after that. On the back of the card there is a logo for Cirrus which is the overseas equivalent of Link. I had no trouble finding cashpoints which took my card. As soon as a UK card is inserted it asks you which of four languages you want your instructions in, the whole procedure was very easy. The only charge on my statement was a 2% handling charge, which is what you pay on travellers cheques, but you had the flexibility of only drawing out as much or as little as you wanted thus cutting down on any security risks. As we were staying in a caravan that was quite important. One word of warning to first time visitors. Italy shuts for four hours every day. Boy do they know how to siesta!
Between about 12.30 and 16.30 the only places you find open are bars and shops in big towns. Venice for example just seems to ignore the siesta completely but for everybody else it can be a bit of a hassle. I found eating out superb. Most places would do you pizza or pasta dishes for around three to four pounds and the sizes were usually huge. Beer worked out at just over two pounds for 0.4 of a litre and a quarter litre carafe of red wine was about one pound fifty. Soft drinks were a total rip-off considering how thirsty kids get in 80-90 degree heat and worked out at anything up to two or three quid for half a litre.
I've just returned from a weeks break in Lido De Jesolo, a beach resort on the adriatic coast of Italy, just 30 miles from Venice. The resort is huge. The beach stretches for 15km's and is crowded with rows upon rows of umbrellas and sun loungers. A bit too regimented for me but certainly a sight to behold. The beach itself is clean and the sea is shallow until quite a way out, which makes it ideal for kids. In fact the whole resort is ideal for kids. There is a huge amount for them to do, from funfairs and arcades to an aquapark. Unfortunately, that means that the resort is packed with family's and young children. Not what you want when your just a couple looking for a bit of peace and quiet. Also the resort, which is purpose built and so lacks Italian atmosphere, seems to be a big favourite with the Germans. As a consequence, almost every bar and restaurant, is decorated in almost a Beer Keller style. Not great if your expecting romantic Italian trattorias. However, like everywhere else in Italy, it's extreamly cheap to eat, with main courses costing only about £4 for pizza, spagetti etc. It's the drinks that add on the big cost. Expect to pay at least £3 for half a litre of beer. There is a lot going for this resort if it's what you're looking for. i.e. Cheap to get there (we paid £78 return from Stanstead with GO), great for kids, proximity to Venice (an hour by boat with regular trips run), cheap food etc. but compared to somewhere like Sorrento, it doesn't even come close. If you're looking for Italy go to the Amalfi coast, if you're looking for sun, sea and beer and are fed up with Spain, come here.