Archives for April 2016

You Could Always Go to Bologna, Italy

When we dream of going to Italy (and we all dream of going to Italy at some point), we don’t typically spend much too much time thinking about Bologna. Naah, it’s usually the ‘big three’ of Rome, Venice, and Florence that tend to star in our Italian fantasy films, with places like Cinque Terre , Lake Como, Verona, and wherever that place was that Diane Lane lived in ‘Under The Tuscan Sun’ playing supporting roles.

Nope, Bologna typically gets passed over on most Italian itineraries, but you could always still go there. Why? Well, after spending a little time there while back, I’ve come up with a few reasons.

bologna italy

The Food, the Food, and, Oh Yeah, the Food

Alright, let’s get the obvious out of the way, first. Yes, the questionable meat-like substance that you find at your local supermarket’s deli section called bologna (but pronounced balon-ey by most of us of course) is inspired by Bologna’s famed mortadella. In Bologna though, you’ll find delicatessens fresh-shaving and cubing the real thing and bars serving it as an hors d’oeuvre at happy hour, and your taste buds will be thrilled to find a snack that is more fit for an extravagant feast than the lunch meat aisle.

This, my hungry friends is just the tip of the iceberg. Rich egg pastas like tagliatelle and tortellini are both Bolognese specialties, and the tagliatelle here is typically served with another specialty of Bologna: Bolognese sauce, or if you prefer, ragu or ‘spaghetti sauce’. Yes, the rich red sauce of minced beef and stewed tomatoes started right here in Bologna, Italy, and you will find a fantastic version on nearly every restaurant’s menu, never served with spaghetti though, as the people of Bologna prefer an egg noodle to spaghetti’s ‘wheaty’ composition.

bologna italy

The Plentiful Porticos

Are you down with porticos? Porticos are these arched walkway things that were plentiful in medieval cities of yesteryear. After a trip to Bolgona, you will be down  with them, and maybe even a little infatuated with them. Bologna has over 40 kilometers of these quintessentially European arcades; including a stretch of 600-plus that leads uphill to the famed Sanctuary of the Madonna of San Luca. In addition to being easy on the eyes, porticos provide fantastic shelter during dicey winter weather or the beating summer sun.

bologna italy

The Leaning Towers

Sorry Pisa, but Bologna is home to not one, but two famous leaning towers, and these towers are older and taller than yours. The two towers of Bologna are located directly in the city center, and you can even climb one – the Asinelli Tower- if you are up for it. The leaning towers of Bologna were built in medieval times as a form of security for wealthy families, and history has it that the city used to be home to over 150 of them.

bologna italy

The Fabulous Fontana di Nettuno

This fountain located just off Bologna’s main piazza is grand, and presents a slice of exactly what you came to Italy for in the first place. In fact, if I blindfolded you and revealed this statue, you’d know immediately what country you were in, it’s just that ‘Italian’. Gracing the city since the 1500’s, the fountain is perfect for picnics during the day or having a glass of wine by at night.

bologna italy

The Vibe

Bologna has always been a university town, and this laid back yet hip vibe permeates the city. And since Bologna only gets a fraction of the tourists as some other Italian cities, it still feels overwhelmingly ‘Italian’. A walk through the Giardini Margherita Park full of school kids in the afternoon or grabbing gelato at night at the drool-inducing La Sorbetteria Castiglione here still feels like an authentic experience, not a camera-flashing cattle call.


Photo Credit

This post originally appeared on TravelPulse

Travelly Picture: Beguinage in Bruges, Belgium

Everything you’ve heard about Bruges, Belgium is true: it’s historic, it’s pretty, and it’s overrun. It’s tough to escape the crowds in Bruges, but visiting the Beguinage (an old place where devout women used to live) gives you a fighting chance. Here’s a picture I took of it.

Beguinage Bruges




Here’s A Laundry List of Reasons to Love Ljubljana, Slovenia


ljubljana slovenia

It happened a few years ago. I was just sitting there, minding my own business, reading (thumbing) through the pages of my trusty European guide book.  I stumbled across a place called Ljubljana, Slovenia. Ljubljana was described in cliché phrases such as a ‘cozy’  ‘cafe-centric’ ‘split by a romantic river’, ‘crowned by a stoic castle’, and ‘filled with eclectic architecture and a fantastical bridge adorned with dragons’. Or something that like.

I was sold.

When I eventually made it to Ljubljana I immediately fell in love with the place, as almost every other person I’ve ever met who has gone there has as well. Here are a just a few of the reasons why I love the place, and I have a hunch you will too.

The Name

Names play a role in a place’s appeal, no question, and while Ljubljana sure looks tough to pronounce, it actually isn’t. No, it’s a pretty easy “le-yoo-BLYAH-nah” or if you’re feeling lazy just “loo-blana”. Regardless, that’s not the fun part of the name, the fun part is that it looks so intimidating and strange, it scares away a ton of the travel riff raff. This means that compared to other romantic European capitals, there are less people to elbow out of the way in Ljubljana for hotel rooms, restaurant tables, and picnic spots along the river.


ljubljana slovenia

The Buildings

This may come as a shock, but I’m no architecture expert. I do, however, know the result of cool construction when I see it, and Ljubljana is chock full of it. From the ‘pretty in pink’ Baroque beauty Franciscan Church of the Annunciation on to the unique Triple Bridge and very Venetian riverside Central Market, Ljubljana just feels different compared to other places, and that’s a good thing. Many of the unique touches to the city were made by famous native son Jože Plečnik, and if you’re an architecture expert, you will definitely want to visit the house he lived in Ljubljana, which is now a museum.

The Castle

A lovely exclamation point confirming Ljubljana’s storybook setting, Ljubljana Castle sits atop the medieval old town. The castle offers tours, is home to a restaurant, and is also a wedding venue if you’re feeling really romantic.

Ljubljana slovenia

The River

Speaking of the Ljubljanica River, it pleasantly splits Ljubljana’s Old Town right down the middle, creating a very dramatic city scene that sprawls out gracefully on both sides. Strolling along the Ljubljanica, admiring the flowing waters and the artwork on the banks is a true pleasure. There’s also a fun little bridge with four dragon busts on it just like the guide book says, and you’ll definitely want to take pictures of that.

As the Ljubljanica River flows away from downtown, a wide embankment has been built on its sides with large stone steps perfect for picnics, ‘social gatherings’, and even floating barge bars. And I can think of no better way to spend a sunny afternoon than soaking up sun and a local Union beer on the Ljubljanica embankment.

Hostel Celica

In keeping with its unique theme, Ljubljana is home to one of the coolest lodging spaces I’ve ever stayed at. A refurbished prison, Hostel Celica’s cells were painstakingly designed by local artists to each be a fun and fanciful space, one that you’ll be thrilled to be locked up abroad in for a night or two


Photo Credit

This post originally appeared on TravelPulse