A few weeks ago, I was lucky enough to travel to Bologna in Italy as part of their Blogville programme- where travel bloggers from around the world visit their region of Italy and live like a local- staying in an apartment in the centre of town and experiencing everything from food to fashion first hand.
This was the view from our apartment- pretty sweet, huh? I'd been to Bologna once before but only for a 24 hour styling job, so had only glimpsed the city- this time I was able to properly explore. It had everything I love about Italy- incredible architecture, surprises down every street, stylish locals, delicious food, amazing shops and it was even surrounded by incredible countryside. I actually lived in Florence on my gap year, and though I loved it, I have to admit I much preferred the atmosphere in Bologna. The population in Florence is 70% non-Italian- mostly students from abroad studying the language, history of art or such like. It was great fun but meant that I didn't really feel like I was experiencing the genuine Italian lifestyle, whereas in Bologna I felt we had a much more authentic visit. There are far fewer tourists in Bologna too, which means the locals are always really pleased to see you and keen to chat- such a refreshing reaction and so different to how tourists are treated in London!
This is the first in a series of posts I'll be writing about the trip, as there's so much to say! There are also a lot of thankyous to be said- so please bear with me!
First off are the airline German Wings who flew us out there and back- we were a little wary as none of us had heard of them before but they were great-much better than RyanAir!
Secondly, I must thank Nicholas who was our exceptional host in Italy- a real Italian gentleman with excellent taste in t-shirts.
And last but not least, the lovely Akeela who organised the whole thing for us- she's an absolute legend and fast becoming a travel blogging queen! Here's a snap she took of Frankie, me and Sara, a Finnish blogger who was staying with us too. The pictures above I took on my Diana lomography camera, the one below is Akeela's- I'm not sure what model she was using. There's a bloggers' workshop at Lomography in London next Saturday 23rd which I think I will pop along to- I'm still learning the ropes!
It's amazing how in foreign cities, we find even the most mundane things like street signs and bicycles completely charming.
Having arrived on the Thursday evening, we set off on Friday to discover some of the towns surrounding Bologna- first up, Reggio Emilia. My favourite place here was the beautiful old theatre which had incredible old posters inside, as well as stunning murals.
Here's a picture of Frankie in one of the beautifully decorated rooms people could hire for functions.
On the Saturday we moved from the Blogville apartment to a lovely hotel- The Art Hotel Orologio-organised by Akeela again, pictured here sipping tea in our hotel room. The hotel was part of a gorgeous chain or boutique hotels, this one had a very art deco feel and was full of ancient clocks. When we arrived we were greeted by From Russia With Love playing on our hotel room television- dubbed into Italian of course! It all felt very glamorous and luxurious, especially when we had breakfast with the hotel owner the next day, a lovely lady, timelessly stylish in that typical Italian way- mixing what must have been antique pearls with a modern Issey Miyake handbag and totally pulling it off! She introduced us to her son who worked for Greenpeace in Milan- between us we tried to explain to her what blogging and social media involved with the help of Frankie's ipad! Said technology was also the source of endless amusement as Frankie shared her 'Speak Italian' app with locals wherever we went - 'I won't do it without a condom' becoming our Italian catchphrase!
More posts to come soon on what we wore, what we bought and what we ate!Ciao for now!