Subject: Re: Bologna

It's my experience that the hotel situation in Bologna can be very tight, especially when there is a trade show going on in the area. But rather than give up on seeing this town, (my favorite in all of Italy), I'd suggest making a home base somewhere close by.

At various times, I've stayed in Modena-- a beautiful relatively small town with a gorgeous central piazza and lovely market. Correggio - a charming mix of medieval and modern. We stayed at the Best Western Hotel Dei Medaglioni and were very pleased. And we had dinner twice at a fantastic restaurant, L'Incontro, right down the road in Carpi. Rubiera - a tiny town without much charm, but with a lovely little hotel, Arnaldo, and its sister restaurant La Clinica Gastronomica. These make a stay here worthwhile, and the road to Bologna or Modena is quick and easy. Ferrara - lots of history here, ancient and modern. Lots of hotels.

All of the above I'd prefer to staying in Parma. Parma has its charms but in my view they don't compare to the marvels to discover in the area around Bologna and Modena. For example, I'd suggest seizing the opportunity to lunch at the Osteria di Rubbiara in Nonantola, just north east of Modena. But there are dozens of wonderful and hidden places just like this throughout the zone. Many restaurants are centered around a family "farm" that produces its own balsamic vinegar, and don't pass up the chance to try these private label vinegars. Buy a 50+ year-old bottle directly from the producer, and hang the cost. Once home, you'll never regret it, at least until you've run out.

Joel Chicago