“Bologna is celebrated for producing popes, painters, and sausages.” – Lord Byron (1788-1824)
Rome, Venice, Florence, the Amalfi Coast… the classic sites of Italy are incomparable in their appeal for both first-time visitors and repeat returners. Yet one of Ker & Downey’s passions is pursuing points of interest outside the typical tourist circuit, whether that’s presenting a popular locale in a new light or introducing an unexpected gem to the captivated traveler. One such gem is a magical place where creativity, tradition, innovation, culture, and an enthusiasm for the finer things in life all collide. It’s a wonder why more people don’t pay her homage more often!
We are, of course, talking about Her Majesty, Bologna.
Traditionally known as the “Learned”, the “Fat”, and the “Red”, Bologna is an enchanting medieval jewel with an illustrious past. This splendid city is the home to Europe’s oldest university, the heir to a sublime culinary tradition, and an ancient protected village famous for the warm colors of its buildings, churches, and squares. It’s also a land of writers, poets, painters, and musicians, and thus acknowledged by UNESCO as a “creative city of music”.
Those interested in traveling off the beaten path and experiencing Bologna’s many riches will not be disappointed. In fact, the city’s location at the midpoint between Venice and Florence makes it that much easier to incorporate into a classic Italian itinerary.
Here are some of the exclusive Ker & Downey experiences you might expect to find awaiting you should you pursue the road less traveled to Bologna.
Ferrari, Maserati, Pagani – these are all names associated with the region surrounding Bologna. From a full-day Formula 1 driving experience to a private dinner in the Ferrari Victories Hall, Ker & Downey can transform even the slightest interest into an adrenaline-packed, all-access experience. Perhaps one of the most unique stops for any sports car enthusiast is at a private home in the heart of the Motor Valley, where a local family boasts the most important private Vintage Maserati Collection in the world, as well as one of the best Italian Parmigiano Reggiano productions in the country – truly a match made in car and culinary heaven.
Fans of Chef’s Table on Netflix will recognize Chef Massimo Bottura as the 3-Michelin star personality from Season 1. Massimo’s Osteria Francescana in Modena was named the best restaurant in the world in 2016 and remains a point of pilgrimage for foodies around the world. But traveling with Ker & Downey means so much more than securing reservations at this coveted restaurant. It also involves meeting the culinary genius himself and hearing about the philosophy and culture of his food excellence. He will even lead you to his cheese factory to show you the Parmesan and Balsamic vinegar production, and will cap it all off by cooking a meal especially for you.
Customized clothing reaches a whole new level in Bologna. Inside a well-restored eighteenth-century villa is an extraordinary collection of ancient fabrics, where you can enjoy a private demonstration of local luxury craftsmanship, all made in Bologna. You will even have a chance to meet some of the owners of these ateliers and put in your order for your next made-to-measure shirt or pair of shoes. Alternatively, nearby at Palazzo Albergati resides arguably the greatest Italian luthier, who can demonstrate to you how to build the perfect violin.
Maestros of Music
Pavarotti might be a household name, but few have the chance to visit his actual house. The international opera icon was born in Modena, near Bologna, and now has a house museum dedicated to his lifetime of achievements. Experiencing the museum with Ker & Downey means meeting his wife, Nicoletta Mantovani Pavarotti, to learn about the singer’s life and passions while enjoying a private concert.
The largest labyrinth in existence just so happens to reside near Bologna. Constructed entirely of bamboo plants – numbering 200,000 in total – this maze is perfect for wandering and reflection. After getting lost in the labyrinth, meet the maze’s extraordinary creator and creative entrepreneur, Mr. Franco Maria Ricci, to learn about the conceptualization and execution of such a marvel.
Princes and Palaces
Bologna is a region ripe with palaces. Whether its behind-the-scenes access to the art collection inside the Comunale Palace, or a personal meet and greet with a prince at his personal villa, the opportunities to feel like royalty are endless here.
Bologna may not be a traditional Italian destination, but it is one that is worth incorporating into your next visit, whether it’s your first or fifth time to the country. Contact a Ker & Downey destination specialist today to begin planning your trip to Her Majesty, Bologna.