Bologna Inside - Second Edition

[Skip to Page Content]



ESSENTIAL SERVICES (See also Chapter 2)


While many areas of the province have excellent public transportation links, driving is almost imperative. If you live in the Apennines, you should also learn the basics about driving in snow. In this area, it is common to honk when entering a blind corner.


The tangenziale encircles two-thirds of the city, beginning in Casalecchio di Reno (exit 1) and ending beyond San Lazzaro di Savena (exit 12), in the Idice extension.

I have always loved the historical center of Bologna, but living just outside of Sasso Marconi for almost 15 years has made me appreciate it even more. It is actually quite easy to get back and forth by train, bus, car and combinations of the above. Going with the family is a special trip. We plan the day, decide where to park, buy enough bus tickets for everyone, pick the restaurant (usually McDonald’s to appease my 13-year-old daughter), map out the itinerary; a major production for the 22 km trek. The only challenge is getting everyone past their provincial comfort zone to make the epochal jump.

Lisa Gelhaus

The tangenziale is useful for entering and exiting the autostrada, but during rush hour can be a nightmare. If you need to commute on the tangenziale, it is worth your while to study the calendar of the fiere and plan an alternate route during large trade shows: By law, you must always turn on your headlights while driving on the tangenziale.


If you aren’t terrified by high speeds, truck convoys and dense traffic, the autostrada can be a quick alternative to the tangenziale for getting from one end of the province to another. Italian autostrade, indicated by green signs, are privately owned and you must pay a pedaggio (toll). If you commute on the autostrada, you will want to consider a Telepass, which will allow you to pass in a special lane, automatically debiting the toll. For more information, see

Be aware of some behaviors that are not listed in your driver’s manual. For example, when you see a car flashing its lights behind you, it means another driver is coming up on you fast and wants you to get over in the other lane. In other words: get out of the way! Although you will see others passing in the emergency lane, this can result in automatic suspension of your license.

Traffic and road condition information is broadcast on Isoradio at the frequency 103.3.
You can also check conditions on the Isoradio website at

The following is a list of autostrade passing through Bologna:

A1- Autostrada del Sole: connects Milano and Napoli passing through Bologna, Firenze and Roma. It is the longest freeway in terms of distance and is also the first freeway built in Italy, hence number A1.

A14 - Autostrada Adriatica: connects Bologna and Taranto passing through the Riviera Romagnola. Beach traffic can clog this freeway from Bologna to Cesena.

A13 – Bologna/Padova: connects Bologna and Padova passing through Ferrara and Rovigo. On the Bologna end it connects to the A1 and A14. On the Padova end you can pick up the A4 for Torino-Trieste.

A22 - Autostrada del Brennero: connects the Pianura Padana beginning in Modena with Brennero and on to Austria and Germany.


There is generally good public transportation service between the towns in the province and the city of Bologna, making it possible to commute by train or bus. See information on the extra-urbane (beyond city limits) bus lines. A map of provincial rail lines is available at

If you are commuting by train, consider an abbonamento (membership). Some passes combine train and bus transport. There is a special sportello (ticket window) in the Bologna train station that sells tickets by fascia (segment). You can buy them in bulk (such as 20 segments, each good for 10 km) and then use them as needed.

Tip: the 8-ride City Pass you bought in Bologna is also valid in Imola, Castel San Pietro Terme, Porretta Terme and vice-versa.

In the Pianura, areas that are not serviced by regular bus lines are instead connected to the principal routes via the Prontobus, a shuttle service that only makes its routes if you have called to reserve it. If you need to reach the Bentivoglio hospital using public transportation, for example, you will need to call the Prontobus at least 35 minutes prior to your departure. The Prontobus is very reliable and easy to use.

Prontobus Call Center

Tel. 051.290299 (active Monday-Saturday 6-20; holidays 7-20)



Just because you don’t see Der Spiegel or the New York Times in your local edicola (newsstand), doesn’t mean you need to make a trip to the city. Try asking your newsstand to special order foreign periodicals for you. If you special order, you will be expected to pick up your paper.


Some local libraries have foreign language materials, but for a larger selection, try using the inter-library loan system. You can request books from the Sala Borsa and university libraries and your library card will work at any branch included in the system. Search online at:


For gas, electricity, water and other services, you will set up contracts with Hera and Enel as described in Chapter 2: Essential Services. Depending on where you live, your gas may not be connected to the city main, but instead draw on a GPL bombola (tank). GPL stands for gas di petrolio liquefatti (liquified petrolum gas). In this case, your service will probably be privately furnished.

I love the Bus 90 ride from the suburbs into town. I used to live at the very last stop. People getting on there wore slippers and casual clothing to go to the supermarket at the next stop. Those coming in at the supermarket to go to San Lazzaro’s center were slightly more elegant. At the Bellaria hospital, people got on wearing bathrobes and sometimes horrible eye patches or other bandages. Then as the bus approached Bologna, the passengers became very elegant, with bags matching their shoes, and socks matching their scarves. I always dress up as best as I can, but by the time I get to the final stop on Piazza Cavour, I feel I must look like a country cousin.

Pauline Mollema