Playing host to a number of high profile trade fairs and events each year, the Italian city of Bologna is no stranger to business travellers. It’s also home to a large proportion of small and medium sized industries, so it’s definitely geared up to its regular influx of corporate visitors.
On the numerous times I’ve visited the city in the course of work, I’ve been pleasantly surprised at the range of facilities and the progressive local infrastructure. It’s a lovely place in which to do business (hey, it’s Italy!) and I’ve picked up a few local tips that might help make a short stay here even more productive and enjoyable.
Getting to Bologna
A flight from the UK to Bologna takes just over two hours, with a number of airlines flying regular scheduled routes, including British Airways. You can select from flights departing from Gatwick, Heathrow and Stansted Airports, with plenty of convenient times available.
When you land at Bologna (BLQ), the most reliable and efficient way of getting straight to your meeting or accommodation is on one of Shuttle Direct’s pre-booked door-to-door transfers. You’ll have a choice of Standard, Executive or Premium services and within around 30 minutes you’ll be at your destination.
The airport has two terminals: Terminal A for Europe and domestic, and Terminal B servicing international travellers.
Wi-Fi: Wi-Fi is free anywhere in the terminals for up to six hours. Connect by logging in to Bologna Airport Free Wi-Fi. Makes sense! You do have to register but it only takes a few seconds.
Facilities: While the shopping facilities aren’t massive there are still quite a few of the usual suspects in terms of designer retail shops. There are also over a dozen eateries, including the Sky Lounge and Bar, which offers views of the runway.
Corporate Lounges: I’ve used the facilities of the excellent Marconi Lounge a number of times, which includes a dedicated Business Lounge with an office area. You can hire out a meeting room or the Conference Hall, but bookings are essential. I have a colleague who flew in, attended a large-scale event at the Marconi Lounge, and flew home without ever leaving the airport!
My Favourite Bologna Business Hotel
My top recommendation for a corporate stay is the UNA Hotel Bologna. The hotel’s superb central location makes it ideal if you’re attending a number of events. It’s within a couple of kilometres of the Bologna Fiere Exhibition Centre and it’s also just across the road from the train station.
The contemporary rooms are very elegantly appointed and have a really luxurious feel. There’s a desk to catch up on work, free Wi-Fi (throughout the hotel) and plenty of room to move. One thing I confess I haven’t taken advantage of (yet), but I found quite unique, is the UNAthletic Executive room accommodation – the rooms are furnished with state-of-the-art fitness equipment!
The refined UNA Restaurant is perfect for a business lunch or dinner and, in true Italian style, the bar is open until midnight. The hotel excels with its three separate meeting and event rooms, each with extensive services and equipment on request.
A Couple of Others…
Another great corporate hotel in the city is HC3 Hotel – and their mantra “business is our business” should give a clue as to why! Its central location and extra touches for business clients make all the difference, including free coffee, free Wi-Fi and a dedicated corporate area with well-equipped meeting rooms.
Lastly, the Hotel Cosmopolitan Bologna is another of my favourites. Located very close to the Exhibition Centre, the hotel is designed specifically around corporate travellers, with free Wi-Fi, spacious rooms and a well-appointed meeting room complete with the latest hi-tech conferencing facilities.
Wining & Dining Your Clients
With a reputation as the gastronomic hub of the north, it’s not hard to find a great restaurant in this city! But one particular little gem I’ve discovered is Cesoia (Via Guiseppe 90), which is the perfect place to bring a client for a casual lunch or dinner meeting.
With a menu based around the fresh local produce of the region, the food is simple, contemporary, yet with an authentic nod to chef Pietro Montanari’s Nonna, no doubt!
It’s got a great ambience and is light, spacious and open, making it easy to mix work and pleasure. They do a great business lunch and if you book ahead they can cater to larger meetings with a menu of your choice.
Time to Spare….
If you do happen to unlock a few pockets of spare time, most of the city’s considerable charms can be experienced on a stroll around the streets.
For anyone interested in architecture, the massive Gothic San Petronio Basilica will make jaws drop, with its no less than 22 chapels. For number crunchers, it’s the tenth largest church in the world but the largest made of bricks.
You can’t but help stumble upon the Two Towers of Bologna, which reach 97m and 48m respectively, while the numerous Portici (elegant archways) dotted around the city are decorated with ornate frescos and are well worth a look.
If you’ve only got a short time, my highest recommendation is simply to take a stroll down to Piazza Maggiore and enjoy a bit of people watching and aperitivo sipping! Very relaxing and terribly Italian. Alternatively, a wander around the bustling Quadrilatero is a great opportunity not just to enjoy the medieval magic of the markets, but also pick up some fresh pasta takeaway dinner.
If you’ve got a little longer and want to clear your head and get some amazing views, a hike up to the top of San Luca will help you do both. Exploring the ornate, well-preserved basilica is a reward of a different kind.
About Shuttle Direct:
If you’re a corporate traveller you need a company you can rely on for your airport transfers. Shuttle Direct is the most trusted name in the industry for fast, reliable airport transfers all over Europe. Get to your meeting or event on time, every time, with our pre-booked Standard, Executive or Premium transfers. You can make an easy online booking and a professional driver will be waiting at the airport to take you directly to wherever you need to go – in style and with a smile.