i The label ‘rough guide' is
a misnomer. There is nothing sketchy about the five new Rough Guide titles covering Paris. Berlin. ('rele. New York and Tuscany & Umbria. Not only do these fat paperbacks provide useful travelling tips. but they offer historical backgrounds and a wealth ofinsight on city life.
Nestled between city maps and information cove ring public transport. hotels. cafes. baby-sitting services. landmarks. talking clocks. hitch-hiking. newspapers. language and rape crisis centres. can be found gems of social commentary. The Paris Rough Guide. for instance. offers a compressed contextual outline covering riots and revolutions. shantytowns. palaces. new street plans and sanitation from the arrival of Caesar's armies in 528C to the collapse of Le Pen‘s Front National.
The Berlin Rough Guide is billed as the ‘first complete handbook to unified Berlin’ and is likely to be the most detailed and useful guide for independent travellers on the market. It offers comprehensive eating and drinking listings with comments on over 130 cafes and bars and an in-depth exploration on the unofficial squatting cafesofthe east. Furthermore. the guide includes an account ofthe demise ofthe GDR. city plans of pre-war Berlin and precise maps ofthe eastern suburbs which have been previously difficult to obtain.
It is The New York Rough Guide. however. which is indispensable to any prospective visitor. With so much on offer. this bafﬂing city can reducethe experience-hungry traveller to frustrated tears. This book provides the most useful information yet: where to find those elusive American post offices. (Roberta Mock)
Rough Guides to Berlin. New York. Paris. ( ‘rele. and Tuscany & Umhria. Published by Hurrap-(‘olumhus.16.99 } each. I
70’l‘he List 30 August 12 September l‘)‘)l
A fistful ofsuperlatives fail to describe the beautiful terracotta hue which immerses the medieval and (iothic architecture ofthe old city and its 35km of narrow, winding porticos. The sight of Piazza Maggiore with its huge and imposing church of San l’etronio bathed in sunlight or the Basilica ofSanta Stefano at dusk. brings out the Byron in anyone.
l lowever. in order to appreciate the city in all its medieval glory. the knee-trembling climb to the topof the Due lorri or Leaning 'l'owers is compulsory. ’l‘hese are the only standing remindersofthe lh’lltowers which dominated the skyline centuriesago.
Despite the fact that Bologna doesn‘t go out of its way to cater for tourists. it still has a lot to offer the culture vulture in terms of museums and art galleries. These have very weird opening hours. but it's worth persevering to visit the Medieval Museum with its cabinets of Byzantine and litruscan treasures. the l’inacoteca which houses works by such dab hands as ( iiotto. ('aracci and 'l'iziano and the Modern Art (iallery with its collection of Bologna's main man (iiorgo .‘viorandi and his series of ‘bottle‘ paintings.
Via Zamboni is home to one of Iiurope's oldest universities and the workplace of l ‘mberto lico who takesa weeklyclass in semiotics. l
g, 5: .
With literally thousands ofstudents careering round on bikes and mopeds as well as Piazza Berdi's resident drug addicts. the place has a unique atmosphere when nearby 'l'eatro (‘ommunale disgorges its opera crowds. This is also the area to hone in on if you're on a tight budget as the packed student bars and
restaurants provide cheap
sustenance in the form of
door-stopper sized pieces and frothy
Bologna‘s moniker as La (irassa
; (the fat) is attributed to the rich meat i diet and neat parcels of ring-shaped pasta called tortellini which are eaten with as much gusto as the crisp 5 thin pizzasofgargantuan - circumference in pizzerias of Via dell‘ lndipendenza. Even ifyou don’t have the appetite ofa horse. the market behind Ugo Bassi is worth visiting. ifonly to visit the huge array ofedible goods. ranging from shark to mozzarella.
For fresh-air fiends the hills , surrounding the city are the place for .7 misspent lazy afternoons in the sun. . downing cheap vino among the . vineyards and cherry blossom trees. I The parks surrounding Villa Ghighi and San Michele in Bosco lie just outside the city walls. as does (iardini Margheriti which is Bologna's equivalent to Central 3 Park with its cyclists. trampolines and crying bambinos. Those with a religious yearning may choose to join the hundreds ofpilgrims who yearly shuffle up the 3km ofnear vertical porticos to the sanctuary of Madonna of San Luca. an extraordinarily gaudy church with an amazing view of the Po Valley.
As for nightlife — well. this doesn‘t merely consist ofwalking up and down the Via dell‘lndipendenza in your fur coat for two hours carrying a car radio and stopping off for a psychedelic coloured aperitif. There are numerous lively bars (osterias) and clubs hidden away where the students drink till the wee hours. A suggested escapade may start with some beers or frizzantino (very fizzy white wine) at ()steria del Sole for some chit-chat then on to La Veredda. home ofsangria and Spanish soundtracks. lsola is a well run squat which runs bands or discos every weekend. while serious clubbers choose Kinky or Matis to shake their thang.
Bologna is the perfect balm for anyone sick of traipsing around on the tourist treadmill of Florence. Venice. Rome and Naples: make a detour and see the real ltaly fora - while.
USEFUL INFORMATION Getting there
I By air: Luton—Bologna. £179 return. Edinburgh-Milan. £219 return. I By train: Edinburgh—Bologna. £148 return.
Contact student travel
due to the numberof
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.1 pensione or albergo.
specialists Campus Travel atThe Hub. Hillhead Street. Glasgow (041 357 0608) or Campus Travel. 5 Nicolson Square. Edinburgh (031 668 3303) and Edinburgh Travel Centre. Bristo Square (031 668 2162).
I Bologna has a chronic accommodation problem
students in the town as well as the 'fairs' which go on all year round: however. the Tourist lnformation Offices in Piazza Maggione and beside the railway station are very helpful in trying to find rooms. It would be better to book in advance if possible though. Expect to pay about £30 per night fora double room in agood
I The Rough Guide To Italy (£8.95) gives all the information you need. from accommodation to the sights around town.
Temperature I In July and August the
temperature is around 80°F.