Where Travelers and Locals Meet in We_Bologna ItalyTuesday, September 20, 2016
There's something so inviting about hostels when I travel alone.
It must be that youthful vibe, the noisy chatter of several languages at once, the colorful artsy nooks, or, should you want it, that cocoon of anonymity.We_Bologna in Italy. I was looking for a place that was original, vibrant and comfortable. I had found them through Eco Bnb, a website that allows you to find eco-friendly accommodations. Their mission is to change the way we travel. To nurture a network that will thrive on the kind of tourism that respects nature, the economy and the local communities.
I arrived on a red eye flight from Porto and asked for Andrea, the manager of We_Bologna, whom I've coordinated with via email. I was surprised to receive a bacio from the curly haired man who manages the hostel. "I though you were a woman!", I jokingly said to him. "Oh but in Italy, Andrea is a man's name!", he laughed back. It feels like he's my long lost friend. Andrea has the uncanny ability to make you feel like you just met your couchsurfing host and he's going to show you the best side of his city. His energy, even at midnight, was boundless.
I wished I could match it, but I was already starting to fall asleep in the lobby. He gave me my room key and told me to it was on the 3rd floor. I was expecting a college dorm bed bunk, and I was partly right about the college vibe. But I still got a private room which seemed a bit too large for just me. There were 2 beds, big glass windows overlooking 2 modern buildings, a large desk and study area, and a bathroom that seemed a bit too luxurious for my modest needs.
I started to contemplate the whole "design hostel" concept before promptly falling asleep- the bed was just too comfy! The answers came in the morning.
Over breakfast, I had a chance to chat with Andrea and Fabrizia, the head of communications. They told me the hostel was new, barely a year old and still a work in progress. They primarily catered to university students who come to the city. But they are expanding the concept to include families, solo travelers, basically anyone who wants a comfortable place at a place that's inclusive with a fun artsy vibe. I looked around and saw exactly the people they described lining up at the buffet table.
The Milk is from Guglielmo’s cows, born on the hills near Monzuno, a few kilometers from Bologna. The Bread from Forno Calzolari, made with organic flour from the wheat fields in Monghidoro. The Coffee is from Albero del Caffè, a small roasting in Anzola that employs disadvantaged people.
I learned that being eco-friendly was not just a buzzword they use. They actually went the extra mile to make the hostel eco-friendly right from the beginning. The hostel was built following energy efficiency and energy saving criteria, for example, through a system of isolation for the building. Most of their furniture comes from Slow Wood, a network of artisans and designers that promotes products made in Italy. I was delighted to also find that the bath products they gave out came from a program that helped rehabilitate and provide work for prisoners in the local jail.
I thoroughly enjoyed my chat with Andrea and Fabrizia about the hostel. Both of them really love this place and enjoy working here. I almost forgot the fact that I only had a day to spend in the city. They were gracious enough to send me off, but not without many of their personal recommendations. They told me where to get the best pasta of course, but also where the best market was, where to go for a walking tour, so many places that I probably would never find on my own.
I eagerly walked around past the train station which was conveniently a block away from the hostel. It was easy enough to navigate the place on foot. I was tempted to take their offer of a bike but walking seemed like the best way to really experience Bologna. To have the freedom to stop at anytime and take any route I wanted.
My short stay in Bologna is something I could smile about. Everything was smooth sailing and I didn't have to worry about a single thing. I also love that the guys behind We_Bologna are doing their best to help the community. It's certainly a place I would recommend to my friends who are coming to the city. Special thanks for the complimentary stay!