Getting There in BolognaEdit This
Bologna is a well-connected city. It is easy to reach by plane, car or train. Moreover, given it's moderate size of about half a million people it does not have the traffic and clutter like Milano or Roma.
By train. The central train station of Bologna is located to the North of the city center and from the train station Via Indipendenza brings you immediately to the main square, Piazza Maggiore, in about 20 minutes walking.
Bologna is somewhat of a hub for trains and you can catch many convenient trains from here. To Milan (Milano 2.5 hrs) or Florence (Firenze, 1.5hrs) you can take many convenient IR (interregionale) trains, which avoids paying extra (see below). If you want to visit Rome (Roma) from Bologna, it is worthwhile taking an Eurostar train (ES) which gets you there in a stunning 2.5 hrs.
Taking trains in Italy On-line train planner for Italy. If you take the train in Italy, you have to stamp your ticket in one of those yellow machines before boarding the train, otherwise you risk a fine. If you happen to forget to do so, just play the ignorant foreigner. They will generally let you off the hook then. Do remember that for ES (Eurostar) and IC (Intercity) trains you have to pay extra. Moreover, if you take an ES on Friday or Saturday you have to get an additional prenotazione (reservation) for a specific train. This prenotazione is free but if you get caught without one, they will fine you (L20.000). Notice that ticket machines in train stations do not issue this prenotazione even though you did select a specific ES. It only sells you the ticket. Get the additional reservation from a staffed office. Be aware that trains in Bologna are sometimes rerouted to different platforms. This can happen up to a few minutes before departure and very often is only mentioned in Italian. Therefore, always ask whether you get into the right train and check on the announcement boards on each platform.
By plane Bologna has also a convenient airport, called Aeroporto G. Marconi di Bologna, to the North West of the city and has frequent flight with all other major European destinations (4 per day with Amsterdam, for instance). It is connected to the city center and train station by the Aerobus (L. 8.000), which runs every 20 minutes and takes about twenty minutes. When going to your hotel get off in the city center (Stop "San Pietro" for Hotel Cavour e.g.).
Aeroporto G. Marconi di Bologna (in Italian)
Other airports in the neighborhood of Bologna are Verona, Rimini and Florence.
By car Bologna is conveniently located on the A1, the major highway that runs North-South through Italy. If you come from the South (Rome, Florence) take the exit Bologna-Casalecchio to get on the Tangenziale (the yellow road in the map) and follow the signs for the center (centro).
For those coming from Ravenna or Ancona on the A14, take the exit at Bologna-San Lazzaro to get on the Tangenziale (the yellow road in the map) and follow the signs for the center (centro).