Bologna is a great place for hanging out, having a taste of La dolce vita, enjoying some delicious food and socializing. But, as you might have noticed, things get more difficult when it’s time to work. Especially if you are, like me, a freelancer with no office and plenty of stuff to do from your computer. Very few co-working spaces, even less cafes where people keep the volume of their voice down and no guarantee that you’ll always find plugs and free wi-fi along with your cappuccino. But there’s hope.
Here are some places where I actually like to work from. And while I’m still waiting for the perfect location, they all provide a decent balance of atmosphere and productivity.
Any addition will be welcome: feel free to contribute!
Salaborsa (Piazza del Nettuno 3)
This super central, super popular and really scenographic place really makes me proud of Bologna. It’s democracy incarnated. It opened some 12 years ago and immediately managed to be a central, easy alternative to a square (despite not being a shopping mall!): this means that, aside from students and remote workers, you’ll also find people that are just looking for a place to charge their phones or to stay when it’s cold outside, as well as local icon “umarells” (retired elderly men) reading the rich selection of newspapers and magazines on the first floor (which I personally find adorable). Tip: if you want to skip the main, overcrowded library but still look for silence, go to the hidden reading room on the first floor.
noise level: depending on where you sit
wi-fi: free (but not super performing)
Bottega Portici – 2 Torri (Piazza di Porta Ravegnana 2)
I recently noticed that working from this place – more known for being the latest outlet of Portici Hotel and for its popular windows where a sfoglina makes fresh pasta like all-the-time – is easier than expected. Provided you avoid lunchtime and you leave before aperitivo. The open space on the first floor is nice and new, almost every table has at least one plug at reach and you can stay for ages once you ordered your coffee, that incidentally is from Caffè Terzi and comes with a chocolate tortellino. There’s some music playing in the background, not too intrusive except during lunchtime, when the volume goes up.
noise level: medium
Fram Café (Via Rialto 22)
This cute and very popular vegetarian cafe, on a nice street and just in front of Cinema Rialto, is almost exclusively used by remote workers in the morning, which means that there’s a nice quiet atmosphere. Even customers that come here for breakfast or meet for coffee tend to be relaxed and speak with a low voice, which, along with the selection of herbal teas and cakes, makes for quite an ideal location for spending some productive hours in a nice environment. Plus, it’s one of the few places in town where you can order lassi. Despite the many pros, there’a couple of cons, at least for me: I find the lunch menu slightly overpriced for what it offers and the recycled chairs quite uncomfortable. But if you’re fast, you can work from the sofa 🙂
Noise level: quiet (lunch hour can be slightly noisier)
Biblioteca Renzo Renzi (Via Azzogardino 65/b)
One of my favorite places to work from, this semi-public library is clean, silent and indeed beautiful. It’s on the same building as the Cineteca di Bologna (just over the ticket counter) and, for me, this means the great bonus of being surrounded by an impressive collection of volumes of cinema studies, plus an array of very old copies of film magazines. Last but not least, once you’re done with your work you can go straight to Sala Mastroianni or Sala Scorsese and watch a movie. But even if you couldn’t care less about cinema, this place is great for working and provides the ideal environment for concentration. Only problem, opening hours change often, because the place is often involved in the events hosted by the Cinematheque. Please note: every time you go, you’ll be asked to leave your bag in a locker and tell your name.
noise level: very quiet
wi-fi: free (but it’s “Iperbole”, same as Sala Borsa’s: not always super reliable)
Archiginnasio (piazza Galvani 1)
The most beautiful space of them all and also the oldest venue, Archiginnasio was built in the XVIth Century and served as the major location for most University teachings and examinations until the early XIXth. Once one of Bologna’s best kept secrets, it’s slowly turning into a regular tourist destination and always worth a visit, with its frescoed ceilings, its walls decorated with inscriptions and monuments commemorating old teachers and masters, coats of arms and old students names, plus the beautiful old anatomy theatre on the first floor. Also on the first floor is the library, luckily precluded to random visitors and devoted only to students and, well, quiet people working from computers. Two big rooms, a very old and solemn atmosphere, plus the possibility to occasionally look at or pass by the majestic wooden room where antiques books are still kept.
noise level: very quiet
wi-fi: free (but it’s still dear old Iperbole)