Bologna hosts four to six major trade fairs a year, during which times hotel room rates rise dramatically. You’ll save a lot of money if you choose another time to visit (fair dates vary yearly; check with the tourist office). Bologna has a booming bed & breakfast scene, as well as many short-term rental apartments. A good place to browse offerings is Airbnb.com and VRBO.com. The most unique rental in town is Torre Prendiparte, a 12th-century tower—guests get the entire 11-story structure with roof terrace all to themselves, so along with plenty of medieval atmosphere and great views from the top comes some stair-climbing exercise to get from one level to the next (Piazzetta Prendiparte 5, prendiparte.it, tel. 335-561-6858; from 500€ a night).
An important note on driving and parking: Much of central Bologna is closed to cars without special permits from 7am to 8pm daily (including Sun and holidays). When booking a room, be prepared to present your car registration number, which the hotel will then provide to the police to ensure that you are not fined for driving in a restricted area. Parts of the central city are entirely off limits to traffic on Sundays, so you will have to park outside the center. Ask when booking, and also ask about parking facilities (a hotel-issued parking permit is required in some areas) as well as the most efficient route to take to reach your hotel, because many streets are permanently closed to traffic. Best yet, come to this easily walkable city without a car.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.