It’s official – I am now a resident of Bologna! It all happened so quickly that I still can’t believe it was only a week ago. I had been training with an English school in Florence, when suddenly they decided to offer me a teaching position at their new location in Bologna. I figured I had nothing to lose, and as much as I didn’t want to leave the beautiful city of Florence, which has been home to me for the past few months, I felt as though more was waiting for me in Bologna. I have always felt a strange connection to Bologna. I first visited the city in 2009 and I really liked it, even though we did nothing but walk around for a few hours. I never could quite explain my fascination with anyone, but still, it remained on the list as one of my favorite Italian cities. Now that I have had the chance to immerse in the city a little more deeply, I think I am starting to understand why.
Coming from Florence, where everything is beautiful, chic and expensive and where there are more tourists than Italian natives, Bologna is quite the contrast. It is a rather laid back city, full of university students, quiet streets and the most genius architectural design – porticoes! Although smaller than Florence, it is still a rather large city and it is certainly not a place that could be exhausted in one day.
Perhaps the best way to describe Bologna is through its three nicknames: “la dotta, la grassa, e la rossa” – the learned, the fat and the red.
La Dotta – The Learned
Bologna is home to the oldest university in the world! The University of Bologna (UNIBO) was first founded in 1088 and now has more than 100,000 students and 23 different locations. I have already experienced UNIBO students first hand when I was randomly asked by a group of students to join their fraternity. Today I overheard a small group of students chanting loudly as they made their way into the city. And my roommates are all students (not just at UNIBO). Plus there are a fair share of study abroad programs here. UNIBO or not, Bologna is undoubtedly a university town which is made evident by the herds of students that flock to the bars near the two towers on the weekend.