Benvenuti a Bologna

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.

La Grassa – The Fat

I swear to you people here really are fatter than they are in Florence and with good reason. Bologna is essentially the food capital of Italy, home to popular dishes such as tortellini, lasagne, and spaghetti alla bolognese. Located in the Emilia-Romagna region, Bologna is also surrounded by other important culinary cities, such as Parma, the world’s largest producer of parmigiano reggiano (parmesan cheese) and Modena, which produces balsamic vinegar. Oh, and the next time you have that bologna sandwich, you can thank Bologna! Bologna might be a poor man’s meat in America, but bologna here, known as mortadella, is practically a delicacy.
bologna sandwich

American Baloney…

Mortadella

or Italian Baloney – Mortadella?

La Rossa – The Red

As much as I’d like to think that this nickname came from the fact that all of the roofs and buildings are red in Bologna, it actually has a much deeper meaning that what meets the eye. Communism has deep roots in Bologna. I’m no history expert, but I did do a little bit of research and found out that Bologna hosted a large amount the Italian Communist party’s activities during the 1940’s and onwards. It’s not quite as communist today, but you can still see many memorials related to fascism and political war.

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