To write about Bologna is a bit hard and easy in the same time. I love this city and every time I think about it, it just brings a big smile on my face 🙂
The University of Bologna was founded in 1088 and is considered to be the oldest existing university in the world. Some people may say that there’s another university in Alexandria that is the world oldest, and this will be true. Nevertheless, UNIBO is the oldest that still open and receives students from all over the world. At the beginning each master collected fees from students on an individual basis, later it became an important centre of European intellectual life during the Middle Ages, attracting scholars such as: Dante, Petrarch, Thomas Becket, Pope Nicholas V, Erasmus of Rotterdam, Peter Martyr Vermigli, and Copernicus. In 1732, Laura Bassi became the first woman to officially teach at a college in Europe. Today the faculties of Bologna University are spread throughout the city.
The fourth oldest botanical garden in Europe belongs to University of Bologna and it was established in 1568. This botanical garden is open to public, free of charge. If you want to visit it, then your visit to Bologna should be sometime between April and October.
The address : Via Irnerio, 42.
Schedule: Monday – Thursday 08:00 – 15:00 (from April until October); Saturday 08:00 – 13:00; Sunday and National Holidays: closed.
Means of transportation: Bus no. 20, 28, 36, 37.
About the city of Bologna
The city of Bologna is the largest city of Emilia-Romagna Region in Northern Italy. The first settlements of which date back to at least 1000 BC.
If you have the chance to talk with a Bolognese or local then you’re most likely to be told that Bologna has acquired many nicknames. The interesting part is that these nicknames are related to the local food, to its university or to the political appartenence of the city. “the learned one” (la dotta) is a reference to its university; “the fat one” (la grassa) refers to its cuisine (here I want to mention the world famous Bolognese sauce and mortadella). “The red one” (la rossa) originally refers to the color of the roofs in the historic centre, but this nickname is also connected to the political situation in the city.
Perfect time for shopping and unique pictures are Friday and Saturday! On each Friday and Saturday of the month on piazza VIII Agosto (8th of August square) is held a local market with discounted brand clothes, local small brands and other goods at attractive prices are exposed for sale. If you head there, be aware of pickpockets! Also, walk around the city, take the small streets or go out and experience the night life in Bologna, because it’s one of the best! Being a student city, Bologna has it all: from clubs, bars to theaters and cinemas, just pick the place and go for it. In via Zamboni are the most famous and popular bars and clubs, but if you’re looking for something else then Millenium club is something you have to try, especially on Thursdays! For a good quality aperitivo, make sure to be some 40 minutes earlier at MAMBo to reserve a table. The aperitivo will cost you about 8 euro, but it’s worth the money! Other places? I will recommend Osteria del Sole, Cafe Zamboni and Bounty.
Going back to the unusual pictures you are looking for and if you’re lucky and the full moon is shining bright then walk to Bologna’s most famous towers – “Due Torri” (Asinelli and Garisenda), whose iconic leaning forms provide a popular symbol of the town. Choose your favourite angle and take the photos you want. I’m sure you’ll have a spectacular composition, lights and shadows 😉
Bologna is also known for it’s gates. We were used to joke, that you can totally forget about carrying an umbrella with you, you have porticoes to hide from rain 🙂 The total length of these porticoes are about 38 kilometers long and they cover most of the city’s historical centre.
Another symbol of Bologna is the Sanctuary of the Madonna di San Luca. When walking towards San Luca hill (289m), you’ll pass Porta Saragozza. From this gate to the top of the hill are 666 steps and are all porticoes. This type of construction is considered to be the longest in the world. If you’re coming from Milan or Venice, then you can see this church from your train.
Today, the city is home to prestigious cultural, economic and political institutions as well as one of the most impressive trade fair districts in Europe. In 2000 it was declared European capital of culture and in 2006, a UNESCO “city of music”. The city of Bologna was selected to participate in the Universal Exposition of Shanghai 2010 together with 45 other cities from around the world.
Craving for something more interesting and maybe unusual, or maybe you want to become an explorer for one or two days?
Here are some tips:
Try to discover Bologna’s mysteries or the 6 secrets. Where are they:
1. Neptun sculpture, try looking at it from different angles….you’ll be surprised by an optic illusion. Not telling what you have to see, though 😀
2.In piazza Maggiore is the second one. Walk through Palazzo Podesta and when you see a small squared place with round arches stop and talk to one of the corners. Before that make sure that one of your friends is just in the opposite corner. What do you hear? 🙂
3.Venice window. Try to find it at Via Piella 18
4.Sette Chiese or Seven Churches. From outside is just one church, step inside! 🙂
5.Casa Isolani on the ceiling of the portico, if you look carefully, you can see an arrow.
6.The Portico di San Luca and the 666 steps. It seems that it takes a very long time to get up the hill, but if you go there on a clear day, then the view from the hill is just breathtaking.
I’ll add one more here: the hills around Bologna. You can walk to one just from Giardini Margherita, a very nice park that I recommend to go and relax.
Where to eat?
I have few favourite places where I liked to have a dinner or lunch. One of the places is @ via dell’Independenza , in via dei Falegnami 5. The name of the restaurant is Ristorante Pizzeria Mangiassieme. If you want to stay away from the city center and have try a typical Bolognese food, then you should go to Trattoria da Vito. They don’t have a web page, but you can find them in Via M. Musolesi 9 and for a reservation call to +39 051 349809. I have to say that da Vito is a very popular place, therefore a reservation is required. Also, please keep in mind that a dinner will cost you somewhere between 20 euros and up per person.
If you want to try some nice Japanese food, then I will recommend to go to Sushi Bar Haiku. Another one is on Marconi street. Unfortunately I forgot the name of it, but is you walk towards the train station then you should see it on your right hand side. It’s a traditional Japanese restaurant with welcoming staff and very good food 😉
If you don’t want to have a Japanese, Italian or Chinese dinner but want something else, then an Indian dinner will make the difference. I love the food at Ristorante India.
Aperitovo are a real substitute for dinner, you can eat as much as you can and pay only one time for your drink! Or you can buy pizza by slice and it’s a very good and popular one just nearby the towers!
If it’s lunch time and you want to have something under 5euros! then you should walk to piazza Verdi (along via Zamboni) and then take the narrow street on the right hand side. There are small shops that sell custom made panini! You can choose the bread, the meat and toppings and will not pay more than 5 euros!
Where to sleep in Bologna?
At this question I cannot give you an answer, simply because I lived there and I don’t know any hostel. I remember though, that my friends stopped to a very very nice place (I don’t know if it was a hotel, hostel or B&B) from 18th century and they payed $70 for a double room. Booking.com, Hostelworld.com, Expedia.com or Tripadvisor.com should be always used to compare prices and offers 😉 Couchsourfing is another poss ibility, just make sure the person you choose has good reviews and is safe.
I hope that my review about Bologna is interesting enough to make you want to go and discover this amazing city.
For those who want to know more about the city, please go here.
Travel safe and wise!