Nicknamed as 'la dotta' (the learned one) and 'la rossa' (the red one), Bologna is an ideal city for studying, dining, and discovering.
By J.M. Towers
Bologna is a beautiful Italian city rooted in the Renaissance. The fact that it is not as visited as other Italian cities of the same size—such as Florence, Verona, and Naples—seems incomprehensible.
Located in northern Italy, in the Emilia-Romagna region, Bologna is known by three names: the Red, the Fat, and the Learned. Red, because of the color of its roofs, steeples and towers, and also because it is one of the great bastions of the Italian Communist Party. Fat because its cuisine and products are some of Italy’s best: pasta Bolognese, remarkable wines and liqueurs, great cheeses, and the famous local mortadella, undoubtedly the best you will ever taste.
And finally, it is called Learned because the University of Bologna is the oldest in the Western world. It was founded in 1088, and its Statutes were signed in 1317. It is among the world’s leading universities and served as inspiration for other renowned centers of learning such, Oxford, Salamanca and Cambridge.
The city of Bologna is steeped in Renaissance culture.
Fountain of Neptune.
Some of Europe’s most brilliant philosophers, artist and scientists studied there: Thomas Becket, Francesco Petrarch, Pope Alexander VI, Desiderius Erasmus, Copernicus, Enzo Ferrari, and Giorgio Armani, among others, leaving an indelible mark in the city of Bologna.
Today, thousands of young Italians and foreigners study in his iconic university. Those who receive a doctorate from this institution—following a tradition that dates from the Middle Ages—adorn their heads with olive leaves and take a walking tour of the city’s most emblematic churches to thank God for their achievement.
Piazza Santo Stefano
The historic center of Bologna is the second largest in Europe after Venice, but you can quickly cover it from one end to the other by foot. The most prominent features are the elegant and extensive porticoes that make the city famous. There is a total of some 40 kilometers of porticoes in the city’s historic center, allowing people to walk for long distances sheltered from the elements. Do not miss the opportunity to look up and enjoy the beautiful and ancient pictorial motifs that adorn many of the porticoes and colonnades.
The soul and center of the metropolis are the Piazza Maggiore next to the Fountain of Neptune. From here you can walk to the university, take a stroll through its various cloisters and visit the Archiginnasio, which was— for a long time— the headquarters of the old school. The Torre Degli Asinelli and Torre Della Garisenda—at least 300 feet each—were built in the early 12th century and are also symbols of the city.
Food and vegetable market.
Bologna is famous for its galleries and colonnades. It has more columns than any other city in the world.