La dotta, la grassa, la rossa (the learned one, the fat one, the red one) Bologna gets called all three because of its university, its delicious food, and its red roofs. We spent two wonderful weeks there in early November, met some wonderful people, found some great restaurants, great markets, wonderful wine & drinks and had one hell of a good time.
Bologna reminded us of one big university campus and with students graduating, the party was on with overflowing bars and crowded piazzas.
One of the first things you’ll notice when walking the streets of Bologna is the graffiti. A lot of it is political and quite ugly but we did see a few interesting and artistic pieces mixed in.
A major part of Italian life
Food is a major part of Italian life with Emilia-Romagna being the epicenter and Bologna being ground zero. It’s no wonder when there are amazing ingredients everywhere you turn. It often happens that when we’re looking for one thing, we will stumble onto something even better. In this case, it was Le Sfogline, a great little pasta shop run by two sisters, where we watched the ladies behind the counter making Bologna’s famous egg pasta tortellini.
Another great stumble upon was Ruggine, a funky looking bar we passed by several times and vowed to return to. When we did we liked it so much we returned several times.
And then there are the markets, the Quadrilatero, there since Roman times, the Mercato Delle Erbe, the Mercato di Mezzo, Mercato Della Terra and all the other weekly markets offering a great variety of product from fruit and vegetables to meat, shoes, clothing and toiletries.
Lucky for us
Lucky for us the annual chocolate festival took over Bologna’s main piazza, Piazza Maggiore, while we were there making it too easy to completely overdose on some of the best chocolate Italy has to offer.
Night time wandering doesn’t get much better than the alleys of Bologna either and its beautiful architecture and endless porticos make walking for hours a treat.
Thankfully just when the mayhem of city traffic and pollution would have you heading home there is always a quiet church piazza or park to slip into for some peace and quiet.
The city is musical and you hardly walk a block without hearing street musicians plying their trade. It gives the city a wonderful soundtrack from accordions and violin to bucket drummers and full-on bands. Bologna has a thriving music scene, thanks to the university, and their annual jazz festival which will be worth planning a trip back to attend.
Bologna Welcome Cards
We had two Bologna Welcome Cards to enjoy the museums and other sights and after looking at our schedule, our only free days were Monday and Tuesday. Most museums being closed on Monday we tried to plan other things and leave the museums for Tuesday. Arriving at the first one they wanted us to pay full admission even though we had the card because they had a special exhibit. The next one was closed and the third had half the museum under construction. Disappointed, we decided to climb Asinelli tower. My acrophobia got the best of me and after arriving on the first platform I had to slink back down the stairs to safe ground. Tim had no choice but to go the distance alone to admire the great view and of course, take a few pictures.
Madonna di San Luca
The one thing I absolutely wanted to do while in Bologna was walk the longest portico to the sanctuary of Madonna di San Luca. So on an overcast Saturday morning, I dragged Tim up the hill. When we got there everything was wrapped in a thick fog but while we walked around the fog started clearing and hills and houses started appearing in the distance.
Bologna is a great city, waiting for you to jump in and discover it.
Disclosure: Bologna Welcome gave us two city cards to enjoy the sights, the opinions in this post, as usual, are our own.