Last week's visit to Bologna was nothing short of perfection. I took a two hour bus trip from Grosseto to Firenze and then a 35 minute train from Firenze to Bologna. I happened give myself a two hour layover in Firenze to take a stroll across the familiar city, but that's a post for another day. Once I arrived in Bologna, I was met at the train station by some friends and they took me on a tour through the city before stopping for proper pizze. We did some more sightseeing before we retreated to their home to relax. An incredible dinner of spinach & ricotta tortelli was prepared with sides of fruits and cheeses. Followed by an apple pie with gelato for dessert. Of course I had to eat well in the "foodie capital of Italy."
La dotta, la grassa e la rossa
Bologna has a well-preserved historical center (one of the largest in Italy) thanks to a careful restoration and conservation policy which began at the end of the 1970's, due to urban demolition at the end of the 19th century as well as the world wars. An important cultural and artistic center, the importance of Bologna can be attributed to its architecture (medieval towers, antique buildings, churches, the layout of the city) as well as art. Bologna is known for many things. It is the capital of the Emilia-Romagna region, it has more towers than any other European city (and possibly more arches), it is a central hub for European travel, it is a 2006 UNESCO "city of music," it is home to the oldest university in the world and oh yeah, food.
La Dotta (the Learned) because Bologna is home to the oldest university in continuous operation, the University of Bologna. It was founded in 1088 and today it is the leading university in Italy for Sociology,Political Science and Humanities. It is also the most international universtiy in Italy, bringing eighty thousand students to the city every year. It is easy to notice their presence at the number of bars, pubs, shops and ristorante.
La Grassa (the Fat One) because Bologna can stake a strong claim to being the heart of Italian cuisine. Ragu (bolognese sauce) was first created here. The sauce was originally used for tagliatelle pasta, another creation of Bologna. It is also the home of mortadella, toretelli and lasagne.
La Rossa (the Red) originally referred to the color of the roofs and walls in the historic center, but this nickname is also connected to the political situation in the city after World War II. Until the election of a center-right mayor in 1999, the city was renowned as a bastion of socialism and communism in particular the Italian Communist Party.