A Foggy Day in Bologna, the City With the World's Oldest UniversityFriday, December 16, 2016
Earlier last month I decided to buy my friend Julia tickets to Bologna and take her there on a day trip for her birthday as neither of us had ever been and wanted to explore more of Italy. Bologna is in Emilia-Romagna, a northern region of Italy which is the home of many Italian foods (balsamic vinegar, parmesan cheese, proscuitto & tortellini) and Italian cars (Ferrari, Lamborghini & Maserati, to name a few). It is also home to the oldest university in the world (established 1088!) and famous for its towers and porticoes (covered walkways with columns) so we hopped on an early morning train and made our way up there... stopping, of course, firstly at a café (called a bar in Italian) to get some colazione (breakfast) Italian style aka coffee & croissants.
Remember kids - cappuccinos only at breakfast time and definitely not with your lunch! After we had properly fuelled our bodies up for a full day of sight-seeing and exploring we headed to the Piazza Maggiore, one of Bologna's most famous, central squares, to discover that there was a chocolate festival going on! How lucky that we had booked our tickets to come this day? They had everything chocolate: hot chocolate, slabs of it, waffles, crêpes... it was hard to resist.
We then made our way to a nearby park, Il Parco Della Montagnola, Bologna's oldest park dating back to 1664! It was so beautiful and autumnal (we went mid-November) that we just had to take a bunch of pictures. It reminded me of this funny thing that I saw on instagram which said something like "English people: autumn, from the latin autumnus. American people: fall because the leaves fall." It cracks me up every time.
*Queue cheesy autumn photos*
|Some of Bologna's traditional filled pasta|
|Left: la Torre Garisenda. Right: la Torre degli Asinelli.|
|Saint Petronius of Bologna|
It is decorated with twelve famous doctors including Hippocrates, a Greek physician born in 460 BC also known as the "father of modern medicine", all the way through to Gaspare Tagliacozzi, an Italian surgeon born in 1545 who was the pioneer of reconstructive surgery (including nose jobs!). In the middle of the room you have a marble dissection table and by the teacher's desk you have two spellati (skinned men).
Before the Archiginnasio was built, lessons took place in private or rented properties and sometimes in the piazze (the squares). With your ticket you can also take a peek into la Biblioteca comunale dell'Archiginnasio (the Archiginnasio Municipal Library) which has more than 500,000 texts and 12,000 manuscripts, making it the best equipped civic library in the country. I have to say that it was pretty cool to roam the halls of the old university - they are absolutely beautiful and definitely worth seeing for only 3 euros!
The theatre was almost completely destroyed during the Second World War, like many things were, but thankfully a lot of the original pieces were found amongst the building's rubble so it was able to be reconstructed in the original way. Although it was damaged you wouldn't be able to realise it when you visit the room and you can almost imagine the dissections which took place under candlelight.
That concludes our Bologna visit! Even though it was foggy and a little bit rainy we really enjoyed ourselves and thankfully Bologna has a whole system of porticoes which means that you can explore the city and not get wet (or you could just bring an umbrella).
Getting to Bologna from Florence is very easy and I would recommend taking the train, either Trenitalia or Italo. We used Trenitalia for both journeys and going there the regional train took 1-2 hours, whereas la Freccia (the fast train) took a little over half an hour. There are loads of stations in Bologna so make sure to choose "Bologna Centrale" when buying your tickets and enjoy your day! If you're staying in Bologna for longer you could visit some of the other places in Emilia-Romagna. Taste the traditional aceto balsamico (baslamic vinegar) from Modena or explore Parma, where the beautiful Italian parmigiano reggiano is from (parmesan cheese).