Two days in Bologna, Italy

A part of traveling is meeting new people from diverse backgrounds who enrich your self-being and refresh your sense of the world. The only downfall is we all move on to new settings, we grow, we change, our paths take us down individual roads, some easy to navigate and some winding with tricky obstacles to overcome. But we find ways to re-connect through penciled greetings, phone calls full of reminiscing or PJ face times. Eventually, friends will always find a way to catch up.

I called Austria home for a year and a half. Staying in one place for so long allows time to connect with people some of which I still call friends today. Keeping in touch after leaving can be hard when you’re living separate lives and my way of remaining linked is to plan an international catch up in Bologna.

Why Bologna?

Usually, when I decided to visit a new place it’s because of the architecture, the history or because it is so beautiful I need to see it with my own eyes. This time, however, our motivation was each other. We combed Google flights for quick and cheap options and came up with Bologna.

Who are you when you’re at home?

A city of grit and elegance with lofty colonnades, Bologna has an edginess fused with a medieval grid of tight passages leading to piazzas full of buskers and fashionistas escorting photographers carrying glamour weapons.

The nicknames bequeathed by the local’s service to describe the city wholly. La Grassa (the fat) is one of three monikers which refers to the cities rich food culture. ‘Grassa’ alludes to the variety and abundance of cuisine and not the calories. This I can attest to. Typing into our phones to ask the all mighty google search for the best places to eat was unnecessary. The city holds a tagliatelle of restaurants for you to choose from.

On one of the uncountable narrow streets is Marsalino. A snug bistro painted blonde with a semi-circle bar to hang out at. We grabbed a bite to eat here settling into one of their mint green doubled up tables. Our chosen dishes from the brief menu filled our bellies with tasty nutrition and greek cheese.

A vegetable plot of trendy sprouts, wired in students and seasoned artists lounging in a former zoo that housed two lions in the ’80s to become greenhouses which were abandoned, and now a cool restaurant and co-working space called Vero. We discovered Vero through another Bologna visitor named Azizzi. The food prepared in the kitchen is harvested from the greenhouses and garden. There something very appealing known exactly where your food has traveled from. The interior is a co-working space by day and dinner service by night. I recommend reserving a table as the restaurant can only accommodate a small number.

The ice cream dessert was handmade fresh by Chef Lulu who is originally from Germany and moved to Italy to learn how to make ice cream.

Italian gelato is famous and I can understand why. The flavours are as vibrant as the colours of this creamy dessert. Cremeria San Francesco is one in a herd of gelateria around Bologna. Behind the array of silver pots lies the kitchen where the gelato is freshly churned, a welcome change from boxed ice cream of home.

La Rossa

The second of three nicknames the city is branded with is La Rossa (the red). Climb high above the rooftops to unveil the archaic terracotta buildings embossed with miles of porticoes. It is also because of their partiality for left-wing views.

La Dotta

La Dotta (the learned) refers to Bologna’s university – whose Latin name, Alma Mater Studiorum, means ‘nourishing mother of studies’.
It was founded in 1088 and is the oldest university in continuous operation.

Garden Giardini Margherita

A hub of activity with everyone indulging in the open space for cycling, skateboarding, balancing acts and intoxication.

Park and Garden Parco di Villa Ghigi

You can reach the park by bus or lumbering up a vertical hill sharing the route with passing vehicles. It has been open to the public since
1975 and managed by the Villa Ghigi Foundation since 2004. Home to many exotic trees including downy, oaks, black hornbeams and a centuries-old Himalayan cedar. If not for the landscape then for the views is reason enough to make the journey.

The discovery of a bee farm. They warmed around the beehive opening, their buzzing like music coordinating a symphony of movement.

Basilica of St. Francis

Not just a Basilica but a favoured hangout for locals just across from Bar De’ Marchi, a beloved bar in the city. As told by a local ‘ If you are looking for someone, they will probably be there’.

The Pincio stairway 

The spectacularly sculpted stairway to the Montagnola was designed by Tito Azzolini (1837-1907) and Attilio Muggia (1850-1936). The stairs are decorated by sculptural reliefs and statues inspired by the history of Bologna.

Bologna is a small city will a lot of life. There are plenty of sights to occupy your time and the people of the city are especially friendly. The city resides along a train line to Florence, Milan, and Venice, the perfect base for Italian exploration.

Jess x

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