Bologna is the city of towers also called the “learned”, the “red” and the “fat” and, so far, nothing new. But have you ever wondered what is so beautiful in Bologna besides a plate of tortellini (in broth) or one of the oldest universities in the world?
1. The arcades
Bologna is much more than some famous monument that the Emilian capital can show off to the world. Bologna from July 2021 has finally seen its infinite kilometers of arcades (38 + 15) recognized by UNESCO which has included them in its exclusive list of world heritage sites.
The arcades of Bologna are not only a typical architectural beauty of the city, but also a monument for the citizens who have always felt “protected” by them
Imagine being able to visit the shops in the center and go shopping on rainy days without worrying about bringing an umbrella while 38 km of arcades in the historic center will cover you. And if you want to take a nice walk up to San Luca, here too you will find other arcades starting from Porta Saragozza and then from the Arco del Meloncello to the Sanctuary.
2.The culinary tradition
I cannot deny, however, that Bologna has a great reputation for its rich and delicious culinary tradition and, if like myself you have had a Bolognese grandmother, you can only confirm everything and add more.
Those who come to visit Bologna expect to find excellent lasagna, traditional tortellini and maybe even the typical mortadella of the city. Over time, the tradition has become somewhat lost, in the sense that lasagna with green pasta, béchamel and Bolognese sauce, with slow cooking from the time of our grandparents, have given way to some slightly more “neglected” and rapid.
Tortellini, which in the Bolognese tradition should be prepared strictly with broth or in the variant with cream, have been “raped” with some sauce or even with meat sauce.
In the city there are excellent restaurants, but also some “tourist traps” which, as in every city in the world, exist and survive the purpose. Personally, I find the farmhouses a little out of town very tasty, but as an inveterate traveler that I am, I understand that without a rental car or a good network of public transport, it is difficult to get anywhere.
3. The hills
While we are on the subject of travel. If you come to Bologna you absolutely cannot miss the Bolognese hills (yes! Those of Cesare Cremonini’s song called “50 Special”).
The Bolognese hills are the greenest part of Bologna and the area where the richest people of the city usually live. In spring and summer it becomes a bit of a destination for everyone to find some lawn to relax and cool off with the air of the hills, while in the evening many go there to admire the city with the lights of the night.
Tradition has it that bringing your partner on the hills is not a good omen and probably after this event the couple will separate. I don’t know how true that is but, for some it “worked”.
4. Monuments and legends
In Bologna there is water.
If you want to see it with your own eyes, all you have to do is walk along via Indipendenza (the shopping street in Bologna) and when you are about halfway through, look for via Piella, a small street parallel to it. Here is a window (or a bridge on the opposite side) where you can see an underground canal of the city. With a little patience you can also take some photos (there is often a queue of people). Some argue instead that Bologna is empty in its subsoil and nothing is enough to make it sink. For this reason we cannot think of a subway line or underground works of a certain importance.
The university tradition has instead two important (among others) myths about the city: If you are a student in Bologna, it is bad luck to cross Piazza Maggiore (the one in front of San Petronio to be clear) diagonally and it is not recommended to climb the two Towers until you graduate. I know people who have tried to dispel these myths and still got the coveted degree, but it depends on how superstitious you are to decide what to do.
You can always ask Neptune for advice first and … who knows who won’t answer you!
5. The sea
If you are born or come to live in Bologna then you will end up falling in love with the sea and Romagna.
The sea is not that of the Caribbean but the people are wonderful and you can eat like God here too!
Rimini is an hour and a half away by train, the Ravenna Riviera (Cervia, Milano Marittima and Cesenatico) about eighty kilometers away, while the Ferrara coast and the Po Delta, a little further away but always excellent for a weekend or a day trip.
The sea of Romagna for the Bolognese (but also for all Emilians) is a must that cannot be missed in spring and summer. The piadina, the beach, the trips in the pine forest, the evenings out and … the long queues on the highway on Sunday to return …
But it’s always worth it …
6. Car and motorcycle
If you are passionate about motors, Bologna and a large part of Emilia Romagna are good fertile ground. Arriving at Marconi airport you will already notice how important Lamborghini is in the area. A 640 horsepower Huracàn Evo with the inscription “follow me in our beautiful Country” whizzes through the runways of the Bologna airport “piloting” the airliners towards the gates. But it does not end there, because next to one of the entrance (or exit) doors of the airport you will also find a small space with two Lamborghinis on display and a small shop dedicated to the car manufacturer from Sant’Agata Bolognese..
In the museum Lamborghini instead there is the story of the founder Tonino Lamborghini and his engineering works. From the beginning, when he started creating tractors, then moving on to cars: the Miura, the legendary Countach and much more.
Borgo Panigale is home to one of the most famous motorcycle manufacturers in the world: Ducati. Here too you will find a large dedicated space with museum and Factory .
A few tens of kilometers from Bologna you reach Modena, where the heart of other Italian supercars beats. The best known is undoubtedly Ferrari. In Maranello there is the test track for the Formula 1 single-seaters and one of the two museums(the other is in Modena not far from the train station) which contain the whole history of what is the tradition of one of the most important car manufacturers in the world.
If you were not satisfied yet, you can go to the Imola racetrack where the formula 1 circus has returned for a couple of years. Near the Tamburello curve you can also find a bronze statue dedicated to Ayrton Senna who lost his life here in an accident in 1994.
7. The scents of the city
Bologna has a different smell for every corner of the city or the province you walk through.
The scent of roasted chestnuts at Christmas along via Indipendenza or that of pizza by the slice in front of Altero.
Bologna smells of alcohol at night in the university area or dog piss (will they be dogs?) Under some porch.
The scent of hot croissants in the morning at 6.30 in via Carracci that I never understood where it comes from or the smell of the basement of the central station.
Bologna smells like the evening in the hills. So much so that one would want to get out of the car even if it is already late just to breathe and smell that beautiful scent of nature.
Bologna smells of burning fireplaces, of Christmas holidays and, when summer arrives, even of torrid asphalt …
… but above all … Bologna smells like home …