"Learn Italian in Bologna at Madrelingua. A family run school with excellent facilities. Competitive prices, accommodation arranged. See our web site for more information: http://www.madrelinguaitaliano.com"
Visit Bologna, ancient university city and culinary centre!
By Daniel Stephens ( email@example.com )
Bologna is a city with few tourists but with lots of things to offer visitors: a long and interesting history, a compact and well-preserved city-centre, fine buildings, museums, shops for all tastes, parks, a vibrant social life, and many fantastic things to eat and drink!
The city is known as "Bologna the learned" for its university – the oldest in Europe, "Bologna the red" for the red roofs of the city but also for its politics, and "Bologna the fat" because of its rich cuisine.
Bologna is a walled city, roughly circular in shape, with a large piazza (square), Piazza Maggiore (see picture), more or less at its centre. The city's main streets fan out like the spokes of a wheel from this central point. One one side of the city are the Appennine hills (that run right down through the centre of Italy), while on the other side there's the famous Pianura plain – an incredibly fertile flood plain which extends as far as Milan to the north and Venice in the east.
Once in Bologna, visit the "two towers" at the end of Via Rizzoli (you can climb to the top of one of them, but don't try it if you haven't finished university yet: people believe that if you do, you'll never graduate!).
From the two towers, walk along Strada Maggiore and through Corte Isolani to Piazza Santa Stefano, where you can see the famous seven churches.
In Piazza Maggiore you will find the church of San Petronio (Bologna's patron saint), the Tourist Information office, the statue of Neptune, and the modernised Sala Borsa, which was once a stock exchange but is now a library and bookshop, worth a visit because you can view the ancient foundations of the building through its transparent floor.
Bologna has so many museums that I won't even attempt to describe them. See this site for further details: http://www.bologna.museum-guides.com
For food shopping try exploring the little streets adjacent to Piazza Maggiore and behind Via Rizzoli. You will find fishmongers, cheese shops, fresh fruit and vegetables, and all sorts of other delicacies for which Bologna is famous, mostly at reasonable prices.
For lovers of designer clothes and shoes, Via Farini is the place to go! Other shopping streets to visit include Via D'Azeglio and Via Indipendenza. On Fridays and Saturdays there is a big street market in Piazza del VIII Agosto – definitely the place for those on a tight budget! In Via Zamboni, just 100 metres from the two towers, you will find Feltrinelli International, a bookshop with a comprehensive selection of books and magazines in English and other languages.
If you like walking or running you can follow the porticoed streets from the centre of town, along Via Saragozza and up into the hills to the famous church of San Luca, a local landmark which can be seen from miles away. Locals walk or run up and down the hill for exercise. For a more relaxing time, visit the Giardini Margherita (at the end of via Santa Stefano). There's a lake, a bar, and plenty of space to walk or run, or simply to lie on the grass and relax.
Finally, for those who would like to learn Italian during their visit to Italy, Bologna has several good language schools. At a modest cost students can study Italian with a native speaker teacher for 4 or 6 hours a day. Your school will also be able to arrange good value accommodation with an Italian family, giving you the chance to practise what you are studying. Knowing a little Italian will add so much to your trip!