Having stayed in Bologna just about a week now I managed to experience the first joys and of course worries of the Erasmus student experience.
The city itself-a gorgeous and full of life metropolitan paradise, with an extreme variety of local shops, markets and cafes that fill up the narrow but picturesque streets. Wherever you are the aroma of either freshly made café or baked goods will follow you mercilessly. In the very typical Italian spirit no one is every in a hurry (with the exception of the Glasgow uni students :D) and the sounds of many church bells echoes every hour announcing the time.
I still have so much to explore but here are some of the most important things you have to know about Bologna:
The gelato is something that you can eat all year round and in Bologna you can find many gelaterie-all different and with their own methods of preparation. There are many that I can recommend even though when it comes to gelato all opinions are very subjective.
Gianni and Gelateria Grom are indeed two very good choices that you simply can’t go wrong with, but a personal favorite would be the Cioccogelateria Venchi, where as you can guess from the name the specialty is chocolate! With over 10 varieties of chocolate ice cream and of course many other more to choose from, this gelateria is definitely a must. It is located near the Piazza Maggiore at Via degli Orefici where the atmosphere of the old city center is just making your gelato experience even better!
Historical places to see:
Bologna’s old medieval city center is a lovely place to go for a stroll. Famous for its over 40 kilometers of arcades or portici, give the city an elegant look but also conveniently protect form the harsh sun and the rain!
Of course, the towers! Bologna is very famous for its high towers- the Asinelli’s tower and Garisenda’s tower build at the end of the eleventh century. From the top of the towers you can enjoy a panoramic view of all of Bologna and the surrounding hills.
The lovely Piazza Maggiore with the stunning basilica of San Pietro and the beautiful fountain of Neptune are also a must! Located at the heart of Bologna, the piazza is a fifteenth century fairy tale. Often used for fairs, spectacles and concerts it really serves its function of bringing the whole city together.
Shops: Bologna is a small city and believe it or not in the city center there are no malls. But shops can be found all over the city- from high designers boutiques to little local workshops that can tailor for you everything that you want. On via Indipendenza you can find your major market chains and if you’re feeling more adventurous there is a flea market on piazza dell’8 Agosto that sells literally everything and it’s the student’s dream.
I mention supermarkets because if you are a student studying here you would want to know these things! Now the only bad thing about living in the city center is not having big supermarkets (which are inevitably cheaper that the small ones). Anyways Coop (the Italian Tesco) is not necessarily your best choice. If you manage to find a big Pam or even better Lidl, consider yourself fortunate! However, even if you don’t happen to live near one do not despair, all hope is not lost! In Italy, especially in the smaller cities like Bologna, fruit and vegetable shops (or fruttivendolo) are very popular and they have prices sometimes better than the ones at the supermarkets. And also Chinese stores!!! OMG the best thing that a student can ask for. They can be a bit hard to spot sometimes because they are not as glamorous as the other stores you’ll see on the streets but holly lord are they awesome! Be sure that everything that you need you can find it there: from soap to extension cords to notebooks, everything!