In our previous post on Bologna we were not able to discuss the many important traits that make Bologna a truly great city to visit.
Fortunately, one of our reader was kind enough to share his knowledge with us. Below you will find our translation.
I’m a travel agent born and raised in Bologna. I now live near Parma, another wonderful city in the Emilia region, where I run a travel agency that deals with incoming tourism in our beautiful provinces of Emilia Romagna.
Besides what it’s been written here in the travelogue about Bologna, my birthplace, I need to add that this town is not only the representation of Medieval cities, but also the spirit of the Renaissance first and then of the Baroque, not forgetting its foundations in Roman times. If in the Roman period Bologna was the most important crossroad of the famous Via Emilia, together with the roads leading to Rome, the city is nowadays one of the main motorway and railway junctions connecting the North and South of the Italian Peninsula.
The stunning Medieval, Renaissance and Baroque buildings fill the old town centre. The Gallerie Comunali , the town art galleries, rich of masterpieces of the Bolognese School of the ‘600s, the Egyptian Museum, one of the most important in Italy, and the Civic Museum with its Roman and Medieval finds are cultural gemstones. Other places of interest in Bologna include the Museo della Tappezzeria (Museum of Tapestry), the Town Theatre – a Baroque masterpiece of the Bibiena brothers – and its many churches, proof of the period of domination of the papacy on the town, such as the wonderful Basilica di San Domenico, with its Arca di San Domenico (Ark of Saint Dominic), a Renaissance masterpiece containing the remains of the Saint by Nicolò dell’Arca with contributions of young Michelangelo.
The old Gothic Basilica di San Francesco, with its external arcs, is home to the sepulchers of the first lecturers and teachers of the glosses of Roman law of the Alma Mater or Studio – as the oldest and most renowned university of Europe was once called. The first site of the University was the Palazzo dell’Archiginnasio, right in the centre of the town, above the Loggiato or Porch of the Pavaglione, on the side of the Piazza Maggiore, a unique architectural complex enriched by the outline of the unfinished Basilica di S.Petronio, the city’s patron saint. The Basilica was meant to become, in the intentions of the authorities of those times, the biggest church of Christianity, but competing against S.Peter’s in Rome, it was left unaccomplished without funds by the Popes.
Bologna is known as the “Dotta”, the educated one, as a reference to its historical university and the “Grassa” for its succulent cuisine started in the Medieval and Renaissance periods, rich in tasty specialties widespread and copied all over the world but hardly equaled. First courses range from the famous green and white lasagna, in all its different versions, to the Tagliatelle al ragù (fresh pasta Tagliatelle in Bolognese sauce) and the masterpiece of the unequalled tortellini, inspired by the female navel, served in capon broth, in ragù with béchamel sauce or fresh cream, or stuffed with sweet-bread and truffles in pastry. Second courses range from mixed fried fish, stuffed cutlet, mixed boiled meat and sauces. The traditional and famous specialties, which you must taste in one of the many old beautiful trattorie or traditional inns of the old town, or in the renowned modern restaurants, are themselves worth a visit to Bologna, you should try at least once each of them.
The area offers the chance to combine food tasting to wine tasting; try one of the many white fresh, sparkling, red or white wines that emphasize the succulent taste of the culinary specialty. Visit and taste Bologna, enjoy your trip and bon appétit!