Travel Bologna - Game of Life - Postcard 28

Unable to venture out and see first hand the city that surrounds me, I decided to give myself a history lesson on the city that is often overlooked by tourists. This city is Bologna.  What most people don't realize is that Bologna is full of youth. It thrives on the students from the university located in the heart of the city. The University of Bologna is over nine hundred years old, making it the oldest university in Europe. It houses a hundred thousand students in which eighty thousand of them live in the city.

University of Bologna

Bologna has many places scattered through out the city where you can find a combination of students and tourists congregating at cafes and diners.  One of these places is the Piazze Magiore, it's the pedestrian square. Piazze Magiore is the oldest part of the city and is completely surrounded by shops and cafes. Many street performers and musicians find their way to the square to perform for money. Among the shops and performers you will also find Palazzo Comunale which is the town hall and a musuem.

Piazza Magiore

Two of the largest historical landmarks in Bologna are the towers. These were built in the twelfth century from different families as a status for wealth. They began building them with the competitive nature to out do one another. The taller of the two is Torre degli Asinelli (Tower of the Asinelli) sitting 330 feet high. You can go inside this tower and climb the 498 steps to the top for a wonderful panoramic view of the city.  The second of the two is Torre degli Garisenda (Tower of the Garisenda) sitting 162 feet high. This one is not open to the public due to its poor building structure. The Torre degli Garisenda was actually much taller but the top half had to be removed as it became unsafe with its severe lean. Still to date when standing before these towers you will stand in wonder as they seem to defy gravity. The towers were built about twenty feet apart from one another. Below is an old photograph, one of the only ones I could find that really showed the lean.

The towers symbolizing family wealth

If its shopping you prefer, you will find many well known labels as well as smaller boutiques lining the streets in Bologna's shopping districts. The city has many local manufacturing companies allowing the local designers to keep the cost of their products low for the common tourist. Many of these local designers can be found at the flea markets in La Piazzola, which take place every Friday or Saturday come rain or shine.  One thing to know about shopping here is that most of the stores are closed on Thursday.

Flea Market in Bologna

The city of Bologna is built for rain, which you will notice through out the entire city. If you're out shopping and bad weather happens to greet you, you will find yourself in the clear as the city has built in awnings at every store front. These are called Porticoes and they cover over forty miles of the city streets. Back when these buildings were being built it became a mandatory construction code that Porticoes be included on every building and designed to connect to the next. 

The summers in Bologna tend to get very hot, in fact most of the locals leave in mid August do to the heat.  Many shops, restaurants and museums will also close during this time, as the town becomes slow. In the summer you will find more than just heat as Mother Nature attempts to cool off each day with light showers, again making the architectural design of the porticoes very efficient.  

Porticoes

Many museums fill this city with culture and art. Everything from history to science to art can be found at different museums like the Archaeological Museum to Palazzo Poggi Museum.  There seems to be a museum for everyone here. If its art you're into you may find yourself standing in the Palazzo Comunale or Civic Museum of Ancient Art. 

Palazzo Comunale the town hall and museum

If its cars or motorcycles you fancy, you will be happy to know that the original Ducati factory is here. This factory has now been turned into a museum, capturing and displaying the progression of Ducati over the years. And for the Italian car lovers, don't overlook the Ferrari dealerships that carry some of the first edition styles in the latest car trends that are yet to hit the states. In 2005, the Bologna Motor Show unveiled an exclusive Ferrari, dedicated to a select group of its most exclusive buyers.

Ducati Museum and Ferrari dealership

Tucked between Milan and Florence, many overlook Bologna as a 'must see town' on their tour of Europe. But with well preserved historical landmarks, a plethora of shopping and endless options for good food, I suggest you make the stop. After all it's only an hour train ride from Milan or Florence. If anything stop in for lunch and a little shopping and just maybe the town will enchant you to stay longer.

   

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