As a small little city with authentic Italian history, Bologna sure captured my heart in a minute. It was one of my favourite city during my trip in Italy. Most people skip the town but I found this has so many inheritances and beautiful architecture with amazing history behind it. The town was chill, loose, super friendly and full of local tourists. Of course, if you are a big fan of the Bolognese sauce, this is the the birth city of that tasty meal. Yum! Therefore I have put some list of Bologna guide and tips for you who wants to come here!
I am glad that one of my friends from the LPDP scholarship entered the university here. She was my host plus my tour guide in Bologna (Thanks a lot, Egie!). As she takes culture studies on her course, we have so many things in common; we both love artistic and historical building, and that’s why she took me to so many wonderful places here. She pinned point many things that I should do and I would like to share the tips that she gave me too. Hope you have a chance to visit this town too. Cos it sure didn’t leave any regrets!
Travel Guide and Tips to visit Bologna, Italy:
Check in at the Comune
As Egie said on my first day arrived in Bologna, ‘You need to check in at the Bologna Comune first’. Then I asked what Comune is and found out that it is the township office where the administrative division works but also a public space for the people in the town. Thought that it was something serious, of course I got stiff about it. But hey, turns out it was not as serious as it sounds.
The outdoor place was so spacious and so many young people hang out there (because of the free wifi too). The stairs to get to the place was even made for horse to be able to get up. Getting inside the building, I had good knowledge about the town and saw many beautiful interior with paintings instead. So one of the must thing to do; check in to the Comune! 😀
The Seven Churches
It is unusual to see seven churches that were made to connect with each other. Each church has the different character, a different timeline that shows the ages of the churches and amazing architecture. You can see the roman writings on the wall and there is also the museum that collects the fragile ancient objects that will make your jaw drop. It was a very interesting visit!
I even came here twice with Egie when our friend, Bram, showed up. Taking the tour twice won’t hurt right?
Taste the famous Bolognese
People in Italy know the Bolognese sauce as ‘Ragu’ which means meat based sauce. They called it Bolognese because it seems easier to pronounce and connect it with the town name. So, Egie took me to this franchise restaurant in Bologna that has an inside supermarket where they sell the pasta. And geez. There are so many pasta in Italy that I never even heard of!
And of course, you gotta have to taste the original Bolognese!
The Two Towers – Due Torri
This is the famous tower that symbolised Bologna! You can see that one of the towers is already a bit lean down (I am just so scared that it will fell down on me!). Since it is the highest point around Bologna – 70 m, the towers had been light struck and set on fire couple of times because of the thunder. Gosh!
Seeing the architecture with red bricks and old woods, you’ll know right away that it has many ancient histories from the year of 1109. One cool fact is that these two towers are the inspirations for the Lord of The Rings movie and also the Two Towers in U.S. Didn’t expect that!
Egie told me that it has some myth among the university students; apparently, students will not pass the university once you got up there to the top of the towers. Which is the reason why she had not been up there :D. Luckily I, the next day I got my exam marks and the result is.. I passed. Yay! So of course, without further ado, I went up there by just paying 3 Euro.
But damn.. that spooky 498 steps of long stairs…
The view was quite amazing though after 1 and a half hour to go up (with so many stops and waited for the other people to pass through). This was the highest point where you can see all of the Bologna city with mountains and streets. Pretty cool eh!
The Eldest University in the World
Bologna also famous because of the fact that it was listed as the eldest university. There is a museum inside the university where you can get into to get the history details, but I took a chance to look around the university and feel the atmosphere (feel like students again!). As the place is quite spacious and was around the streets, there were plenty of students sitting in the hall. Some of the places I have been being pretty traditional and has that old book smells which is comforting!
Trying to imagine how to study here… I asked Egie about how she felt of studying in the eldest university in the world, and she answered that she felt very special at the beginning (Come on, this is the most ancient campus!) but then, after you got into the class where everything got so modern; it felt so ordinary :D. Still, It would be an honoured to study here!
The Cool Libraries
I had a chance to take a peek at the public library called ‘Biblioteca Salaborsa’ at Piazza Maggiore and it has gorgeous architecture even though it is quite modern. No wonder many people likes to hang out here, oh.. and they have the coffee shop inside too!
The oldest library that the University has is called ‘Biblioteca dell’ Archiginnasio’. The entrance of the library was quite small and most people missed it, but when you got inside.. I don’t ever think I have ever seen a library quite gorgeous like this. I mean seriously.. how can you focus on your works when there are so many marvellous ornaments in front of you!
There are so many another old library with an amazing interior, sadly I didn’t get a chance to look at the others. But even these were already breathtaking!
The ‘almost’ Biggest Church in Italy & The Meridian Line
Egie told me the history of this Cathedral, which is quite a pity; it was supposed to be the largest Cathedral in Italy but since the Vatican city intend to build the largest one (St. Peter too), they decided to stop building the Bologna Cathedral. It was quite a shame – you can see that even the exterior of the building is not even finished.
One of the unique things is that the Meridian Line was passing through this place too; they even put floor glasses on the line and some zodiac to see check if ours were in there. This was the very unique thing that I saw after visited the Greenwich Planetarium in London. Sadly they didn’t allow me to take pictures inside of the Cathedral 🙁
See the city at night
As Egie told me that young people often just hang out and chill on the streets, we did the same thing one night at Piazza Maggiore. Gosh, the view was mesmerising! I learned one thing though after travelling for quite some time; any city can look pretty different at night.
Strolling under Porticoes
Another cool thing that you should do is take a stroll below the Portico which means the ancient porch that can only be found in Bologna in Italy. Most of the building around the streets has portico and has a different kind of characters. There was one street with the most beautiful portico and turns out it was in front of the Bank!
Went around the Piazza Maggiore, I realised that the city uses red bricks for their wall – which reminds me of England. The town has so many small alleys with cafes and places to eat. I also notice that the people was more relax, friendly and like to socialise a lot, which made me feel super comfortable here. As some of my friends said ‘Countryside is always better than the big city’.
So that’s it! It was a blasting 3 days of going around in Bologna and I am sure that I have only seen the little bit of it. I really want to come again one day, explore what the city has to offer more and more. But overall, my first impression of Bologna was super fabulous!
p.s: Thank you Egie for sharing your second home! Let’s hope that more Indonesian can visit Bologna (and you of course :D) and feel the same Bolognese passion as I do!
© 2017 Writing & Images copyright of Marina Utami.