Universities, Arts & Culture

An educational view on Italy

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Why is Bologna called fat, red and educated?

Bologna is also known as La Dotta (the educated), a nod to its university, the oldest in Europe.

Here’s an introductory guide to Italy’s beautiful historic city of Bologna that’s set in a medieval grid and is often described as one big cloister due to its riches of arches, colonnades and elegant piazzas. The rich Roman history is evident everywhere.

Aerial view over Bologna

Considered among some of the most important landmarks are the Fountain of Neptune, Santo Stefano Bologna, and Bologna Cathedral. The ultimate symbols are the Bologna Towers, two of which (Due Torri) are leaning landmarks dating back to around 1109. Way back when, Bologna had more than 100 towers but it remains a mystery why the rich used to build so many.

Piazza Maggiore in Bologna

Be sure to take in Piazza Maggiore, the main square in the heart of town. It has been considered the hub of political and social life since it was first built in the 1200s making it one of the oldest in Italy. Home to the Palazzo Comunale and filled with cafés, it’s the perfect place to savour a cappuccino and gelato and consider the fact that this place was once home of the capital executions and Europe’s biggest open-air market.

Eating out in Bologna

The birthplace of mortadella sausage, ragú, tortellini and tagliatelle, Bologna has serious credentials when it comes to cuisine, boasting one of the richest reputation for food in all Italy. One reason Bologna earns one of its nickname La Grassa (the fat one) must have something to do with the great food! It’s pretty easy to find really excellent dishes at budget prices too.

Student life in Bologna

Bologna is also known as La Dotta (the educated), a nod to its university, the oldest in Europe. And, La Rossa (the red) refers to its history of left-wing politics and the red bricks of its historic buildings.

Getting around Bologna

Bologna is a compact city with much of it walk able, especially because there’s an authentic sight around every corner. It’s a good idea to pick up a local bus timetable for bus routes; an affordable and efficient way to tour the city. Taxis ranks are everywhere. If in doubt, ask your hotel accommodation reception for help with public transport tips.

Where to stay & when to go

There are plenty of good quality places in stay in and around Bologna from budget hotels to 4 or 5-star hotel accommodations. It’s a fairly popular destination for most of the year, but is great during spring and autumn when the weather is warm but not scorching. In August, many Italians go off for their own vacations so much of Bologna closes up.

Photos CC – Giuseppe Costanza, Matteo Paciotti, Michele Ursino (flickr)

3 Responses to Why is Bologna called fat, red and educated?

  1. James12 says:

    What year the university was founded? Thanks

  2. Showtime94 says:

    It was established in 1088 actually. I’m proud to be one of the students of this University.

  3. Laura Fenati says:

    I was born in Bologna and I live here. As to our University, it is the oldest in the world not only in Europe

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