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Last updated : Nov 2009
 
Bologna Travel Guide
Bologna Travel Guide and Bologna Travel Information - TravelPuppy.com
Ask most people to name the first Italian city that comes into their head and few will pick out Bologna. That suits Bologna just fine. While the tourist hordes clog up Florence, Rome and Venice, Bologna remains relatively tourist free, letting the locals enjoy one of the highest standards of living in Italy .

Founded by the Etruscans as Felsina, on the Po Plains in 600BC, the northeast Italian city and was renamed Bononia by the Gauls, and whose French overtones still can be heard in the local dialect. Bologna came to worldwide attention with the founding of the university in 1088, when two thousand students from all over Europe poured into the medieval commune. Porticoes supporting additional lodgings sprung up all over the city, to accommodate the influx of newcomers and Bologna’s leitmotif was born. Today, 40km (25 miles) of ochre-hued arcades still shadow the streets with covered walkways that give Bologna its unique style.

The heart of Bologna is around the twin piazzas, Maggiore and Nettuno – a handsome public space surrounded on all sides by medieval palazzi and the hulk of San Petronio. Here, along with the pigeons, the Bolognese come to shop, to pray, to chat and, of course, to demonstrate. Not just for the ochre colouring of the medieval buildings in the fading evening light is the city known as ‘Red Bologna’, with socialism and communism a major feature of life in Bologna, ever since determined partisan resistance in World War II. It comes as no surprise to learn that Bologna was the first Italian city ever to elect a communist council. The well-educated citizens of Bologna have never been afraid to voice their opinions and immerse themselves in all things cultural – a feature of civic life recognised in 2000, when Bologna was named a European City of Culture. Recently the former stock exchange has been converted into Italy’s largest multimedia library, in keeping with a city that well deserves its tag of La Dotta, The Learned.

In Bologna, a social conscience and cultural knowledge go hand in hand with a hearty appetite, with the city fully justifying its other moniker, La Grassa, which translates literally as The Fat, a reference to the seriousness with which some of the locals take Epicurean pursuits. It is something of a favourite joke among the Milanese and the Romans that only at mealtimes do the Bolognese fall silent. The local cuisine goes far beyond the world famous spaghetti bolognese (something the locals never eat – they call the sauce ‘ragu’ and would never mix it with spaghetti), with a wide range of culinary delights culled from the surrounding countryside, as well as some robust and interesting local wines.   Although summers are hot and generally dry, winters on the Emilia-Romagna plains can be quite cold affairs, with January being particularly inhospitable. The climate is moderate in spring and autumn, with few tourists, and these are the best times to visit, although even at the height of the season, tourist numbers seldom become too suffocating. In July and August it can be unbearably hot and stuffy and this is a good time for day trippers to head to the breezy Adriatic beaches which are less than an hour away.
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Bologna Tourist Information Informazioni e Assistenza Turistica