ITALY, Sep. 2008

Photos © Ruud Leeuw

In September we drove down to Italy and visited some cities in this beautiful country.
Bologna was the first place we visited, because this is where our son has found a temporary home; he guided us through the narrow streets in the historic center and found us excellent dining locations.
Bologna is a beautiful city, has a thoroughly fascinating history, is not overrun by tourists all year (e.g. Firenze, Lucca) and the food is simply exquisite..!

Click on the thumbnail images to view a larger image


Bologna's historic district is ideal for walking; that is if you managed to find a spot to park your car!
The small streets invite an 'exploring attitude' while the large towers provide good landmarks.

I came across an advertisement on the internet for a walking tour (English-speaking guide) on the subject of "Brothels and Bordellos of Bologna"; we did not take that tour, learned about it afterwards, but it stated 'Bolognese women are famous for their beauty' and I can testify to that!
Brothels and Bordellos were legal in Italy until 1958. This subject is under discussion again in Italy, aiming to reinstate the 'Houses of Sinful Pleasure' to reduce the abundant street prostitution.

Torre Uguzzoni We walked until our feet hurt.. Fortunately there are plenty of nice restaurants to take a break.

For 'a break' one can also go inside a church.

We visited the 'Basilica di San Martino Maggiore', stumbled upon it and were very impressed. It is located not far from the Central Station and the University (Google Maps link, Via Oberdan)
A marvellous, splendid church, this Basilico di San Martino Maggiore. We, much alike other visitors over past centuries, felt the need to whisper, though we were the only visitors. Awe inspiring.
There is an enclosed gallery and we felt the presence of monks doing their rounds over centuries, their mumbled revered biblical verses still hung in the air.
We were so captivated that we forgot shops, governmental instutions but also churches, close for a few hours after 13:00 and we found ourselves locked in.. I knocked on the various doors until we found someone who could show us an unlocked sidedoor and we were back on the streets.
We were so captivated that we forgot shops, governmental institutions but also churches, close for a few hours after 13:00 and we found ourselves locked in.. I knocked on the various doors until we found someone who could show us an unlocked sidedoor and we were back on the streets.


Back on the streets
Ugo Bassi
'Give Me Hope, Not Candy'


Talk talk
Talk, talk, talk..
A moment
Waiting for inspiration

Students share information

Fevered activity by students to find lodgings

Plenty on offer but what quality & for what price


All students find themselves in similar situations

Lettere e Filosofia, Medicina e Chirurgia
The University of Bologna, founded in 1088, is the oldest existing university in Europe, and was an important centre of European intellectual life during the Middle Ages, attracting scholars from throughout Christendom. A unique heritage of medieval art, exemplified by the illuminated manuscripts and jurists' tombs produced in the city from the 13th to the 15th century, provides a cultural backdrop to the renown of the medieval institution. The Studium, as it was originally known, began as a loosely organized teaching system with each master collecting fees from students on an individual basis. The location of the early University was thus spread throughout the city, with various colleges being founded to support students of a specific nationality.
In the Napoleonic era, the headquarters of the university were moved to their present location on Via Zamboni (formerly Via San Donato), in the north-eastern sector of the city centre.
Today, the University's 23 faculties, 68 departments, and 93 libraries are spread across the city and include four subsidiary campuses in nearby Cesena, Forlì, Ravenna, and Rimini.
Noteworthy students present at the university in centuries past included Dante, Petrarch, Thomas Becket, Pope Nicholas V, Erasmus of Rotterdam, Peter Martyr Vermigli, and Copernicus.
Laura Bassi, appointed in 1732, became the first woman to officially teach at a college in Europe. In more recent history, Luigi Galvani, the discoverer of biological electricity, and Guglielmo Marconi, the pioneer of radio technology, also worked at the University.

The University of Bologna remains one of the most respected and dynamic post-secondary educational institutions in Italy.
To this day, Bologna is still very much a university town, and the city's population swells from 400,000 to over 500,000 whenever classes are in session. This community includes a great number of Erasmus, Socrates, and overseas students.
[Source: Wikipedia]


In the 11th century, Bologna began to grow again as a free commune, joining the Lombard League against Frederick Barbarossa in 1164.
In 1088, the Studio was founded, now the oldest university in Europe.
In the 12th century, the expanding city needed a new line of walls, and another was completed in the fourteenth century.
In 1256, Bologna promulgated the Legge del Paradiso ("Paradise Law"), which abolished feudal serfdom and freed the slaves, using public money.
At that time the city centre was full of towers (perhaps 180), built by the leading families, notable public edifices, churches, and abbeys.

'Giardino della Montagnola'is rather more of a public park than an actual garden. Paolo Canali started the project in 1662, as a place for social interaction. It was further expanded by Giovanni Battista Martinetti (I love these names..) with sculptures by Pascuale Rizzoli & Diego Sarti.

From the steps one can see the ruins of the city wall

Just an impressive door

Piazza Maggiore is obviously the main square in Bologna. It was created in 1200.
It is reputedly one of the finest squares in all of Italy. The square is surrounded by the Palazzo dei Notai, the Palazzo d'Accursio, the Palazzo del Podestà and the Basilica of San Petronio.
While walking it is almost impossible not to end up here.
Adjacent to the Piazza Maggiore is the Piazza del Nettuno, with the Neptune Fountain by Giambologna (1563-67). Life of Bologna centers around these two adjoining squares (both pedestrian precincts).
While the sun sets, Bologna puts itself in the spotlights and becomes even more enchanting. Walking around, the galleries (or 'porticos') become evident. This town has over 40 kms of covered walkways and they say you don't have to get wet if it rains and you are walking without a raincoat or umbrella!

A portico is a porch that is leading to the entrance of a building, or extended as a colonnade, with a roof structure over a walkway, supported by columns or enclosed by walls. This idea first appeared in Ancient Greece and has influenced many cultures, including most Western cultures.
Bologna is famous for its porticos. The longest portico in the world, about 3.5 km, leads from the edge of the city up to Sanctuary of the Madonna di San Luca.
[Source: Wikipedia]
Bologna by night
Over the centuries, Bologna has acquired many nicknames: "the learned one" (la dotta) is a reference to its famous university; "the fat one" (la grassa) refers to its cuisine...
Bologna is renowned for its culinary tradition. It has given its name to the well-known Bolognese sauce, a meat based pasta sauce called in Italy ragù alla bolognese but in the city itself just ragù as in Tagliatelle al ragù.
Situated in the fertile Po River Valley, the rich local cuisine depends heavily on meats and cheeses. As in all of Emilia-Romagna, the production of cured pork meats such as prosciutto, mortadella and salame is an important part of the local food industry.
Well-regarded nearby vineyards include Pignoletto dei Colli Bolognesi, Lambrusco di Modena and Sangiovese di Romagna.
Tagliatelle al ragù, lasagne, tortellini served in broth and mortadella, the original Bologna sausage, are among the local specialties.
And we dined well, our 'student/guide' leading us to various restaurants where we ate to our heart's delight! I even tried 'Stinko al Forno' and did that taste good! Bellissimo !!


Bologna by night
Bologna by night




Night owls

The Towers of Bologna...
Bologna Between the 12th and the 13th century, the number of towers in the city was very high, possibly up to 180. The reason for the construction of so many towers is not clear. One hypothesis is that the richest families used them for offensive/defensive purposes during the period of the Investiture Controversy.
Besides the towers, one can still see some fortified gateways (torresotti) that correspond to the gates of the 12th-century city wall (Mura dei torresotti or Cerchia dei Mille), which itself has been almost completely destroyed.
During the 13th century, many towers were taken down or demolished, others simply collapsed.
Bologna Many towers have subsequently been utilized in one way or the other: as prison, city tower, shop or residential building. The last demolitions took place during the 20th century, according to an ambitious, but retrospectively unfortunate, restructuring plan for the city.
Of the numerous towers originally present, fewer than twenty can still be seen today. Among the remaining ones are the Azzoguidi Tower, also called Altabella (with a height of 61 m), the Prendiparte Tower, called Coronata (60 m), the Scappi Tower (39 m), Uguzzoni Tower (32 m), Guidozagni Tower, Galluzzi Tower, and the famous Two Towers: the Asinelli Tower (97 m) and the Garisenda Tower (48 m).
[Source: Wikipedia]


We found lodgings in a very nice Bed & Breakfast ('Magnolia', Via Andrea Costa 45) but we could stay only 2 nights having not made prior bookings. The third night in Bologna we stayed at the Albergo Centrale: a very nice room, good breakfast and in the heart of the historic district.
We looked out in the Via Ugo Bassi.



This is where we said our goodbyes and continued our way.





ITALY 2008