La rossa (the red one), la dotta (the learned one), la grassa (the fat one) – these are just some Bologna’s nicknames. I like to think of this historic northern Italian city as “the arched one.” You can trace the outline of the city’s soul by walking even a few of those 40km of porticoes.
Like so many nomads I’ve been waiting to go to Italy my entire life. Of course it was to eat pasta, gelato and have my breath taken away by the exquisite art and architecture but also to wander. There are no streets in this world that I’ve dreamed of walking more than Italy’s.
Bologna isn’t the most obvious choice when it comes to picking a place to visit in Italy but that’s probably what makes it so great. Geographically speaking the city revered for it’s culinary tradition sits pretty delicious in the lush Emilia-Romagna region. A region that is the true home of balsamic vinegar, Parmesan cheese, Parma ham and of course bolognese sauce. Don’t you dare call it that or serve it with spaghetti once you’ve been to this part of the world though! Instead find yourself nostalgically remembering ragù and tagliatelle long after you’ve left.
Bologna is a short train ride away from some of Italy’s most quintessential cities: Florence, Venice, Verona and even Milan. Because of the city’s fluid connections day trips are easily had, which is why you could end up in front of the Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Fioreone one morning and Murano island the next.
There’s something to be said for shacking up for a week in Bologna, especially when your abode has a lovely little secret courtyard to bedazzle yourself with. Via della Braina is a picturesque street and there’s a charming osteria right by our house full of local favourites like tortellini.
Everyday we would take a short walk to the Piazza Maggiore where one can find Eataly, coffee, a market that’s been there since medieval times, restaurants and plenty of people to watch. A vibrant and lively mixture of students, professionals and locals will pass you by.
Post-local-lunch you simply siesta, the afternoon is dedicated to gelat o’ clock (if I now had to choose between my marriage or niccola flavoured gelato at La Sorbetteria Castiglione it would not be an easy decision) and the evenings a stroll to see courtyard patios fill up for aperitivo hour, the happiest hour in the world.
Truthfully there were times where I wondered whether I was blissfully happy because I was on holiday with Ahmed in Bologna, or because I was walking down another remarkable alleyway impressing it’s character and history upon me (or eating my way through yet another plate of mixed cheese).
Italy maybe a place for lovers to fall even more in love but we fell into a deep and committed love with Italian food, Italian architecture, the Italian language and of course the Italian way of life – all because of Bologna. As the sun set on our last night it finally sunk in that in Bolna dolce far niente is a self-fulfilling prophecy.