Bologna as a Place to
Bologna has three nicknames: la dotta, or the learned;
la rossa, or the red; and la grassa, or the fat. All three are
well-deserved, and no thumbnail sketch of Bologna can do without a brief
explanation of each.
The capital of the northern-central region of
Emilia-Romagna, Bologna la dotta is a city of about 500,000 inhabitants,
including approximately 100,000 university students. The Università di
Bologna, founded in 1088, is the oldest in Europe. Eminently prestigious, it
boasts a diverse and cosmopolitan student body, since the university
attracts students from all regions of Italy and from countries around the
world. As a thriving center of student life, Bologna has a flourishing
intellectual climate and all the amenities that one would expect in or near
a university community: theater, films, performing arts, live music, and a
reportedly diehard club scene in the nearby beach resorts along the Adriatic
From an architectural point of view, Bologna la rossa
is a stunningly beautiful city in a country renowned for unparalleled
beauty. The university is located in the heart of the rather large medieval
quarter, a veritable maze of narrow, winding, portico-lined streets. The
burnt reddish tones of the building facades and the red-tiled roofs—hence,
la rossa—are characteristic of Bologna and give the city an almost storybook
quality. Today, however, the color red evokes notions of the local political
climate, for, during most of the post-World War II era, Bologna has been the
showcase for Italian Communism. Translated into early 21st-century terms,
this means a city committed to political engagement, social service, and a
brand of political awareness that seems to complement the intellectual life
of the university.
Located in Italy’s breadbasket, Bologna is also the
home of some of the finest food to be found on any Italian table. No Italian
would ever dispute the deserved preeminence of Bologna’s cuisine. Thus has
it earned the last of its three nicknames: la grassa. It is not uncommon to
find in the city’s various osterie or trattorie some appreciative Tuscan
from Florence (one hour south) or Lombard from Milan (two hours north),
enjoying some of the fabulous food for which Bologna is legendary.
In short, Bologna is an ideal destination for study in
Italy. Without the hordes of tourists that plague other cities, students are
required to negotiate the city on its terms and in its language: Italian.
With its population just under half a million, Bologna is large enough to
offer diversion, yet not so large that it suffers unduly from the kinds of
problems that often accompany life in larger urban centers.
The program will house students in university
residences with same sex Italian or International roommates within a reasonable distance of the city
center. All residences have cooking facilities.