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Italians love to define Bologna as a scholarly, fat and red city. The scholarly label refers to the site of the world’s oldest university (1088). The fat label alludes to Bolognese food, with its tagliatelle and tortellini. Finally, Bologna is a red city because of the colour of its houses and also thanks to the political traditions of the city’s administration. Bologna is also a city of porticos, which stretch for nearly 40 kilometres in the city centre, and of the Garisenda tower, the only real leaning tower in Italy (the leaning tower of Pisa is in fact a bell tower). As an Etruscan settlement, Bologna later became a Roman town (Bononia). During the medieval period, the city developed into a free commune which reached the peak of its power in the 13th Century. Despite falling under the control of the Papal States in the 16th Century, the city maintained legal and political autonomy.
The centre of Bologna is one of the best conserved in Europe, and it is full of beautiful palaces and churches packed with art works that bear witness to the cultural importance of the city over the centuries. The historical city centre is also considered to be one of the largest in Europe.
Bologna is renowned for its rich cuisine. You should at the very least try mortadella (a sort of salted pork meat) and tagliatelle (handmade noodles) with meat sauce and lasagne, which, by the way, was invented in this city.
As a student city and as the symbol of the good life, Bologna is well known for the efficiency of its services and the welcoming nature of its people, who are somewhat envied for their joie de vivre. What better place to do the same than at one of the many cafés of the city.
Thanks to its large university population, Bologna has a lot to offer when it comes to nightlife. The bars in the centre quickly fills up with locals and students during the aperitivo time (usually between 6.30 pm to 9.30 pm). Aperitivo plays an important role for both young and old and is without a doubt one of the most fun food and drink experiences you can have in Italy. Just sit back by the table of a traditional trattoria and have a glass of wine and some tasty food that Bologna is famous for while chatting with friends. After aperitivo, the young university crowd continues the evening by heading over to one of the many discos or clubs. Some of these clubs stay open late into the night, some even until 4am, making them the perfect places to dance the night away.
Italian fashion and food should be the key themes for Bologna’s visitors. There is a reason Italy is one of the main fashion nations, and browsing the windows in Galleria Cavour, just ten minutes on foot from Piazza Maggiore, will make you see why. Here you can find Armani and other main Italian brands, such as Gucci, La Perla underwear and La Maison Bulgari jewelleries. Other fashion shops are located all around the centre of Bologna, mostly in Via Farini, Via Ugo Bassi, Via Indipendenza and under the Portico del Pavaglione. For food, try Tamburini and the most famous Bolognese delicatessen. Here you can feast over an impressive variety of salted pork meat, cheese, pasta and wine. Another nice shop is Atti (bakery and fresh pasta) at Via Drapperie, 6.
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