First of May in Bologna

{ Bologna, Italy - 1 May 2011 }

Getting lost in the city immediately after stepping down from the train, with luggages in tow, may not be a good start. But that was what happened when we were in Bologna, after taking what we thought would be a shorter route. After walking across small back lanes, we found our hotel tucked in a small street right in the heart of the city.

la rossa - the red one

Bologna felt young and energetic, which was surprising for a city that has Europe's oldest university, the University of Bologna. Maybe, the university students gave the city that vibrant and young feel, or it could probably be the event happening around Piazza Maggiore and Piazza del Nettuno when we were there that day. The piazzas were filled with people with stalls - not sure what was happening, but it was probably some political or social event.

One of the many nicknames of the city is "la rossa" (the red one). It was coined to refer to the red roofs in the historic centre - and trust me, there were lots of red roofs and buildings! Love how they managed to find different shades of red and orange to paint their buildings.

Two other interesting buildings would be San Petronio Basilica and Le Due Torri. San Petronio Basilica is one of the world's largest basilica, but the interesting part is the unfinished facade, with the bricks sticking out! The two leaning towers, Le Due Torri, are the symbol of the city, and had been leaning for hundreds of years.


city of music

While Bologna is not one of the many UNESCO's World Heritage Sites in Italy, it was appointed a UNESCO City of Music in 2006. And true to it's name, we stumbled upon a concert in Basilica di Santo Stefano. The basilica is known locally as Sette Chiese, or Seven Churches. I simply love how everyone felt so energetic and joyful listening to the upbeat songs.


la grassa - the fat one

Yes, the Bolognese sauce is from Bologna and the city is also known as "la grassa" (the fat one) for all the famous cuisine. We were looking forward to eating all the amazing food that it is famous for and to walk along the Quadrilatero for all the market and shops.

While planning the trip to Italy, the initial plan was that we would be in Rome on 1 May 2011. However, that was the date for the beatification ceremony Pope John Paul II, and so we decided to spend the day in Bologna. Being a public holiday, we did expect some shops to be closed, but not most of them! So, we ended up eating in restaurants and cafes, rather than buying all the cheese, hams and whatnots. And, one of the best gelato we had in Italy was in Bologna!

::: Footnotes :::

{ Where we stayed } We stayed in Hotel Metropolitan right in the heart of the city. It has clean, simple design which I simply loved, and being in the city centre makes it very convenient.

{ What to eat } If you're only in Bologna to eat, I would not blame you! We had dinner in Trattoria dal Biassanot which I would recommend although we were only there for a day and did not manage to try many restaurants. One of the best gelato we had in Italy was in Bologna in La Sorbetteria Castiglione.

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