The City That Exudes Happiness: Bologna
WITH ITS ELEGANT ARCHITECTURE, MOUTHWATERING CUISINE AND STRESS-FREE SHOPPING, BOLOGNA BRINGS A SMILE TO VISITORS’ FACES. AND NOW THE CITY IS GEARING UP TO HOST A SPECTACULAR EXHIBITION THAT INCLUDES THE GIRL WITH THE PEARL EARRING.
Cultural, gastronomic and education capital of Italy’s Emiglia Romagna region, Bologna is all keyed up these days. The countdown has already begun to the painting exhibition, “The Myth of the Golden Age from Vermeer to Rembrandt”. Set to open at the Palazzo Fava on Saturday, February 8, it will run through May 25. In fact, there are many reasons to see Bologna, for this is one of Europe’s best-preserved medieval cities. Known as “La Rossa” for the red bricks and tiles used in the construction of its mostly 17th century buildings, the city is old but it’s spirit is new. The dynamic and cosmopolitan atmosphere of this city, which is home to close to 100 universities, is immediately palpable. Founded in the 11th century, the University of Bologna is the oldest in Europe. The names of just a few of its graduates suffice to indicate the magnitude of this city’s treasure trove of science and culture: Dante, Copernicus, Erasmus, Albrecht Dürer, Umberto Eco…
THE MAJESTY OF NEPTUNE
It’s almost impossible to get lost in Bologna. Just head for the Two (leaning) Towers, Asinella and Garisenda, which are visible from almost all over the city, and you’ll arrive at the city center. For a bird’s-eye view, you have another alternative: Torre Prendiparte. A little shorter than the Two, this 59-meter tower was built in the 12th century.
Piazza Maggiore is literally the heart of Bologna. Surrounded by buildings such as the City Hall, Enzo Palace, the Biblioteca Sala Borsa, and the Basilica of San Petronio, the square also boasts on one corner a Fountain of Neptune, one of the city’s icons. You can even tour almost the entire Old Town from the square without once exposing yourself to the elements. All thanks to the ornate colonnades known as Portici. These intriguing porticos, which extend for 42 kilometers lining almost every street and connecting all the historic squares, were built to protect the city’s people from the summer sun and winter rain.
CULTURED AND APPETIZING
You can also tour Bologna by following your ears. Listed by UNESCO as a World Cultural Heritage for its long-standing musical tradition, Bologna has welcomed many celebrated musicians from Verdi and Rossini to Chet Baker and Miles Davis. An itinerary that combines musical venues such as the Teatro Communale, the Museum and Library of Music, Accademia Philharmonica and the Giovan Battista Martini Conservatory awaits you in the city.
After a delightful tour, it’s time to explore Bologna’s gastronomic side. Famous for its charcuteries, each one a cheese paradise starting with parmigiana, Bologna is also the home of Pasta Bolognese. Contrary to popular opinion, however, this quintessential Bologna dish is made with ground meat and meat sauce with no tomatoes! The Bolognese staunchly defend their tradition: “Tomatoes came to Europe after the discovery of the New World,” they say. “Our pasta is much older.” In short, Bologna is a city well worth seeing for its culture, cuisine and shopping venues. What’s more, it’s a great connecting point for exploring Florence, Venice and Milan!
WELCOME TO BOLOGNA
At a cost of 20 Euros, the Bologna Welcome Card gives visitors access to all modes of public transportation as well as free admission to the city’s major museums for 48 hours. It also provides discounts at a number of cafes, restaurants and shops.
THE OLD MARKET
A producer of world-famous makes of cars and motorcycles, Bologna is the perfect city for everything from jewelry and textiles to eye glasses and leather goods. In addition to its outstanding concept stores, it also boasts personal tailors and shoemakers who have plied their trade for generations.
A PLETHORA OF MUSEUMS
Some 50 museums await you in Bologna, including museums of modern art, medicine, music and the Middle Ages, not to mention concept cars. For more information: www.provincia.bologna.it
Learn the fine points of the local cuisine in secret recipes from the master chefs. The 6-day course starts at 93 Euros. For more information: www.bolognawelcome.it
Turkish Airlines has Istanbul-Bologna-Istanbul flights daily. Departure times are at 8:45 a.m. and 4 p.m. from Istanbul, and at 11:35 a.m. and 6:40 p.m. from Bologna. For information: www.turkishairlines.com