Tuesday Travels to Bologna

I miss Bologna (Bo-lo-nya). My second home away from home.

I learned a lot living in this quaint little city. I explored every nook there is, though I know I missed some hidden treasures. 

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Piazza Maggiore, Bologna, Italy

Here are the top 3 lessons it taught me:

1. Independence

I became self-sufficient. Though in some respect I had help. My sister’s high school friend and her family helped me navigate the city. She took me under her wing as part of her family. My Italian roommate helped me through the apartment renting process. It was tedious and frustrating, especially if you don’t speak the language. I dealt with the bank on my own (thanks to my Italian lessons, I was able to brokenly speak with the tellers). 

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drinking caffe
2. Patience

Bologna taught me patience. It almost bypassed me because I was a stubborn Americanized person who didn’t know any better. I missed integrating myself into the culture of ‘dolce far niente’ (sweetness of doing nothing).  I took years off my life by stressing out about how I only got internet service 4 months before I left the country. In the end, what I got is a slap in the face “it doesn’t effin matter, you’re in Italy for pete’s sake”. 

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dolce far niente

3. Discovery

For the most part, I uncovered the city on my own. I went to places that only locals went to. Shopped at markets for fresh and local ingredients to cook at home. Frequented makeup and skincare indie shops – I literally became obsessed with beauty when I lived in Italy. 

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bologna, italy

Ah Bologna, mi manchi tanto. 

4 Reasons to Visit Bologna, Italy

Bologna is Italy’s best kept secret and a great off-the-beaten-path destination. I had the amazing opportunity to live in this city where I experienced its rich history, diverse culture, and amazing cuisine. It is a relatively small city best explored by foot since you’ll discover more than what you came for. In the span of 9 months living here, I’ve acquired an arsenal of must-see sites, experiences, and trattorias around the city, but here are my top 4 favorites:

Explore Piazza Maggiore

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photo by Gene Espinueva

​Piazza Maggiore is the main square located in Bologna’s bustling historic center. Around here you’ll find a copious amount of historic places to visit, restaurants to gorge tagliatelle al ragù in, and shopping streets where you can find local Italian products like mortadella and black classic Italian leather flats. During my stay, I spent majority of my time in this area exploring every nook and cranny. I highly recommend visiting the Teatro Anatomico in Palazzo d’Archiginassio, a historic anatomical theatre, where students once learned and observed dissections of cadavers during their Anatomy classes. If you are an avid shopper, stroll towards the west side of the square and you’ll find 4 parallel streets filled with shops. I personally love Antica Profumeria del Sacro Cuore, a stylish fragrance emporium dedicated to only selling fragrance and skincare from less mainstream brands.

Shop around Quadrilatero

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photo by Liane Pamuspusan

Walk towards east of Piazza Maggiore and you will stumble upon an area of cobblestone streets filled with food stalls, cafes, and stomach churning delicatessen shops. Named as the Quadrilatero, this area that dates back to Medieval times used to be a place of trade and commerce. Nowadays, it is a place where foodies go to taste and purchase Bologna’s local cuisine. Stop by Tamburini to ogle, shop, and eat a selection of Bologna’s specialties, like the tortellini and mortadella.  If you are like me, and you like to browse and take pictures, walk down Via Pescherie Vecchie and you’ll meet colorful stalls of fruits and vegetables.

Enjoy the local Bolognese cuisine

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photo by Liane Pamuspusan

It is an imperative task that one must go to Bologna and enjoy the local cuisine it offers. I enjoyed one too many trattorias during my stay here, but one of my favorites is Trattoria del RossoHere you can order typical Bolognese cuisine such as tagliatelle al ragù, and crescentine with cold cuts, including mortadella, and soft cheeses like stracchino and squaquerone. If you would like to enjoy a good old cup of gelato, head over to La Sorbetteria di Castiglione or Cremeria Funivia where you’ll find a variety of gelato flavors that will suit your taste buds. 

Hike up to San Luca

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photo by Liane Pamuspusan

Have an hour or two to spare and want to burn off all the food you ate? Walk or run through the 666 “portico” (arcades) to the top of San Luca. You will get an up close view of the Sanctuary of Madonna of San Luca church and also get a breathtaking view of the city below.