Top 5 Attractions in Bologna
The Two Towers - The Two Towers of Bologna were built 1109 and 1119. The tallest of the two towers named "Asinelli" reaches a grand total of 97.2 metres in height whereas the smaller tower "Garisenda" reaches only 48 metres, it originally reached 60 metres but a total of 12 metres was taken off due to the earth giving way underneath the tower. Throughout the ages the towers have served an incredible diverse purpose to the people of Bologna. they were a symbol of power and of standing of the family who owned the tower when they were built and served to supervise the city and the citizens by the noblemen. In more modern times they were used by scientist to conduct experiments on earth's gravity and rotation, and during the World Wars to keep an eye out for bomber planes and to direct help to the areas where the bombs fell.
The Canals of Bologna - It may not be Venice, but it's certainly a surprise to find that there is an intricate network of canals running underneath Bologna, visible in very few places and often forgotten by many tour guides. This use of water would push Bologna to be classed among Europe's greatest cities. The canals allowed for multiple things to occur that would ultimately change the face of Bologna. It allowed multiple bread mills to rise and maintain an ever growing population, it reached 60,000 citizens by the end of the 700s, a quite substantial population in those days. It allowed Bologna to become the European centre of silk weaving of the highest quality and also allowed the Bolognese to acquire incredible naval knowledge leading them to beat the "La Serenissima" (as Venice, the European naval superpower was known) in 1271.
The Portici - over 40 km of arched walkways spread throughout the city in the most incredible way. By law they were ordered to be made 7 "Bolognese feet" high (2.66 metres), in other words high enough for a man on horseback to pass comfortably, a decree that was respected in most of the 40 kilometres of portici apart from in the poorer areas of Bologna. Most of the portici were originally constructed in wood around 1288 and in 1568 came the order to convert them into stone. It is still possible to see some of the original wood structures from 1250 in Strada Maggiore. Often decorated with wonderful frescos and family crests of influential families the portici of Bologna offer the most glamorous protection from rain and snow and too much sun, making them loved by art lovers and simple citizens who never have to buy an umbrella as well.
The People - The city is very much a University city, attracting over 80,000 students every year from around the world the city comes alive around them. The streets both in summer and winter are filled with musicians playing jazz, Bologna's favorite genre of music which lead it to being announced by UNESCO as a City of Music. In the summer you can spot artist paining in the shade of the portici due to Bologna's extensive art scene. And as always the presence of students (especially art and music students!) leads to prices being lowered to accommodate this very large portion of Bolognese community. Therefore it is very easy to find high quality goods for much cheaper than in many other Italian "art" cities such as Florence, Rome and Venice. The people of Bologna themselves are much more free thinking and open to change than any other city in Italy I have ever seen. Due to the traditional "red" political background of the city and also, I believe, due to the energy that only an incredible number such as 80,000 students can bring to your town.
The Food - The food is perhaps the most internationally recognized aspect of Emilia-Romagna. The region has made so many contributions to the international food scene and is considered by many Italians (if you are not Italian you probably know that it is difficult for Italians to agree on anything) the food capital of Italy. Parma has many great hams, most notably Parma Ham and not forgetting Parmigiano Reggiano. From Modena we have Balsamic Vinegar. And from Bologna we have tortellini, tagliatelle alla bolognese (Spag Bol), lasagna and Mortadella (Bologna). There are many other regional specialities but these are the ones most likely to be recognized abroad. This abundance of quality food has probably had an effect on the way of life of the people in the region.
Article by Leonardo Careddu