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Erasmus, Lost in Bologna

Bologna, the magical capital of the Emilia-Romagna, located in the north of Italy, is the university city of excellence in this country and the city of excellence for any Erasmus student. It is named Bologna, the scholar, for having the oldest university in the west, founded in 1088. Among its more prestigious students are characters such as Dante, Copérnico or Erasmo of Rotterdam. It is also assigned other names such as Bologna the Fat for its amazing gastronomy. Or Bologna the Red, a city that during sunny days, turns the colour of fire due to the reddish and orange colour of its roofs and facades but above all, it is related to the fact that it has been the central axis of the communist party.

But one day, this city will probably have another nickname: Bologna L’Erasmus. Its similarity with cities such as Granada or Salamanca in Spain, can make us understand the amount of young people that flood Bologna. And for and due to this, there are many diverse events, it is almost impossible to be on the sideline of it all. Concerts, expositions, social movements, festivals and a lot of parties. All wrapped up in the unique atmosphere of the streets, with their own personality and characters that are hard to forget and will always remain faithful to the streets of Bologna.

Its geographical location makes it one of the most important points of transportation in Italy, which is very important when it comes to tourism. Its train network is fantastic. You can be in Verona, Venice, and Florence in roughly an hour and a half. Milan and Pisa are two hours by train. The only place that is further away is Rome, which is four hours by train. For everything else, the airport is 15 minutes from Bologna, and with the company Ryanair you can find cheap flights.

What to visit?

Simply walking though the streets in Bologna, becomes a lesson on interculturalism. If it is true that you can hear Spanish every day, on any corner of Bologna, then different languages dominate. From Pakistani, English, German, French and even Italian!

You need to explore every corner of the city so that you can find the 7 secrets of Bologna, which definitely have to be experienced in person. But meanwhile, we can get lost in almost 50km of porticoes, including the portico of San Luca, which links the city to the basilica church at the foot of the Apennines. Also worth mentioning is "Le due torri", the Basilica of San Petronio (which was supposed to be the largest in the world) located in the beautiful Piazza maggiore, the arch-gym, the street Via Zamboni, the street around the universities, San Francesco...

When it comes to traveling around the city, you can choose from:

The bike: be careful here because you can get really cheap bikes (€20-€30) either in the most honest way, through the bike auctions, or through illegal sales on the street, 'Via Zamboni'. Anyway, you will see that the city is bombarded with bikes.

The bus: Which offers a wide timetable network (there is even a night bus that runs until 5am). Not here, that by being dishonest you can get on the bus completely "free".

The motorcycle (used very often) and the cars, are for the more privileged. It depends on what kind of friends you have. Anyway, an Erasmus student would never be, and you should know that walking through Bologna is a spectacle for the eyes, as long as the weather is good.

This is where the cities biggest problem comes in, the weather. In Bologna, there is an unfortunate truth in the phrase “6 mesi d’inverno e 3 d’inferno” (6 months of winter and 3 months of hell). The winter is hard. It is a cold and wet city although the rain is not a problem thanks to the thousands of doorways. And the summer is really hot. April and May are the best months in the city.

Where to go to eat?

We have already seen that the name of the city gives it away. In my opinion, it is worth going to try 'Cucina bolognese'. Pasta al ragù and tortellini are typical of Bologna. If you allow yourself to go to Osteria Dell’orsa, they have some great typical dishes at a good price. They also make 'mortadela' (Italian sausage) and parmesan cheese. For dessert, the spectacular ice cream leave no one unmoved. If you can, go to la Cremería on the street via Mascarella. And of course, pizza is the inseparable companion of the Erasmus student (Pizza Casa or Pizzeria Due Torri are recommended).

Anyway, don't forget to experience the appetizer culture (antipasto). From 18:30 or 7:00, the bars turn into free buffets where you only pay for drinks.

In terms of drinks, the undisputed Lambrusco and Sprizt (a typical aperitif drink). Then Grappa (orujo) or Sambuca (a kind of aniseed).

The nightlife?

You can go out every day of the week. Especially Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday.

You can not go on a night out without going to:

- Malazeni and Zammù: For lovers of good coffee, good music and art. These two cafes belong to the the same owner. They are a pleasure for the eye and taste (their appetizers are among the best in town at a very affordable price).

- Millenium: For Thursday nights, amazing indie-rock club.

- Contavalli and Soda Pops: For Tuesday nights from 9-10 and 10-11, you can have all the free sangria you could imagine. Only for Erasmus students!

- Café Paris: The best shots at just €1 (Don't forget to try the Rume&pera)

- Cassero: A club with a great atmosphere (very good music)

- Corto Maltesen: Club/bar

- Discoteca Kinki: Interesting offers for Erasmus students

-Vecchieti: A bar whose name I still can't remember, located in Aldrovandi Square. Great antipasto from 19:00 to 21:00 for only €1, all the pizza you can imagine.

- Birreria del Pratello: On Wednesday nights, Happy hour is from 10 to 12.

- La Banda de los médicos: On Friday nights from 10, there is a place in Strada maggiore, where a group of medical teachers play covers of rock songs. Non-profit, only and exclusively for the pleasure of good music. You can bring your own drink.

The language?

Easy, fun and beautiful. Don't miss out on the opportunity by only going out with Spanish people. If you come to another country, completely mix with the culture, it is a unique experience.

Internal and external communication?

Internet is always a good tool, don't leave your laptop in Spain, make a Skype account and talk for free with your parents and frees in Spain. In Italy, the answer is simple, buy a sim card from the company Wind. All Erasmus students use this company. For one year, your calls and messages are free to all other Wind users for €8 per month and calls to other networks are cheap.

Where to live?

Definitely in a flat. Halls in Bologna are expensive and although at the start it can seem like a good way to get to know people. In the long run it is unnecessary because people in Bologna you meet people every day. On the other hand, for the first days in Bologna most of the Erasmus students usually stay in the San Sisto hostel (very cheap) or in a Bed&Breakfast. Besides, halls usually have quite strict rules about times.

In terms of a flat, they can be 'singolas', individual rooms (€350-€400) or 'doppias', shared (€200-€250). At the beginning of September and February the streets of Bologna are covered in thousands of advertisements for flats, especially Zamboni. The cheapest areas to live are always further from the centre or outside of the city walls. Anyway I would always recommend that you look for somewhere on the street Via Mascarella.

Bologna is incredible and unique, it is a city of change, because it changes everyone who's ever been in it. It is magic and you will feel it when you walk down its streets. And it's different, every day is different, because every day you discover a new story of the city, a new person, an unknown secret. My expectations were exceeded to an extent that I would have never believed possible. In one word: Dazzling.

Finally and for those who read my day to day Erasmus experience, here is the link to my blog \"Lost in Bologna\" http://erasmuslostinbologna.blogspot.com/

Erasmus, Lost in Bologna


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