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Incredible Bologna

Bologna is one of the most important cities in Italy due to its industrial and university activity. The prestigious University of Bologna is the oldest one in Europe, it was founded in 1088 and personages as Nicolas Copernicus, Dante or Erasmus of Rotterdam studied there. In Bologna, there are approximately 100,000 students.

In general, it is a city with a great young activity, as in Salamanca or Granada. There are lots of students, and student associations as ESN or AEGEE organise many activities: trips, discos discounts, drinking beer competition… It is advisable to join some of these organizations and to get the “Arci” card (€12) in the door of any disco; this card will let you to enter in some discos.

Places to go out that I recommend:
- Soda Pops: Pub-Disco that tries to imitate the “Coyote Ugly” style.
- Millenium: Indie-rock nightclub for Thursday evening.
- Cafe Paris: Nice place to take some cheap drinks and shots for €1
- Transilvania: café set in the Dracula’s house with a rock and metal ballroom at weekend.
- Contavalli: free beer from 9:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. for Erasmus students.
- Cassero: gay nightclub
- Kimki
- Corto Maltese
- Hobby One

Almost all of these places are in the city centre, near to Zamboni street, where there are some Università degli Studi di Bologna schools. Near there, you can see “Le Due Torri” (The Two Towers), one of the most emblematic monuments of the city, and the “Piazza Maggiore”, right beside the Saint Petronio Basilic (one of the biggest in the world). I will not say anything else about places to visit because the “Bologna secrets” must be discovered “in situ”.

Although there is not underground, the city has many regular buses. To pay the bus, you have to put €1 in a machine near to the driver. This system let you enter for “free”, but you are in jeopardy that any ticket collector asks you for your ticket, and in this case, you must pay a €40 fine.

The climate is not so kind. As a good continental climate, is cold and damp in winter and intense hot in summer. The large number of arcades which roof over the pavements are a true blessing, since they protect from against the heavy rains all along the year and from the sun in summer.

The geographic location turn the city into a nerve centre of transport in nothern Italy. The train station is one of the busiest in Europe and has many direct links with places of interest. The journey to cities as Florence or Parma lasts 1 hour in local train and to Venecia or Milan, 2 hours (but a new high-speed service has been opened and the train to Milan lasts 1 hour), to Rome, over 5 hours. For more information: http://www.trenitalia.com

Bologna is also know by its gastronomy, especially the Ragù, known internationally as “bolognese sauce”, and the sausages of the region (Emilia-Romagna) that are really nice, especially the mortadella and parmesan cheese. Pizza must not be forgotten, you can eat a big pizza with a drink for only €5, which means that pizza is a great allied of the Erasmus student, due to the difficult economic situation of the students. Ice creams or “gelati” are simply spectacular.

Places recommended to have lunch or dinner (for a Erasmus student):
- Pizzeria Pizza Casa
- Pizzeria La Bussola
- Pizzeria Due Torri
- Ice cream parlour Castiglione (Probably, the best ice cream in the world, I do not exaggerate).
- McDonald's (it is a life preserver! I know this is not a new thing, but few places are opened at 5 in the morning).

The common drinks are Lambrusco (sparkling wine), Limoncello (lemon liqueur), Grappa (wine liqueur) and Sambuca (similar to anisette).

As for the language, it is not so difficult to make you understand with Spanish or English. However, there is no harm in learning some Italian before to go there in order to make life easier.

Apartment or residence?
I personally chose apartment and the great majority of student did it as well. Of course, it is not cheap, from €220 to €400 per month even in a shared room and not including water, electricity or gas costs. But the student residences are not marvellous or cheaper either. There are many in the outskirts and the ones which are in the city centre are badly considered. If you are sociable and not so maniac, you will not have any problem living in an apartment. I recommend you to hire an apartment inside or near the city wall, preferably nearby some door. For example, if you study engineering you’d better live near Porta Saragozza, if you study Law, near Porta S. Donato or Via Zamboni. However, as I told you, regular buses are fantastic in the city centre and nearby the city wall; I do not know so much the outside.

Finally, I would like to say that I would have appreciated this information before going to Italy and, specially, I hope this will be useful for those who are thinking about going there. And if it will, I hope that you will invite me to visit the city where I spend one of the best years of my life.

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