Bologna, Italy is the capital of Emilia-Romagna in Northern Italy. The province of Bologna, the equivalent of a county in America, has slightly over 1,000,000 residents making it the 10th largest metropolitan area in Italy. Rich in history, Bologna is well known by Italians but remains relatively anonymous to foreigners. Over the centuries Bologna has come to be known by locals and foreigners alike by three distinct nicknames:
LA DOTTA (The Learned):
Amongst europeans Bologna is famous for it’s taste in high culture and education, stemming largely from the University of Bologna. “UniBO” is home to nearly 100,000 students and, having been founded in 1080AD, is considered to be the oldest university in the western world. Since the entire city grew up around the university, the culture of Bologna places a high premium on education and the pursuit of knowledge.
LA GRASSA (The Fat):
Considered to be the bread basket of Italy, Bologna’s geography and makes it famous for it’s cuisine. The birthplace of tortellini and mortadella (the gourmet mother of simple bologna), Bologna also specializes in various pastas like lasagna, and is the capital of the region that produces balsamic vinegar, prosciutto di Parma and parmesan cheese. Quality, fresh and fine foods are at the center of bolognese culture so it’s no surprise that the residents are well fed.
LA ROSSA (The Red):
Go to Google Maps and look up Bologna. Notice anything? Basically every roof is made of red terra cotta. That along with the classic colors of the buildings like those pictured in the pictures below have contributed to the nickname “La Rossa.” But that’s not the only reason Bologna is known as “The Red.” The city has a history of left-leaning politics and has long been the center of italian communism. Since World War II, the local government has been dominated by the Italian Communist Party and the city is still host to constant and almost countless protests fueled by the large student population.
In addition to all of that Bologna is the center of the Motor Valley and is home to such automotive giants as Lamborghini, Ferrari and Maserati, not too mention the local passion that is Ducati.
With all of these attributes it is no surprise that in 2011 Bologna was ranked as the highest quality of life in Italy. It is also not a surprise that the global crisis has caught up to city. In the past few years as people from all over Italy and even all over Europe have flocked to Bologna looking for a better life the city has struggled to keep up. Over run by graffiti, a growing homeless population and a rising crime rate, many bolognesi are falling into a sense of despair. The Italian population has been crippled in recent times by hopelessness and Bologna, once a center of hope and progress, has fallen victim.