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Bologna – Europe’s #1 College Town

Bologna photofor website

Written by Mary Hutti

Street life is the name of the game in Bologna, with people pouring out of windows, doorways, and scattered throughout the various piazzas. The heartbeat of this authentic Italian city runs through the pavement and onto the sidewalk. The best way to understand the culture and people of Bologna is to experience it; and in a town that fancies biking and walking over any other means of transit, it is not hard to immerse yourself into all that Bologna has to offer.


“La Grassa” (The Fat)

It is no secret that the Bolognese like to eat, and they do it well. Known among Italians as the food capital of Italy, the city is a foodie’s best dream. From tagliatelle al ragu to a refreshing afternoon aperitivo there is no shortage of new and delicious dishes to taste. In Bologna, food brings people together, and it is a reason to connect with others. They are proud of their culture, and they express a lot of this pride through preparing and sharing a meal with others. Split a meat and cheese board at the renown Quadrilatero market, or  dip into your favorite flavor of gelato at Cremeria Funivia. No matter what you choose you cannot go wrong. So get your fork (and taste buds) ready, because Bologna is ready for you!

“La Rossa” (The Red)

Bologna is rich in history. They get this name (La Rossa) in reference to the red terra cotta roofs that line the city. Seen best from the top of the Asinelli tower, you can experience a piece of Bologna’s past as you climb the steps to the top (all 498 of them)! From this birds-eye view of the city you are able to see just how active the Bolognese are. With a number of various festivals each year, including film, music, art, and chocolate, Bologna has become a destination for many travelers. Additionally, the city is home to shops, markets, museums, and much more that keep visitors and locals entertained all year round.

“La Dotta” (The Wise)

Home to the oldest university in the western world, The University of Bologna, the city is crawling with students. As a result, the atmosphere is young, hip, and always moving. You can find locals perched on stoops, sidewalks, and at local bars enjoying time with their peers. Our program gives students a unique opportunity to get to know these young Italians, as all of our residencies are in Italian dormitories or apartment buildings. Through structured events, such as our Italian/ English speaking partner program, and unstructured events, such as conversations in the cafeteria and study rooms, our students are able to befriend the Italians and see both Bologna and Italian culture through a different lens.


It is no surprise that Italians and tourists alike boast Bologna as Italy’s best kept secret. It has a never ending list of things to do, food to enjoy, and culture to experience. Our connections throughout the city, through internships and service opportunities, keep students engaged and expose them to the society, politics, and economics of the city. Students gain an understanding of the Italian way of life allowing them to compare their experiences abroad to their relatives back home.  This is a crucial step in allowing a student to turn a simple semester in Europe into an experience that will shape the way they view and understand both the world and their own communities. Because of all of this and more we are happy to call Bologna our home.

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