Archive | August, 2010

The Red, the Learned, the Fat

30 Aug

Three of a handful of epithets that have been applied to Bologna throughout history. Hundreds of adjectives apply, but these three stuck, and here’s why.

Reddish-orange buildings topped with red roofs fill the city center. The only real variation is the shade: yellowish-orange facades to crumbling reddish-brown brick. The buildings are all about three stories, and they line narrow streets that extend away from the central piazza like spokes. This all makes it very easy to get turned around, which isn’t such a terrible thing.

Bologna also has a history of being very left-leaning and was a stronghold for the Italian Communist Party for much of the period following World War II. It has since drifted more toward the center, but the name remains.

The University of Bologna has the honor of being the oldest existing university in Europe. Founded in 1088, its alumni include Dante, Petrarca, Copernicus, and Marconi, as well as a number of important figures in the Catholic Church.

More personally, I’m one of only three non-SAIS significant others surrounded by 204 students pursuing their master’s degree. Their resumes and travel histories are long and impressive; these are the people they’re talking about when they say “The youth are the leaders of tomorrow.”

Finally, this region has a reputation for making good food—according to even Italians. It is the breadbasket of Italy, and everyone’s seen Bolognese sauce on a menu at an Italian restaurant. And while Naples can claim pizza and Neapolitan ice cream, Bologna takes credit for rich lasagne, meaty tortellini, and cheesy tortelloni.

And I’ve got an oven again, so there will be baking!