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Bologna: The heart of Italian culture and food
December 27, 2015, 10:07 am

From beautiful historical arches to fabulous delicacies and music in open spaces, Bologna in Italy is a city worth a trip. The city will transport one to the medieval-era with its culture, music, food and even industries.

The brick-colored buildings and the statues of those who played an important role in the city’s history, rise high over cobblestone streets. Street musicians entertain in the open spaces, making passersby’s stop and admire their tunes; the smell of Parmigiano Reggianocheese wafts through the streets and markets, while a myriad of chocolates, especially dark chocolate, beckons customers from shops lining the streets. While the rest of Europe produces black truffles, Bologna is famous for its wild white truffles that grow in the fall.

With a unique character, this Italian city attracts increasing number of tourists each year, and the city’s airport, which currently has a capacity of 7.5 million passengers a year, is now planning on increasing this number.

Here are some of the attractions that visitors enjoy in Bologna and neighboring areas:

Bologna City Centre: This includes the main square and the university district, where one of the world’s oldest universitiesis located. On the ceiling of the university’s main building the names of countries from where students have come to study are carved in amazing colorful images.

Food market:Weaving your way through the stalls at the food market, your appetite is bound to revive. Cafés and restaurants sit comfortably among the stalls of fresh vegetables and fruits, along with stores that sell fresh fish and sea food, cheese and mortadella.

Climb a tower: Bologna has some high rising towers to display. One of them is the Prendiparte Tower, which dates back to the twelfth century and which was once a defense towerthat was later turned to a prison. The current owner, Matteo Giovanardi explained that he himself lived in the tower for nearly seven years between his first and second marriages. Currently, he is renting it out to interested tourists. The picture-post-card view from the tower of a scene reminiscent of medieval era is definitely worth the climb of nearly 300 narrow wooden and stone steps that lead to the top. 

Visit motor valley: If California has its Silicon Valley then Italy’s Modena is the Motor Valley. Nearly 20 minutes by car from the city centre of Bologna, it houses companies that make some of the most luxurious and sporty cars in the world, including Maserati and Ferrari.

Panini Museum in Modena:This is a privately-owned museum by the Panini family of Modena that gives a glimpse of some of the most fascinating automobiles in history. It houses tens of old cars, mainly Maseratis, motorcycles and trucks.

Castello Monte Vibiano in Umbria: Set aside a whole day to visit the massive olive orchards owned by Monte Vibiano, the company well-known for providing olive oil bottles in first and business class of reputed airlines. Monte Vibiano CEO, Lorenzo Fasola Bologna, hosted us to a traditional meal during olive oil squeezing season, offering toasted bread slightly soaked with freshly squeezed olive oil and eaten with cheese and boiled lentil.

When in Florence: Thanks to its efficient transportation infrastructure, going to Florence by train takes only half an hour. The city has several attractions, including museums and Michael Angelo’s statue of David. The Salvatore Ferragamo Museum offers a glimpse into the life and legacy of the famous Italian designer.

Leather school in Florence:A visit to the Leather School might convince you to learn the art of making leather products. Some of the products from the School include the late American president Eisenhower’s desk and late Princess Diana’s jewelry box.

Mosaics workshop:A visit to the privately-owned workshop inside the ancient hospital of San Francesco de’ Macci offers spectacular scenes of traditional art and technique used to produce the stone-based art work.

Souvenirs to collect: Chocolate and cheese, especially Parmigiano Reggiano, pasta, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, ready-made fresh sauces, jars of white truffle, leather products such as wallets, purses, jackets and shoes.

 Jumana Al Tamimi

Courtesy of Gulf News


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