Bologna has three soubriquets – la dotta, la grassa and la rossa. The city is dotta (learned) thanks to her university founded in 1088, and is grassa (fat), in the sense of bountiful, because of her extraordinarily rich cuisine. Finally Bologna is rossa (red) and although this once referred to the red tiles of her rooftops, and the stunning earth colours of her walls, it also came to mean her politics, since the city’s local government was strongly socialist/anti-fascist from the second world war to the brink of the millennium.
Reds, oranges and yellows compose the palette of this city, from the ancient high art of the church complex of Santo Stefano…
The other remarkable feature is the city’s 38 kilometres (at least) of porticoes. Rapid urban expansion in medieval times led to a fashion for building the first floor out upon wooden supports (later replaced with stone columns). Citizens exercised their right to use these covered walkways; an edict of 1288 insisted on porticoes for all new buildings, high enough for a man to ride under them on a horse.
Today you’re more likely to be on foot, and grateful for shelter from rain or sunshine. But however you explore Bologna, its rich earth tones will warm your soul.