Visit Bologna by Mouse
Bologna (Web site) (locator) is the capitol of the region of Emilia-Romagna in the north of Italy. It is 243 miles north of Rome, 68 miles north of Florence, 133 miles southeast of Milan, and 97 miles southwest of Venice. We visited for only an afternoon, and had we known some of what we know now about the city, we would have stayed at least another day. Although it was damaged during WWII, much of it remains intact as it was before the war.
There are at least four things about Bologna that are interesting, at least to us. One is that there is a University there. Not just any University, but, as the Wikipedia article claims, the "oldest continually operating degree-granting university in the world, and the second largest university in Italy." Its birth has been traced to 1088 AD, and that means it is more than 900 years old. Among the names who are listed as having studied or worked there, we recognize the poet, Dante Allighieri, the humanist Petrarch, the astronomer  Nicholas Copernicus, the artist and mathemetician, Albrecht Durer, the martyred former Archbishop of Canterbury, Thomas Beckett, the writer, Giovanni Boccaccio and the inventor of the telegraph, Guglielmo Marconi.
 
There is a second interesting and mysterious thing about the city that we did not know when we were there.  There were at least 200 "medieval defensive towers".  Twenty of them are still standing, or rather sort of standing, because some lean pretty steeply.  We did not see any of these when we were there.  Had we known about them you can bet that we would have taken a look.  They are mysterious because no one knows the reason why so many were built.  The Wikipedia article about Bologna in the link above has an old engraving showing what the city towers looked like in medieval times.
A third interesting thing about the city is that it is, and has been for quite a while, decidedly left leaning as far as its politics are concerned. It has sometimes been referred to as Bologna the Red. Nevertheless it is an important business center and many of the businesses reflect the leftward complexion of the city's politics. Fifteen thousand cooperative enterprises are important contributors to the city's GDP, according to The Times On-Line.
 
Fourth, Bologna is in a region famous for its food preparation.  It is difficult to get a bad meal in this region.
Finally, it is worth mentioning that Bologna is a great city to walk around even in the rain. In fact, it is perhaps the greatest of all cities. There are 45 kilometers of porticos, i.e., covered walkways, in Bologna.
Photos of Bologna, including of some of the porticos, are available on the internet, here ,here, and here.
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