Saturday, October 5, 2013

Bologna: The Red City

Bologna is a surprise and delight. A city of about 500,000 people, between Florence and Milan on the main train line, and home of the oldest university in the world. It’s famous for its miles of porticoes and for its food.

Sometimes it’s called ‘The Red City’, and there’s a few reasons for this. From on high, the terracotta roofs and walls of the centro storico are, indeed, red. You can check this out for yourself by climbing one of Bologna’s medieval towers.

Red roof tops.
Keeping with the theme.
Bologna was also in the heart of communist Italy, and it still has a significant left lean politically, so there’s another meaning for ‘Red’. In WWII the city was heavily bombed because it was (and is) a transport hub and an industrial and engineering centre. This destruction and loss of life spawned an active partisan movement. On the outer walls of the Palazzo Communale today you can see the names and faces of hundreds of partisans who lost their lives, immortalised on ceramic tiles.

Red roses.
Bologna: in the thick of it..
‘Red’ might also, if a little imaginatively, refer to Bologna’s food - the place is famous for its mortadella sausage (often called simply ‘bologna’ - or, if you’re from old Brooklyn, ‘baloney’); and for tortellini, lasagna and rag├╣ - what others call...bolognese sauce.

Spag bol will never seem quite the same again.

In the markets.
Mortadella sausage.
Tortellini. It's not red, but it's good - in Bologna.

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