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Bologna: the city of a gazillion porticoes

The very first things F and I noticed, as our taxi took on the streets of Bologna, are the warm colours of the buildings which help the city earns its nickname of Bologna la Rossa – Bologna the Red, and the astounding number of porticoes. Strangely enough, there isn’t a particular nickname linked to the latter, supposedly a famous feature of Bologna.

(Bologna has two other nicknames: the Learned/Educated – la Dotta – a reference to the oldest university in the world, University of Bologna, founded in 1088; and the Fat – la Grassa – celebrating the culinary legacy of the capital of Emilia-Romagna, which gives you the familiar ragù alla Bolognese!)

Bologna

Bologna

I’d like to declare Bologna the “City of a Gazillion Porticoes”, because it really felt like it. (I subsequently learned that there are nearly 40km of porticoes within the historic centre itself!) Inevitably, some are more elegant than others, some are more lavishly decorated, some rely on floor tile motives to stand out, some stay hidden unless you peek into unexpected courtyards and doors, and some could do with serious restorations. Regardless, they all make great shelters from the elements.

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