Behold beautiful Bologna, a bustling cultural hub famous for its culinary arts and fine historic buildings.
Bologna has maintained its standing as one of the most important urban centers for centuries.
Over time, it has come to be known by three nicknames: La Grassa ("The Fat”) for its rich cuisine; La Rossa (The Red) for the tiled rooftops, and La Dotta (The Learned) for being home to the oldest continuously operating university in the western world, the University of Bologna.
So, what will you learn from Bologna?
On your way to the city, visit picturesque Parma, the birthplace of Parmigiano Reggiano cheese. Once you’ve arrived in Bologna, taste your way through FICO World Eataly, a 20-acre food-centric theme park that celebrates the diversity of Italian products. Then, travel to nearby Acetaia for a behind-the-scenes look at the making of balsamic vinegar.
A European capital of culture. In 2000, the European Union officially bestowed this honor upon Bologna, though the city was already widely considered the culinary capital of Italy—something which is no small feat!
From field to fork. FICO Eataly World holds the title of the world’s largest food park, home to four acres of farms, fields, and pastures; FICO also features demonstrations, eateries, hands-on exhibits, and pop-stores designed to celebrate and showcase the biodiversity of Italian cuisine.
Food for thought. Home of the world-famous Bolognese sauce, Bologna locals reserve use of the meat-based sauce as a dressing for tagliatelle, long flat ribbons of pasta. This means you likely won’t see spaghetti Bolognese on the menu.
The Heart of Bologna. Piazza Maggiore is one of the largest and oldest squares in all of Italy, serving as Bologna’s center for social and political life since 1200 AD. The square is surrounded by the most important buildings in the medieval city, including the oldest, Palazza del Podestà, and the Basilica of San Petronio, dedicated to the city’s patron saint
Symbol of the city. Bologna’s twin towers, Asinelli and Garisenda, lend their iconic leaning form to the city’s skyline. Climb the 498 narrow, wooden steps to the top of one of these 300-foot towers for a bird's-eye view of Bologna.
Miles of medieval porticoes. No other city in the world has as many porticoes as Bologna: the 40 some-odd miles of columned, covered outdoor walkways have enriched Bologna’s cityscape since the Middle Ages. In 2021, the porticoes of Bologna became a World Heritage Site for their artistic and cultural significance.
Annabel H., EF Gap Year Class of 2019 Boston University Class of 2023
My gap year took me out of my comfort zone so many times—and my life is better because of it. Now, as I head off to college, I am able to focus on my excitement rather than feeling nervous, because I have built so much confidence within the past year. If anyone is searching for a path to follow, a way to achieve their goals, or even just who they are, they need to take a gap year.