While I was exploring Bologna as part of BlogVille, one of the things I really wanted to experience was the city through the eyes of its locals as opposed to me as a traveler popping in for a week. What do they do on Saturday mornings? How about the rest of the week besides going to work? Are they perusing markets? Relaxing for hours in cafés? Biking around or strolling through Bologna’s UNESCO Heritage-protected porticoes?
I had already attended a traditional Italian cooking class at Cultura Italiana Scuola di Cucina Bologna where I got to learn the art of making three types of Italian pasta dishes Emilia Romagna is known for – Tagliatelle al Ragu (meat sauce), tortellini with sage butter, and gnocchi with tomato basil sauce.
I had already wandered its streets doing independent research on the best gelato in town which meant shamelessly eating an inordinate amount of gelato over the span of two days.
I had explored the town’s corners, taking photos of Bologna and its iconic squares, monuments, and sites.
But what I really wanted to know was how Bologna’s residents thrived every day and I wanted to start picking up on the city’s own human characteristics.
So I turned to longtime born and bred residents.
They are the talented photographers behind Instagrammers Bologna where they share gorgeous everyday lifestyle photos that capture the spirit of the city. So naturally they knew where to take me around town where I could explore its local culture through food, tradition, and lifestyle.
I got to spend a Saturday wandering the streets with them, discovering the city’s flea, meat, and fish markets, including enjoying brunch together and soaking up the overall vibe of this university town. We started out by exploring Piazza dell’ Agosto which turns into an open air flea market called Mercato “La Piazzola di Bologna” with vendors selling brightly colored clothes, shoes, and a hodgepodge of knickknacks. We then moved on to the university quarter where we ran into artisans such as a violin maker, a shoe cobbler who makes handmade Italian shoes, an artist who creates theatrical art, dolls, and textiles, as well as a mime artist whose eye I caught.
So if I were to describe Bologna as a person, she would be a young lady about my age – mid to late thirties – carrying an over-sized bag, not necessarily for fashion but for practicality. Casually tossing in whatever caught her fancy into it. Vivacious without being over the top, an old school beauty without being conceited or overtly self-aware. Digging into richly flavored gelato while subconsciously walking away those calories. Because Bologna isn’t about the surface. She’s full depth, pure radiance inside, open-minded, and fully alive. Bologna meets you with a hug, grabs you by the hand, and instantly introduces you to all her friends. Who in turn become yours as well.
Here are 110 – yes, 110 – everyday photos of Bologna that take me right back to the moment, the place, the feeling, and the warmth I felt while exploring this Italian city.
More stories from Bologna and Emilia Romagna
Meet local food producers in Modena, mosaic artists in Ravenna. textile artisans and fishmongers in Cesenatico, and traditional terracotta pan makers in Montetiffi, as well as try Italian cooking classes and search for the best gelato in Bologna.