Welcome to Bologna

I am sitting in my apartment on the fifth floor of Via Fondazza. It’s in the early afternoon and the sun is beating relentlessly through my window. The sky is pale blue. The wind is mild, but refreshing. I look out and see rows of red brick roofs. Somewhere nearby, a pianist plays smooth, classical music. It mirrors the violin songs I heard in the morning.

In the distance, a stretch of green hills border the city. The famed church of San Luca sits triumphantly five kilometers away. I visited it last Sunday. The view from the hill-topped church itself was a spiritual experience. Tonight, I’ll make the 1.5 hour trek to a small vineyard on a neighboring slope.

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The sunset from our kitchen window

Life in Bologna is like swimming in a warm sea. It is beautiful and easy and calming. The pace of life ebbs and flows with the people. Now, in August, most Bolognese are away vacationing by the lakes or mountains. Shops are boarded up and the long portico streets are empty. For Ferragosto on August 15, most restaurants and stores were closed. I celebrated the Italian holiday with an evening potluck with friends.

In early September, nearly 80,000 students will flood Bologna. Most will be attending the University of Bologna–affectionately known as Unibo–the longest-running university in the world. My school, Johns Hopkins SAIS, houses 250 students each year. Nearly half, myself included, are pursing a Masters of Arts and will spend one year in Bologna and one year in Washington, DC. Collectively, our student body represents 40 nations.

Lupo’s ready for school!

In Bologna, I live in a three-bedroom apartment in the southeast part of the historic district. My roommates are both SAIS students, and we neighbor six additional SAISers. We’ve affectionately named our nine-person unit “The Block.” Lupo, a porcelain dog that sits outside our doors, is our pride and joy. He even has school spirit!

The Block has spent our days sunbathing by the windows, eating mozzarella and tomatoes on the porch, jumping through immigration hoops, and prepping for school. Our official semester doesn’t start until September 20, but we are all here early for Pre-Term. Half of us are in Intensive Italian class, and the other half are taking Microeconomics or Statistics. I’ve opted for Italian. Hopefully I’ll be able to function by the time the city wakes back up. In the meantime, I’m enjoying the slower pace of life. Ciao! 



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