April 03, 2014

So apart from the small matter of exams, I have officially finished my first year at uni. The only thing I was really sure about before I went was that I was going to love living in the city - and on that point, I was entirely right. There's just nowhere like London. The rest of my Fresher experience, however, has been a little harder than expected - but I've met lots of lovely people, consumed a LOT of alcohol and missed my fair share of lectures so at least I've done it properly!

Anyway, now I'm settled in London, I'm starting to think about the next uni-related adventure - my year abroad. My linguistic incompetence means I'm fairly limited in the places I can go, and after swiftly cutting out the boring options, I am pretty much left with just Copenhagen and Bologna. 
I was almost entirely set on Denmark (if you don't already know how much I love the Danes, my Copenhagen post should make it clear) but when I mentioned this to my my mum, it was clear that was not a choice she approved of. I know from previous family holidays, and my parents' choice of honeymoon, that Italy is one of mum's favourite places - having the chance to visit me there was not an opportunity she was willing to pass up. In fact, so determined was she for me to choose Bologna, she immediately booked a weekend away in an attempt to prove it really would be the best place for a year abroad. Which was how, straight after the end of term, I ended up on yet another Ryanair flight - this time to Italy. 

As an only child, I've always been pretty close to my parents - and we always get on well when we go on holiday together. I haven't been away with them since Morocco a few years ago (largely down to their questionable choice of Germany for their last summer holiday... yes, really) and after not seeing them for six weeks I was really looking forward to the weekend. 

As part of the grand plan to show off the city in its best light, Mum had printed off a packed agenda she had found online and off we set - a rather bemused Dad and I following on behind. However, after half an hour we were just as enthusiastic - the perfect sunny weather helping! 

What little I know about Bologna was gleaned from Tis Pity She's A Whore, the set text for Year 13 English - and quite frankly it was rather overshadowed by the incestuous storyline. However, I now know rather a lot thanks to a very informative open top bus tour.... so, fun fact number one - the university is the oldest in the Western hemisphere and was founded in 1088. Keep that in mind for a pub quiz. 

Fun fact number two: the local speciality wine is Pinolletto Frizzante, a delicious fruity version of Prosecco, which might be one of my favourite wines ever. More interestingly for anyone not as geeky about wine as I am, in Bologna they also serve free nibbles, or aperitifs, with your evening drinks - pretty handy as a hungry and poor student, as my mum pointed out more than once. 

The next day we took a little train up to the Basilica of San Luca in the hills overlooking the city - cue more fun tourist facts...

The evening was spent at a delicious traditional Italian restaurant. So delicious, in fact, that I was prepared to overlook the sexist faux pas they made by having two separate menus - pink for women and blue for men - with the men's menus being the only one with prices on! Either that, or the huge amount of alcohol they plied us with and the roses they gave us on departure...

The city felt really friendly and studenty, and was beautiful in a way that only Italian cities are. The food was incredible (although I think I'd need to find a decent gym...), the weather was great, shopping was fab and the wine was delicious... I'm already looking forward to spending the year there. Congratulations Mum, you win. Again.

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