The Fat, The Learned, and The Red, Bologna’s three nicknames that represent what the city’s essence and soul are all about: food, history, and university.

You might have already heard of Bologna, the capital of the Emilia-Romagna region. Locals often use three unique nicknames that reflect what it is best known for: “La Grassa” (The Fat), “La Dotta” (The Learned), and “La Rossa” (The Red). Let’s discover their meanings and how they describe the three sides of the city.

La Grassa (The Fat)

For many people coming to Bologna is a culinary pilgrimage. The Emilia-Romagna region is where many of Italy’s top products come from: Parma ham, parmesan cheese, mortadella, and balsamic vinegar. Need I say more?

While strolling through the narrow streets of the city, you’ll be surrounded by small grocery stores selling authentic specialties. The Quadrilatero is the most picturesque district of the historic center, and since the Middle Ages, the ancient streets have hosted an innumerable amount of artisan workshops . Infact,  you can still find some of the most traditional delis there selling mortadella, which was born in Bologna and is considered to be one of Italy’s most loved charcuterie products. You could probably even smell its delicious and unmistakable scent from outside the shops!

Don’t forget that there are so many amazing dishes to try in Bologna, and a few essential meals that you can’t miss are: tortellini in broth, tagliatelle with ragù, pumpkin tortelli, and butter, and sage tortelloni. Here is where you’ll be able to try the real Italian lasagna, which was originally born in Bologna.

If you would like a few options of some local sit-down restaurants to enjoy, we have  some  recommendations which might be useful for your next trip:

  • Trattoria da Me – Via S. Felice, 50a
  • Ristorante Da Cesarina – Via Santo Stefano, 19/b
  • Osteria dell’Orsa – Via Mentana, 1f
  • Trattoria Anna Maria – Via delle Belle Arti, 17/a

La Rossa (The Red)

Originally “The Red” nickname was used to refer to the terracotta tiled roofs of the city, which are best seen from the top of the Asinelli Tower, one of the two medieval towers located in the city center that guarantees the best view of Bologna. Red is a recurring color in the town’s architecture and even the famous porticoes, which create a fascinating urban landscape, tend to have a light red color.

La Dotta (The Learned)

The nickname “La Dotta” refers to the University of Bologna, the oldest university in the Western world, founded in 1088. Students came from all over the globe to study there. It is still one of Italy’s most famous and prestigious universities with a large student population adding to the city’s already vibrant atmosphere, especially at aperitivo time.

Have you ever been to Bologna? If you haven’t visited this Italian gem yet, we suggest you see it as soon as possible 😉

When you come, don’t forget to tag @veroni_usa in your Instagram stories!



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