Test city: how students live in Bologna

Europe's oldest and still top ranked. Available to anyone who wants to learn. His liberal approach to education is both condemned and adored. Bologna owes him even the architecture of its buildings. For ten centuries, the University of Bologna and the city have grown together like Siamese twins. And the students here are everyone's favorite

Carrying an umbrella in Bologna is bad luck. And why? The entire historic center can be viewed under the porticos. These peculiar corridors along the buildings were created thanks to the students of the university. When a university was formed in Bologna in the 11th century, young people greedy for knowledge poured in from all over Italy, and then Europe. Acutely there was a question with habitation. Entrepreneurial citizens began to hastily build additional rooms in their apartments above the sidewalks in order to rent them out to students.

Excellent city: how students live in Bologna

Buildings expanded on all floors, except for the first, which housed shops, shops and trattorias. And so that the houses hanging over the streets did not collapse, they were propped up with wooden beams. Over time, most of these beams were overlaid with brickwork, plastered and painted. But in some places, wooden supports remained, which are shown to tourists as an example of the architecture of that era. The total length of the porticoes reaches 53 kilometers! True, today there are so many students that even this architectural find does not solve their housing problems.

Campuses for the poor

— There is no single university campus here,  – says student Unibo (Unibo is the official abbreviation of Università di Bologna), 30-year-old journalist from St. Petersburg with Romanian roots Veronica Floria. Veronica is finishing her first year at DAMS (DAMS – Drama, Art and Music Studies), that is, drama, art and music. – It was my old dream: to study art in Italy. I rent a room in a treshka on Tiarini Street, opposite the station. I pay 375 euros a month and consider myself lucky. The owner himself, also a student, lives in other rooms, and a friend from Moscow, with whom we acted together and then looked for a whole month where to settle. There are many students here, there are not so many apartments for rent in Bologna.

Excellent city: how students live in Bologna

It is said that every eighth inhabitant of Bologna studies at the university. You can't help but recognize students: with textbooks under their arms or heavy backpacks, chatting in different languages, sipping drinks in bars or sitting right on the steps of some palazzo, buried in a book. It is not surprising that an entire organization is working in Emilia-Romagna to meet their needs – the regional agency Er.go. It is it that provides everything necessary for students of different universities, not only Unibo: from housing and meals to scholarships and work. There are several dormitories on the agency's balance sheet, however, mostly poor people from Asian countries settle there.

One of these hostels is located on Larga Street. It looks like an ordinary three-story condominium with a parking lot. I meet a swarthy guy in a red T-shirt: Karim, 22, from Pakistan, is studying medicine at the University of Bologna for the third year and lives on this campus. .

Having greeted the concierge, we go up to the second floor, into the corridor with many doors. There are five apartments on each floor: three-room apartments are the largest.

“This is a training hall,” the future doctor points to the half-open door. I look in: the tables are like in an auditorium, a black woman sits and reads a textbook intently. And Karim continues:  – There is free Wi-Fi … Shared kitchen … There are washing machines on tokens … Canteens are located near the university buildings. Toilet and shower in the apartment…

The student opens the door and we find ourselves in a spacious living room. While the guy is raking pizza boxes off the table, I look around. The furnishings are simple: a couch, a single bed, a table and a TV. In the other two rooms, the same story: two beds and a narrow wardrobe. Karim shares this apartment with five other compatriots.

– We pay nothing, – the Pakistani smiles broadly. – The annual income of our families is ten times less than the Italian minimum, so we live and study for free, We also receive scholarships. Provided that we pass the exams on time.



Unibo in numbers

The oldest university in Europe consists of 32 faculties and 12 research centers. Participates in 197 scientific projects funded by the European Union, in 72 – under the supervision of the Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research of Italy, in 80 projects of the regional scale of Emilia-Romagna.

86,500 students study at the University of Bologna. More than 3,000 have come here from other countries under the Erasmus student exchange program. And about the same number went to study in their place.

The university staff has more than 5,700 employees, including 2,748 teachers and 2,967 technical and administrative workers.

The university's electronic library provides access to 47,000 periodicals, 190,000 books and 680 different databases.

On June 19, 1999, the Declaration on the Creation of a Common European Higher Education Area was signed in Bologna. At various times, until 2015 inclusive, the declaration was signed by the Ministers of Education of 48 countries, including Russia (in 2003).

Student Paradise

At Er.go< /em>, who owns this campus and a dozen others in Bologna, I was told:

– There are not enough places for everyone, so preference is given to students from families with a minimum, no more than 36 thousand euros per year, income level. Rooms cost between 180 and 250 euros per month. But the families of many children do not earn so much even for six months, so the state pays for them. As a rule, these are students from Africa, Pakistan, India and Bangladesh. What should the rest do? You can contact private campuses.

One of the three, called Camplus College, located in the center, on San Felice street. Medieval five-story palazzo with a cozy courtyard and palm trees. More like a five-star mini-hotel than a student hostel. Beatrice Simone, a 22-year-old political science student from Unibo, agrees to show her how she lives.

— There are 16 apartments in the building for 60 students, — Beatrice says, opening the door to the right of the elevator. — I live with three other girls from different faculties. We have three bedrooms, a living room, a kitchen and a toilet with a shower. There are also apartments with one or two bedrooms.

The living room pleases the eye with modern furniture, large windows and a terrace. The wooden beamed ceiling makes the space feel like home. Beatrice's room, elongated like a pencil case, has a single bed, a large desk and shelves for books, a wardrobe and a bedside table, on the walls there are bright posters depicting animals, landscapes, children and musicians.

– We pay 9,000 euros a year – in two installments, at the beginning of each semester. Includes weekly cleaning, bed linen change and lunches in the dining room,” says Beatrice. “My parents are so calm for me. In addition, there are enormous opportunities for learning. Camplus constantly organizes conferences, workshops, meetings with potential employers… There is a gym, a laundry room, and a library…

Beatrice and her friend lead me through the corridors of Camplus.

— This is a class with computers. Shh! They're doing it there. Here is a common room with a telecom… There is a shared kitchen, if you want to cook something with a large group… Here you can play table tennis…

Maurizio Carvelli, the director and founder of Camplus, was himself in the 1980s a student at the Faculty of Economics at the University of Bologna and rented an apartment.

“Shortly before completing my studies, taxes on income from renting apartments increased,” Maurizio told me, “and it became unprofitable to rent them out. Students were denied housing en masse. We literally became homeless. Having studied the legislation, we learned that by renting apartments through an authorized organization, the townspeople would receive some tax breaks. Then my friends and I registered as a cooperative of intermediaries between students and apartment owners. To rent a corner, students had to join our cooperative. Two years later, our organization had 500 members, and in 1985 we built our first student residence. Today there are three Camplus Colleges in Bologna with 340 students. And also several residences with apartments for 1090 beds.


Students rule

The University of Bologna originated as a free secular organization of students in 1088. They chose their teachers and paid them from donations made by their families, friends and ordinary citizens. Two groups of students stood out: the so-called citramontanes and ultramontanes, that is, local (on this side of the mountains) and foreigners (from behind the mountains). In the 12th century, there were already 17 groups of Italian citramontanes and 14 ultramontanes, divided by nationality. This classification took place at least until the 16th century. In the main building of the university of that time, in the Palazzo Archigymnasium on Piazza Galvani, a unique heraldic complex of 6,000 student coats of arms has been preserved.

In Bologna, to this day, students are the decisive link, in contrast to the Sorbonne, which arose as an association of teachers .

In 2018, the EC recognized the University of Bologna as the first among European universities in terms of the number of foreign students and the variety of study programs and courses in English.

Among the great students of Unibo: Francesco Petrarch, Erasmus of Rotterdam, Nicolaus Copernicus, Paracelsus, Albrecht Dürer , Torquato Tasso, Carlo Goldoni, Luigi Galvani. In the 1940s, Pier Paolo Pasolini studied at the Faculty of Philology, and in the 1950s, Giorgio Armani studied at the Faculty of Medicine.

Alma mater in cells

From the chic Camplus, I go straight to the former monastery, where in half an hour an exam in the history of medieval art with Professor Fabrizio Lollini should begin. The Faculty of Arts is located in the mid-13th century complex of Santa Cristina in Piazza Giorgio Morandi. After a fire at the end of the 15th century, the convent was restored and has been perfectly preserved to this day. Like most monasteries of that time, the complex was built in the shape of a square with a closed courtyard, next to the church and a shady park.

Cool stone corridors, vaulted ceilings and frescoes on the walls pale from time – it seems that the local atmosphere pacifies even the seething passions of students. I go up the stone stairs with arched niches in the walls. On the second floor, behind a completely modern glass compartment door, there is one of the halls of the Italian Women's Library, the only one in the country where books are collected about female nature, gender, psychology, feminism and the active role of women in today's society.

— Stop by Aula Manya (Aula Magna, from Latin “big auditorium”. — Note. “Around the World”), – smiles a slender librarian in glasses, recognizing me as a guest. – This is a former monastery refectory, and now a study hall. There is “Crucifixion”, a painting by our countryman Lorenzo Costa (artist of the 15th-16th centuries from Emilia-Romagna. — Note “Around the world”).

Looking into other classes , I am amazed at how surprisingly well the new desks and chairs, computers and bookshelves fit into the ancient monastery walls.

“We study in the former cells of nuns!” says a tall, thin man who came up to me. “See those seams on the walls? These are traces of broken partitions between the cells.

More than the stitches, I am struck by the appearance of a man: short shorts and a T-shirt, two earrings in one ear and a tattoo around his left ankle. Probably an adult student, I think and run to the exam.

Excellent the city: how students live in Bologna

Freedom beyond recognition

About ten guys and girls gathered near the class on the ground floor. A man already familiar to me in earrings and shorts comes out of the door:

– Who is on the exam? Raise your hands.

— This is our Professor Lollini — he is cool! — says a student standing next to me, noticing the surprise on my face.

While we are waiting for the start of the test, the guys talk about the system of educational university loans (CFU) in Unibo. To move from one course to another, you need to earn 60 credits (the figure may vary depending on the faculty). Credits are awarded for attending lectures, seminars and, of course, for passing exams. One exam brings from 6 to 12 “points”. You can borrow up to five loans from the university, but then you have to repay it by taking an additional exam for the next year.

“There are mandatory exams, and there are optional ones,” says Viktor Kharitonchenko from Vinnitsa. “In the exact sciences, there are more compulsory ones. For example, everyone needs to take economic mathematics. But you can choose between programming and communications. It depends on what you plan to do later.

“Everyone can attend any lectures, even without being a university student,” Professor Lollini tells me, having left the class for five minutes. “For example, you have the right to listen to all the lectures of my course for free. Only at the end of the exam you will not be accepted. And students themselves decide whether to attend lectures or not, and can retake one exam at least for a lifetime. Unibo gives them that luxury. The goal is to develop a sense of responsibility and awareness in a person. After all, if you do not go to lectures, then it will be more difficult to prepare yourself.

Smart people understand this, go to classes and benefit from such freedom of choice. Fools rejoice at the opportunity to have fun and fall into real slavery. I find this system reasonable. There is a natural selection of people & nbsp; – who needs a higher education, and who is fine without it. But as a teacher, it annoys me when the students I first saw on the exam evaluate my abilities at the end of the year. Such an opportunity to express an opinion about their professors is given to all university students. They answer test questions, whether they liked the subject, whether everything was clear, etc. And rightly so. But if truants write that not everything is clear to them, they are tempted to say: “Do you want clarity? Go to lectures guys!”

Read also

Eternal youth

After the exam, which turned into a lecture for me, I go to have a bite to eat at the nearest bar.

– Passed? – the bartender of 45 years old asks me, putting to warm up a tortilla with tomatoes and mozzarella, which I ordered. – I love students: young, energetic, smart. They often hang out here.

Excellent city: how students live in Bologna

Most Bolognese are sympathetic to students. Any owner of a cafe or grocery store on Zamboni Street, located in the heart of university life, will tell you this.

— And why not love them? —the plump pizzaiolo laughs with Zamboni. “As a rule, they are polite. And always hungry! Some of them I even feed for free, otherwise they can barely drag their feet.

Excellent city: how students live in Bologna

It so happened historically that Zamboni has the densest concentration of Unibo buildings: the Faculty of Law and Philology, a large study hall with computers, a student canteen, a library, and several university museums. Moreover, here, in the Palazzo Poggi of the 16th century, is the “head” of the University of Bologna – its rectorate. While his           -heart -is pulsing nearby.

“Jazz Evening. Free beer for students,” I read on the doors of a cafe on the corner of Zamboni and Piazza Rossini. “Erasmus Evening (a program for the exchange of students from different countries. — Note “Around the world”), snacks at the expense of the house ”  – announcement on the next. Conference “Ecology and Sport”, a new exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art, a meeting in the library with the rock star Eugenio Finardi … All this for students.

– The city is always young and active with them, – tries to shout down a street drummer, a waitress from a trattoria. – And what without them? There would be a museum of antiquities.

Read also

The oldest party

The main exhibits of the “Museum of Antiquities” are the towers of Asinelli and Garisenda, which stand at the beginning of Zamboni Street and are directly related to the university.

— Everyone can climb Asinelli, except students, — the blushing woman laments theatrically from a recent ascent to the 97-meter tower, a girl in a laurel wreath. – I defended myself today – and first of all here! It is impossible to get a diploma, otherwise you will fail – such a sign.

From the yellow ribbon on the wreath, you can understand that the girl graduated from the Faculty of Statistics. Laurel wreaths, teachers in robes on defense, the laureate walking around the streets surrounded by cheerful friends reciting pearls of their own composition in his honor – the traditional attributes of Unibo's graduation and the usual scenes of the urban landscape.

1/5Everyone can climb the tower Azinelli, except for students. It is impossible to defend a diploma, otherwise you will fail – such a sign

Another ancient tradition  is a student hangout in Piazza Verdi. In the middle of the 18th century, when the city's opera house was built here, students gathered in the evenings to listen to the sounds of music coming through the open windows. They couldn't afford a ticket. Today, a diverse audience gathers in front of the opera house, including students of Unibo.

Hippie couples in colorful Indian trousers and dreadlocks, street musicians and mimes, beggars with their dogs, yogis singing “Hare Krishna”,  – and students with beer… The opera is no longer heard through the soundproof walls of the theater, and it would still be drowned out by the cacophony of the inhabitants of Piazza Verdi.

– Do you want a joint? Just a ten,” someone whispers in my ear. A guy in dreadlocks holds out a cigarette clenched in his fist.

After a couple of minutes, they offer me to buy a stolen bicycle. Until recently, they were in great demand among students. But now there is a city service “bike for rent” with an Internet application.

“Aren’t you outraged by smoking weed, buying and selling stolen bikes, drinking in front of everyone?” I ask one of the carabinieri patrolling the square with sincere interest.

— We can’t arrest for smoking marijuana or buying a used bike that was not reported stolen. If a fight breaks out or even a verbal altercation, we will intervene,” the policeman calmly answers me. “We are here more to protect these guys, not to punish. Who among us hasn't drank beer and partyed in our youth? This is a very old hangout. Our. Darling. Part of the urban landscape. Like the two towers of Bologna.

Excellent city: how students live in Bologna

Bologna, Italy

Piazza Bologna 140.86 km²
< strong>Population390,000 people
Population density 2,769 people/km²

Area of ​​Italy 301,340 km² (71st place in the world)
Population~ 59,000,000 people (25th place)
Population density 200 inhabitants/km²

ATTRACTIONSPiazza Maggiore, St. » towers – Asinelli and Garisenda, St. Stephen's Square with a complex of seven temples.
TRADITIONAL DISHES lasagna bolognese, tortellini alla panna (with cream), crostata (shortbread pie) with apricot marmalade .
TRADITIONAL DRINKScaffe shacherato (whipped coffee with ice and vanilla liqueur), white wine pignoletto.
SOUVENIRSceramic plate depicting two towers, tortellone-shaped magnet.

DISTANCE from Moscow to Bologna ~ 2230 km (from 3 hours 20 minutes in flight)
TIME behind Moscow by an hour in summer, by 2 hours in winter
VISA < /strong>Schengen


Material published in Vokrug Sveta magazine No. 9, September 2019, partially updated in May 2022

What else to read on the topic

A Brief History of Italy


Birthplace of the Renaissance and the Baroque style, Italy has always been a center of culture. In modern Italy, there is a strong pride in the cultural identity that distinguishes Tuscany, Rome, Sicily, Venice and other regions. Summarizing the most important events in the history of Italy from the founding of Rome and the unification of the country to the realities of the fascist regime in the first half of the 20th century and beyond, to the present day, the authoritative British historian Jeremy Black explores the origins of the cultural influence of Italians throughout the world, as well as the causes and consequences of political events and a division that still exists today.

Excellent city: how students live in Bologna

BuyGet a priceElena Buresti

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *