A few days ago, my friends and I made a day trip to the town of Bologna. A beautiful city with the world’s oldest university, Alma Mater Studiorum Università di Bologna, founded in 1088.
Bologna is one of the best preserved medieval cities in the world, and the town really has an authentic, historic and quaint feel to it. In contrast to the medieval backdrop, the city is one of the most advanced cities in Italy. Perhaps this is in large part to the huge student population that resides here. The type of students that we found were much different from our Milan university’s student population. Bologna’s students are more about the Bohemian lifestyle vs. the designer brands- a lot of dreadlocks, tattoos, and the most facial piercings I have ever seen (nothing compared to even some of Austin’s kids). But let’s not judge a book by its cover. These students are extremely ambitious and passionate about their university studies- you can see many of them discussing subjects with their professors after class and ambitiously reading library books over their cappuccinos and self-rolled cigarettes. These kids are passionate about what they study, and you can feel the enthusiasm just by walking among them.
After sightseeing and enjoying the most delicious lasagne bolognese, we made our way to the central station to catch the Regionale train back to Milan. This is where the craziness began. We arrived an hour earlier, checked the monitor which said the train to take off from platform 3 “ouest” (west). We made our way to platform 3, waited and waited. Five minutes before we were supposed to depart, the train still was not there. We looked around and noticed a small family looked just as confused as us. They were Italian, heading to Milan, so we realized something was wrong here. Then suddenly they rushed down the stairs to the underpass (two minutes before departure); we risked it and followed them. Up the stairs again to another platform with a huge sign – platform 1 – but wait, there was a small sign above – binari est/ouest- east/west platforms. Only once you read the top of the stairs can you see that there are 3 extra platforms. We frantically ran toward the train, with the Italian family rushing in front of us to thwart the last open doors from shutting. So, important thing to remember- there are in fact 2 of each platforms 1-3. There is 1-3, as expected, but there are also 1-3 EST/OUEST, hiding on the side of the train station, Bologna Centrale.