Indians in Bologna & Italy A simple guide for Indians visiting Bologna
Sunil Deepak, (Updated August 2012)
If you are planning to visit Bologna (Italy) for a short or long period, this page is for you. Bologna is in the northern part of Italy, halfway between Rome on the south, and Milan and Venice on the north. Bologna has a famous university, among the best universities in Italy and Europe. It is a beautiful and hospitable city. Temperatures in Bologna are mostly on the colder side including below zero degrees and snow in winters, though during July and August it can also be very hot with temperatures going above 35 degrees centigrade.
Bologna has a rich programme of cultural events including films, music, dances, etc. through out the year, even more so during summer. There are so many museums to see. On most weekends, they have guided tours in the museums, though they are mostly in Italian. Ask the reception offices in the museums if there are any English language tours.
Indian and South Asian food and culture in Bologna
Indian or south Asian cuisine is common in the restaurants. It is easy to find dals, rice, Indian spices, sweets, specific ingredients for north or south Indian cooking at the numerous shops in the city, run mainly by persons from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. However, one thing lacks in Bologna - there is no idli-dosa restaurant.
South Asian shops renting or selling Indian or Pakistani DVDs (unfortunately mostly pirated) are many. People do put up parabolic (dish) antenna for watching some of the Indian pay-channels such as Zee or Sony, beamed from UK. Some persons are also using their internet connection and a pay-card to watch Indian channels. Italy offers tens of free digital TV channels but they are all in Italian. A few Italian channels such as MTV and Rai 5 have a few English language programmes with Italian subtitles. Some Italian channels show Bollywood films dubbed in Italian, especially during summers. It is a football loving country. Cricket and badminton are almost unknown among the mainstream Italians thus Italian TV channels never show any cricket or badminton matches. Some south Asians have together formed cricket teams and have matches.
There are no paid cable TV channels in Italy. The paid TV channels, including some American and British channels in English, are accessible through paycards and internet connections or dish antennas. Many of the Indian TV programmes and serials are now available also on internet.
Indian and South Asian Associations in Bologna
There are two Indian associations in Bologna, you can check their web pages - Sanatan Sanskritik Parishad (Bengali Association) and Namaste India that can also be contacted by Email: rajesh(at)namasteindia.it
There is also the Indian Association of North India based in Milan that can be contacted at indianassociationofmilan(at)gmail.com
Consulate General of India also has a Facebook page for getting updated information about their initiatives.
There are many Indian students at Bologna University, especially in post graduate and doctorate courses. You can check them and get in contact with them through Orkut Group - Indians in Bologna (Not very active). Facebook also has an active group called Indians in Europe, where people share their daily problems like residence permit (Carta di Soggiorno) driving license, etc.
Finding student accomodation in Bologna
Student Accomodation and Information Service (SAIS) of Bologna university can help international students coming to Bologna. Broadly speaking, there are two university accommodations in Bologna - San Vitale student house and Villa Pallavicini student house. There is an additional university hostel for post-graduate students. Another students hostel called "Camp 1 us Bononia" is scheduled to open in September 2012. SAIS can also help in renting rooms in private apartments and has a webpage where you can check the available apartments. Most apartments and hostels ask for a two months' advance deposit. Usually, the room rent does not cover electricity, water and central heating costs, so you need to keep separate money for those expenses. You can write to SAIS for information and help at: email@example.com
If you are looking for simple accommodation in Bologna, you can also check the sign board in Via del Guasto in the university area, off Via Zamboni, close to Piazza Verdi. (I also get frequent requests of "help" from desperate students looking for an accommodation. I am sorry but I am not able to accommodate you in my house or provide other indications about Indian/Asian families.)
Free Wi-Fi in Bologna
If you are new or just passing through Bologna, you can use the free Wi-Fi service provided by city government through Iperbole service. In 30 locations across the city, including the central city square (Piazza Maggiore) and some commercial malls, you can access free Wi-Fi 24 hours a day. You need to register and get password from Iperbole desk in Piazza Maggiore (open during office hours, Monday to Friday, on the ground floor of the building with the clock tower, near the pharmacy).
Learning Italian and Finding Other Support in Bologna
If you are coming to Bologna for a short or long period and want to use this opportunity to learn some Italian, there are many free courses in the city. Personally, I think that learning a new language is important because it enriches your life, it makes your stay more enjoyable and it improves your career prospects.
Many of the organisations running free Italian courses are voluntary organisations. Some of them can also provide emergency support for food and shelter. You can also volunteer with them and discover the joy of helping other persons in need (and make new friends in the process). Here is a partial list of some of these organisations:
(1) Associazione Famiglie Insieme, Piazza S. Giovanni in Monte 1/2, Bologna, Tel. 051 271088, e-mail: enrico.morganti(at)fastwebnet.it Open to public: two afternoons a week (Wednesday from 4.30 PM to 6.30 PM; Friday from 10.30 AM to 12.30 PM) Facilitate persons looking for work as assistance to disabled persons and elderly; provide free food; run free Italian classes twice a week.
(2) Centro di Ascolto Immigrati della Caritas Diocesana, Via Rialto,7/2 (near via Santo Stefano), Bologna, Bus:13,11, Tel.051/235358 Timings for assistance: Monday and Thursday 9 -11 AM, Tuesday 3-5 PM Twice a week provide food at Centro S. Petronio (same address as above): Tuesday 3-5 PM, Friday 9 - 11 AM Information, assitance, language learning course
(3) Associazione L'Arca Provides free food. Open every day from MOnday to Friday from 3.30 PM to 7 PM in Via Zago 14, Bus: 38
(4) CGIL-Centro lavoratori stranieri, via del Porto 69/D, Tel. 051.6087190k, e-mail: stranieri(at)bo.cgil.it Open to public: from Monday to Friday 9 AM to 1 PM & 2 to 6 PM, saturday only morning. Provide assistance for job, information and Italian course
(5) Aprimondo Centro Poggeschi, via Guerrazzi 14/e - Bologna; have Italian language courses for different levels both in morning and afternoon, from Monday to Friday. Tel: 3207514063/3316111621 email: aprimondo(at)centropoggeschi.org
(6) Scuola di Italiano By Piedi - Marina Gherardi - Methodist church of Bologna, via Venezian, 3 Bologna, has Italian language courses on Tuesday 6.30 to 8 PM, Wednesday different courses in afternoon and evening, Saturday from 4.30 to 6 PM, Sunday morning 9 to 10.30 AM. Tel: 051 6233429 email: guido.armellini(at)fastwebnet.it; elisabettacammelli(at)hotmail.com, francantonia(at)fastwebnet.it
(7) SIM (Scuola Italiano Migranti) Via Fioravanti 24 (C/O XM24) Bologna; Bus: 11; courses morning 9 AM to 2 PM, evening 8 PM to midnight, every day from Monday to Friday. tel: 3388883615 , 3338834255 email: scuolaitalianomigranti(at)invidia.net
Support for GLBTI students
Bologna has a very active Gay Lesbian Bisexual Transgender and Inter-sexual (GLBTI) support system. The office of GLBTI centre called Cassero is close to railway station on Via Don Minzoni 18, next to MAMBO (Museum of modern art). They are in old medieval building of Port of Bologna, that is interesting from archeological point of view. They have a good library on GLBT and human rights themes and their restaurant in the basement is a lively place with lot of cultural initiatives in the evenings and weekends. For knowing more about them check their website (opens in a new window).
Places to visit in Bologna
Bologna has a nice tourist information centre at the side entrance of central railway station as well as in the central square of Piazza Maggiore. You may also read my article on places to see in and around Bologna.