My Italian adventure (in ten steps)

 by Aga Midor (Poland)

If you want to learn Italian, have new experiences and enjoy wonderful food and nice weather, Bologna (the “red”, the “learned” and the “fat”) is a marvelous place to choose for your “Italian adventure”.

Once experienced, you’ll never forget Bologna’s famous porticoes, which can save your life when the Italian sun comes out, nor the many “piazze” and the great parks.

In years to come you’ll have memories of hanging out in “Piazza Maggiore” or “Giardini Margherita” in the evenings and at weekends, eating icecream and watching the people pass by.

Ok, ok, it’s going to be brilliant…but let’s go back to the beginning. Just how did I discover the perfect city for my “Italian adventure”?

Step one: make a decision!

When I first decided to study Italian during my holidays, I asked around amongst my friends, who helped me to find a destination that would combine pleasure, fun and culture.

I spent a long time deciding, but in the end was convinced that Bologna was the ideal choice…and perfect for learning Italian. Decision made, I was ready to start planning my “Italian adventure”!

Step two: find a flat!

Ok, finally I know where I’ll be going, but how to find a flat?
I started my quest by looking at websites like or Finding an Erasmus group on Facebook was also a great help.

If you can, visit the city briefly to look at flats rather than relying on the internet. Or if you’re taking an Italian course at a language school, ask them to arrange accommodation for you.

I came to Bologna for 5 days with a long list of the apartments to see, and it turned out to be a REALLY good idea.

Most of the ones I’d short-listed were not very suitable, and rarely matched the descriptions I’d seen on the Internet. In the end, I found my new home with the help of some friendly Erasmus students.

Here in Bologna there are young people from all over the world doing Italian courses or studying at the university, and they know how to help you! Flat-hunting is a great way to meet people, too!

Step three: make new Italian friends!

When I was dreaming of my new life in Italy, I knew it would be important to make Italian friends: it’s the best way to practise the language and also to get help with the bureaucracy, such as getting a “codice fiscale” (tax/national insurance number).

Having finally found my apartment through an agency, I needed a “codice fiscale” before signing the contract.

At the beginning I had no idea how to achieve this but, with the help of my new my friends, I managed it! Italian people are really nice and helpful.

Step four: how to get around the city…

My apartment is located in via Marco Polo, so I take the no. 17 bus and get off at the ”Lame” bus stop. It’s quite far; 13 stops from the center. The first time I got off at my stop, it seemed deserted…but, when I looked a little bit more carefully, I saw there were buildings and people even outside of the historic center!

Like many famous university cities, Bologna is also a city of bicycles. It’s said you can buy one in the student quarter for only for 5 or 10 euros, though, of course, that will depend on ”your negotiation skills”.

But beware! Bike theft is quite frequent here, so you’ll need a strong chain and a solid padlock.

Step five: the Erasmus students paradise!

Oh no…I forgot the adapter! Where I can buy one? I looked everywhere, before finally a miracle, ”Ipercoop”! A huge supermarket. Saved again! This shopping paradise has everything an Erasmus student needs to survive: food, drink, adapters and much more.

Step six: my Italian SIM card!

Another thing to add to your ”Italian adventure” survival list is getting an Italian SIM card. I decided to buy mine from WIND: 8 euros for 200 MIMUTES, 200 SMS and 1GB of Internet traffic…a money-saving bargain!

Each month I need to recharge my number with 10 euros… it’s not like a subscription, which is prepaid. While I had to sign something to get the SIM, when the time comes for me to leave Italy, I just have to stop recharging my number.

Step seven, nine, ten: have fun!

Ok, finally the serious part of my list…after your Italian lessons are over, get out and enjoy the nightlife! Have a beer in a pub, dance in the nightclubs, go to the theater, the cinema or the museums, do some shopping, or just lose yourself in the narrow streets of wonderful Bologna!

Got a question for Aga? Want to know how YOU could study Italian in Bologna. Leave a comment on this article.




  1. Nice article and I really want to go to Bologna in August to study for two weeks but am afraid it will be to far to go to a beach:-)

    • Yes, Ewa, I wish Bologna had a beach!
      But hey, there are swimming pools, and the sea is only an hour or so away by train.

  2. I am having trouble getting to the orthographic marks to write in Italian. Is there a place in word that will make my keyboard into an Italian keyboard?
    PS Where did Aga find an apartment?

    • Hi Joan,

      There’s an in-depth discussion of this (dedicated to you!) here. I’d suggest you read the comments, as well as the article, as a lot of people had helpful suggestions.

      About the appartment, I’ll ask Aga to reply to you in the afternoon when she’s free. But if you do a course at Madrelingua, we can find your appartment for you. It’s a free service for our students.


  3. John Badham-Thornhill says:

    Hi Aga
    How log did you spend in Bologna learning Italian??

    • She’s just gone off home, John. But she’s here for three months, I think. The whole summer, Polish university holidays…