Bologna Inside - Second Edition

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HOUSING (See also Chapter 3)

Finding housing in the provincia is increasingly difficult due to its rapid growth and the influx of city slickers. It is generally true that the farther out you go, the lower the rents and real estate prices. If you are hoping to find a cheap, fixer-upper rustico (rustic farmhouse) you may be surprised how far from Bologna you will have to look. For more information on buying a house, see Chapter 10: Long Term.


Contact a local real estate agency in the area where you would like to live. Real estate agents in the province know their turf and have their local reputation to uphold. For this reason, they are often friendlier and more accommodating than their colleagues in the big city.


While in Bologna you are most likely to live in an appartamento (apartment), in the province your options are more varied. Below is a brief list of some of the descriptions you may encounter:

Attico: attic apartment, top floor
Casa colonica: colonial farmhouse, sometimes within a corte colonica, or farm complex with a casella and fienile
Casa indipendente: one-family house
Casella/Fienile: stables/hayloft
Con giardino: with outdoor space
Cortile: courtyard
Mansarda: loft space
Palazzina: small apartment building
Porzione di: a portion of
Villetta a schiera: townhouse, houses that share a wall

Depending on your location, check to see if the home is equipped with zanzariera (screens), which will keep out mosquitos and other vermin. This is especially important near rivers, lakes and canals where zanzare (mosquitos) are more common. If you are in a rural area, know that there will likely be seasonal use of herbicides and pesticides. Residents are sometimes notified of spraying, but often they are not. It’s best to close your windows if you see spraying nearby.


Like the city, areas in the province are not immune to visits from ladri (thieves), particularly in isolated areas. Many Italian homes are equipped with inferriate di sicurezza (security bars) on the windows, especially on the ground floor, to keep thieves at bay. It is wise to lock all your doors in August when most of Italy is on vacation, even while you are home.


Be aware of old wells, especially around decrepit farmhouses or other rural outbuildings where they might be covered by vegetation. In the woods, unexploded World War II ordinances are still occasionally found. Do not allow your children to play in old bunkers or other former military entrenchments. The same goes for canals and waterways in the Pianura where the water is not safe for bathing or drinking.


While the girth and length (up to two meters) can make quite an impression, most of the gray or black snakes you see in the Bolognese countryside are harmless biscia. However, poisonous vipers also live here, particularly in dry, sandy or rocky areas. Like most snakes, they are only dangerous when stepped on or otherwise scared or disturbed. While viper bites are a rare occurrence, the venom is poisonous and requires transport to a medical facility immediately.

You may come across a scorpion or scorpioncino, as small, black scorpions are called by locals. Most Bolognese will tell you they are practically harmless, with a bite no worse than a bee sting. There are also several varieties of yellowjackets, hornets and bees, including the large calabrone, known to cause severe reactions. Mushrooms hunting is popular (especially when the famed porcini are in season), but you must know what you are doing, as there are many extremely poisonous varieties. For the poison control center, see Chapter 4: Health.