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Destinations / People / Sara Lorusso

Sara Lorusso

Bologna

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We talked to a photographer and visual artist about her hometown: meet Sara Lorusso.

Fascinated by nature and its creatures since childhood, she began experimenting with her camera at the family country house and later studied photography and graduated from the Academy of Fine Arts. Sara is interested in telling real stories of the people that surround her through analogue photography and soft lights that help her create an intimate dialogue. 

In 2019 she also co-founded Mulieris magazine.

Editor: Margherita Basso Photographer: SaraLorusso

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What makes Bologna special?

Bologna is special to me because it is where I was born, the place I always think of as home. I actually grew up in the province to me, going to University in Bologna was the first gesture of independence. In Bologna I found a great art culture, food and meaningful relationships. It is a welcoming city, sometimes too welcoming. In Bologna I experienced love and walking these streets I remember many beautiful moments of life that warm my heart. I would say Bologna is, for me, the place of the heart.

 

You are a photographer - where do you go in Bologna when you want to feel inspired?

The first two places that come to my mind are the places where my artistic path started. Spazio Labò, a photography school in Strada Maggiore, where you can visit photography exhibitions, and the Academy of Fine Arts, a historic landmark whose origins date back to the Carracci family. When I was studying at the Academy, I spent most of my lunch breaks in the greenery of the Botanical Garden, a magical place where I took lots of photos. Also only 15 minutes away from Bologna, I often visit Valentina and her organic flower cultivation. You can also find her beautiful flowers at the open fields market of Piazza San Rocco, in Via del Pratello. Every Saturday in the stalls  However, the place that has inspired me the most since I was a teenager was probably the Bologna Film Library, with its independent and always captivating programme. I remember going to the cinema on Sunday morning, when they organised a film screening accompanied by the delicious brioches from the Brisa ove - a bakery that grows cereals, bake bread and cakes and produces chocolate and coffee. During summertime the film library moves to Piazza Maggiore and takes the name of “Sotto le stelle del cinema” (literally “below the stars of cinema”), a free screening of a different film every night. In my opinion, it is one of the most suggestive things about the city. 

Bologna is famous for its delicious food - think of ragù to name one -What are your favourite restaurants in the city? And given you are a vegetarian, is there a veg place worth trying?

The trattoria il Meloncello, located in a very characteristic position right under the arch of San Luca, where you can taste the most traditional food: Tortellini, Tagliatelle, Gramigna with sausage and zuppa inglese. My brother's favorite place to eat Bolognese instead is Osteria Bottega, the perfect place to try the Bolognese cutlet. If, on the other hand, you want to eat in a spacious loft and feel at home, you must go to Casa Monica, located in a vibrant area famous for its nightlife. As a vegetarian I feel like recommending a very good vegan friendly restaurant: Botanica Lab. Two restaurants that to me are places of the heart are located exactly opposite each other, always in the historic part of the city called ''the herb market’’: Ahimè and Via con me. Ahimè is a simple place for every moment of the day, offering traditional food with a modern twist, accompanied by natural wines. Via con me instead is located on a suggestive stairway and since I've been there I can't stop thinking about its ginger and taccole fritte.

The best boutique hotels? 

On the hill of San Mamolo there’s one of the masterpieces of architectural rationalism in Bologna: Villa Gotti, that now offers 4 rooms and 1 suite. Another one is called Casa Corrente, located in the heart of Bologna, but at the same time in a really peaceful and quiet street.

Tell us your favourite shops (especially, where can we find the best tortellini to bring home?

I was lucky enough to grow up with a grandmother who was a “sfoglina” (which means someone who makes sfoglia, a type of fresh pasta which resembles a sheet), so at our house every was always homemade: tortellini, lasagne, tortellini, passatelli…everything. The dish I grew up with? Handmade cocoa tagliatelle with speck and radicchio. For fresh pasta, however, Atti is the place to be in Bologna. If you want to discover the authentic Bologna, you have to check out Drogheria della Pioggia, a small shop where you’ll find everything for the home. The windows of Pioggia grocery store are a journey through time and they are worth the visit.  Next to it there’s Disco D'oro, an iconic music shop from the seventies until now. Head towards via Pescherie Vecchie, where there still are very beautiful historic shops such as the Dante Zanetti bakery. Finally, a visit to the independent bookshop Modo Info Shop, specialized in art, illustration, politics and culture, is a must.

Things one has to absolutely see in the city to grasp its essence?

Strolling under the arcades all the way to the Santuario di San Luca. Reaching the 300 steps that take you to the top of a hill in the heart of San Pellegrino Park and admiring Bologna from above or laying down for a picnic. Reading a book while having a coffee at the bar Rubik. Visiting the antiques market in Piazza delle Sette Chiese held there every second Sunday of the month and the San Francesco Charity Market in the Basilica di San Francesco. Passing by Lucio Dalla’s house along via D'Azeglio and waiting for 6 pm to hear his songs resound in the street. Renting a book in the Salaborsa library and reading it at the foot of the Neptune fountain in Piazza Maggiore. Walking around Giardini Margherita and stopping at Serre for an aperitivo al fresco. 

Your suggestions for aperitivo or late night drinks?

I would suggest Volare, a tribute to the 60s with its bitters and forgotten liquors, where you will find an old jukebox and other vintage artifacts. Another place I really like is Bivio, a bar with an incredible selection of natural wines. They’re motto is “authentic and sincere wines in the center of Bologna”. A place where you’ll feel right at home and that will make you want to come back: Vanilla & Comics. Last but not least you should also check out: Guero, Ruggine and Fermento.

Any special address for art lovers? 

The museums that I recommend to visit are: Mast, a multifunctional center and exhibition space built in Bologna by the eponymous MAST Foundation by entrepreneur and philanthropist Isabella Seragnoli. Specialized in photographic exhibitions of great authors who have focused their work on the health and socio-cultural fields, Mast is a free museum and promotes access to learning, to the arts and photography. Another great museum is Mambo, the museum of Modern Art of Bologna. Mambo is focused on the history of Italian art from the second post-war to today, and also offers many activities for children - other than being one of the few dog-friendly museums. Absolutely worthy of a visit is the Monumental Cemetery, declared a Unesco heritage site in 2021. Walking around the cemetery you’ll be able to admire works of different styles and eras, with a predominance of the Art Nouveau style.

Is there a secluded place in the countryside where one could escape to?

Yes, Rocchetta Mattei and Grizzana Morandi. Only half an hour drive from Bologna, Grizzana Morandi is the birthplace of the famous Bolognese painter Giorgio Morandi, but it's also famous for Rocchetta Mattei. Immersed in the green Bologna hills, the nineteenth-century residence of Count Cesare Mattei, a politician and self-taught doctor, is an eclectic building that blends Moorish and medieval styles, creating a fairy tale place.

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