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Bologna by day is full of rich history and culture. By night the city comes alive with action. The university keeps the scene youthful, but the plethora of classical activities such as theater and opera play an important role as well. Bologna is praised for its nightlife scene. Simply walking around the major piazzas can lead to a fun night as you are sure to find the happening bars and mingle with locals en route.
To start out for a drink or espresso, why not stick nearby the University which of course has several late night hotspots. Via Belle Arte and Via Zamboni in this area have lively bars which will be a great place to start your night.
But if you are in the mood for dancing, Bologna's most prestigious nightclub may be your next stop. Matis not only has a large dance floor and great local and international DJs but, also has live performances and dancers depending on the night. If you fall in love with the place so much, you can also make it your dinner joint in the adjoining ristorante. Similarly, Corte degli Aranci is a great place to go dancing and hear upbeat electro but you can make it your dinner spot as well; they have a great pizzaria. Bollicine is also a clubber's paradise and is located at Via del Carpentiere.
If indie rock and live shows are your comfort zone, then you absoluty have to check out Covo Club - they have an incredible up to date facebook page as well. This legendery nightclub has hosted some of the biggest indie rock bands before they were big on the world stage. Catch and live show and stick around after the show because there is always a good DJ and plenty of dancing.
If it is the classics you crave, there are many theaters throughout the city but the favorite is Teatro Comunale. Opera lovers will fawn over the gorgeous Teatro Comunale which is the place to see opera. Here's an up to date link to their website.
Bologna nightlife pretty much depends on what you want to do. If you're happy with drinking yourself sick just stick around the university area, plenty of bars and mini markets selling beer, plenty of chances of getting laid with other drunk people, or of getting smacked in the face.
If it's concerts you're looking for, then Bologna has a surprisingly wide choice: Freakout Club for metal and hardcore, Atlantide for punk hardcore and LGBT, Tpo and Sottotetto for reggea dancehall, Link for electronic music and Xm24 for whatever. Lazzaretto if you're raving like it's 97.For most of these places you'll need a car though or a night shuttle bus.None of the clubs mentioned here are regular clubs, more like squat places ( Freakout and Lokomotiv are the exceptions and you'll need some membership card, while Link used to be a squat place and sold out and now is a pretty hip electronic music venue), where music is good and drinks are cheap and you'll meet loads of people, of different kinds for sure.
If you're on Erasmus you'll probably end up just in the university area, and never get out of it so don't bother reading the first part of this article. Overall Bologna can offer much, look for listings or posters around for concerts and events, there's always something.
If you're unfortunate enough to land in Bologna in August then the matter is different. Italians don't seem to understand that life goes on in the summer and that not everybody just vanishes into thin air and you'll still need to drink, eat and find some kind of leisure. Being a university city, where most of the students are not from Bologna itself ( you really need to love Bologna if you decide to be born and study there... ), everyone leaves in the summer and tourists are pretty much left to themselves.