About Bologna

About Bologna

Bologna is a historical city, with around 390,000 inhabitants. It is the capital and largest city of Emilia-Romagna (a region in northern Italy). Bologna is famed for the oldest university in the Western world, founded in 1088, lively student population, exquisite food, typical brick terracotta-roofed architecture and porticos, theatre and nightlife.
It is considered second only to Venice in beauty by many Italians and certainly has one of the largest and best preserved historic centres among Italian cities.
The extensive town centre, characterized by miles of attractive covered walkways, known as "porticos," is one of the best-preserved in Europe.



The strategic location of the city moulded its history. Inhabited since the X Century B.C., during the Iron age, it was fortified by the Celts and became a municipality under the Romans. Huns, Goths, Lombards, Franks, Austrians and French invaders have each left traces which are still visible on the city today.
Bologna had the first city council in Italy and was, with the Liber Paradisus law in 1256, one of the first cities in the world to abolish slavery. This political activity was rooted in the lively environment surrounding the Alma Mater, as the university was known.
Bologna was named a Creative City of Music for UNESCO in 2006. Music is performed throughout the city: in the TeatroComunale (the Opera Theatre) and in clubs and inns where jazz is regularly played. There are open-air concerts and music can be heard at the Conservatory, the Opera School, and hundreds of music associations operating within the territory. Bologna's scientists have included Galvani and Marconi. Native or visiting painters and artists have included Morandi, Guido Reni, Guercino, the Carraccis, Leonardo (one of the legends about the Mona Lisa tells that this was where he painted his famous masterpiece), Giotto (there was a chapel in Piazza XX Settembre, entirely fresco painted by Giotto, which was destroyed when Bologna was fighting against the Pope), Cassini (who made the world’s longest sundial, now located inside Basilica S. Petronio), and Michelangelo (his sculpture of an angel holding a candelabra can be found on the arc in Basilica S. Domenico). Napoleon re-arranged the urban plan of the city and Carlo V was crowned emperor in Bologna's Basilica S. Petronio.

Main sights

Until the late 19th century, when a large-scale urban renewal project was undertaken, Bologna was one of the few remaining large walled cities in Europe; nowadays, despite having suffered considerable bombing damage in 1944, Bologna's 350 acre-historic centre is Europe's second largest, containing a wealth of important medieval, renaissance, and baroque artistic buildings. Bologna developed along the Via Emilia as an Etruscan and later Roman colony; the Via Emilia still runs straight through the city under the changing names of Strada Maggiore, Rizzoli, UgoBassi, and San Felice. Due to its Roman heritage, the central streets of Bologna, today largely pedestrianized, follow the grid pattern of the Roman settlement. The original Roman ramparts were supplanted by a high medieval system of fortifications, remains of which are still visible, and finally by a third and final set of ramparts built in the 13th century, of which numerous sections still survive. Over twenty medieval defensive towers remain from the over two hundred that were constructed in the era preceding the security guaranteed by unified civic government.
The most famous towers of Bologna are the central "Due Torri" (Asinelli and andGarisenda), whose iconic leaning forms provide a popular symbol of the town. The cityscape is further enriched by elegant and extensive porticos (arcades), for which the city is famous. In total, there are some 38 kilometres (24 miles) of porticos in the city's historical centre (over 45 km - 28 miles in the city proper), which make it possible to walk for long distances sheltered from rain, snow or hot summer sun.
The Portico of San Luca is one of the longest in the world (3.5 km, 666 arcades) and connects PortaSaragozza (one of the twelve gates of the ancient walls built in the Middle Ages, which circled a 7.5 km - 4.7 mile part of the city) with the Sanctuary of the Madonna di San Luca. This church was begun in 1723 on the site of an 11th-century edifice which had already been enlarged in the 14th century, and it is prominently located on a hill (289 metres - 948 feet)) overlooking the town: it is one of Bologna's main landmarks. The winding 666 vault arcade, almost 4-kilometre (3,796 m – 12,454 ft) long, effectively links San Luca, as the church is commonly called, to the city centre.


Bologna is renowned for its culinary tradition. It has given its name to a well-known Bolognese sauce, a meat-based sauce called ragùallabolognese in Italy and simply ragù in Bologna, which is customarily used to dress Tagliatelle al ragù. Situated in the fertile Po River Valley, the rich local cuisine depends heavily on meat and cheese dishes. The production of cured meats, such as prosciutto, mortadella and salami, plays an important role in the local food industry, as it happens in the rest of the region Emilia Romagna. Well-regardednearbyvineyards include Pignoletto dei Colli Bolognesi, Lambrusco di Modena and Sangiovese di Romagna. Tagliatelle al ragù, lasagne, tortellini served in broth, and mortadella, the original Bologna sausage, are among the local specialties you can enjoy in Bologna.