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What you need to know about Bologna City

Bologna is the largest city (and the capital) of the Emilia-Romagna Region in Northern Italy. It is the seventh most populous city in Italy, located in the heart of a metropolitan area (officially recognized by the Italian government as a città metropolitana) of about one million.

The first settlements date back to at least 1000 BC. The city has been an urban centre, first under the Etruscans (Velzna/Felsina) and the Celts (Bona), then under the Romans (Bononia), then again in the Middle Ages, as a free municipality (for one century it was the fifth largest European city based on population). Home to the oldest university in the world, University of Bologna, founded in 1088, Bologna hosts thousands of students who enrich the social and cultural life of the city. Famous for its towers and lengthy porticoes, Bologna has a well-preserved historical centre (one of the largest in Italy) thanks to a careful restoration and conservation policy which began at the end of the 1970s, on the heels of serious damage done by the urban demolition at the end of the 19th century as well as that caused by wars.

An important cultural and artistic centre, its importance in terms of landmarks can be attributed to a varied mixture of monuments and architectural examples (medieval towers, antique buildings, churches, the layout of its historical centre) as well as works of art which are the result of a first class architectural and artistic history. Bologna is also an important transportation crossroad for the roads and trains of Northern Italy, where many important mechanical, electronic and nutritional industries have their headquarters. According to the most recent data gathered by the European Regional Economic Growth Index (E-REGI) of 2009, Bologna is the first Italian city and the 47th European city in terms of its economic growth rate.

Bologna is home to numerous prestigious cultural, economic and political institutions as well as one of the most impressive trade fair districts in Europe. In 2000 it was declared European capital of culture and in 2006, a UNESCO “city of music”. The city of Bologna was selected to participate in the Universal Exposition of Shanghai 2010 together with 45 other cities from around the world. Bologna is also one of the wealthiest cities in Italy, often ranking as one of the top cities in terms of quality of life in the country: in 2011 it ranked 1st out of 107 Italian cities.

Population: 401 618 (2017)

Language: Italian

Classification. Bolognese is a dialect of Emiliano-Romagnolo, one of the Gallo-Italic languages of the Romance family. It shares many common features with other Gallo-Italic languages such as Piedmontese, Lombard, Venetian, and Ligurian, and it is closer to them than to Italian.

CurrencyEuro (EUR)

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Geography

Territory

Bologna is situated on the edge of the Po Plain at the foot of the Apennine Mountains, at the meeting of the Reno and Savena river valleys. As Bologna’s two main watercourses flow directly to the sea, the town lies outside of the drainage basin of the River Po. The Province of Bologna stretches from the western edge of the Po Plain on the border with Ferrara to the Tuscan-Emilian Apennines. The centre of the town is 54 metres (177 ft) above sea level (while elevation within the municipality ranges from 29 metres (95 ft) in the suburb of Corticella to 300 metres (980 ft) in Sabbiuno and the Colle della Guardia). The Province of Bologna stretches from the Po Plain into the Apennines; the highest point in the province is the peak of Corno alle Scale (in Lizzano in Belvedere) at 1,945 metres (6,381 ft) above sea level.

Climate

Bologna has a humid subtropical climate (Köppen: Cfa).

Annual precipitation oscillates between around 450 mm (18 in) and 900 mm (35 in), with the majority generally falling in spring and autumn. Snow occasionally falls during winter and heavy snowfalls; the last major event was in February 2012, when almost a meter of snow fell in the city.

Economy

Bologna is an important railway and motorway hub in Italy. The economy of Bologna is characterized by a flourishing industrial sector, traditionally based on the transformation of agricultural and zootechnical products (Granarolo, Segafredo Zanetti). It also includes machinery (Coesia), automobiles, footwear, textile, engineering, chemical, printing and publishing industries, as well as a strong financial, insurance (Unipol) and retail (Coop Italia, Conad) activity.

The city’s Fiera District (exhibition centre) is one of the largest in Europe, with important yearly international expos focused on the automobile sector (Bologna Motor Show), ceramics for the building industry (International Exhibition of Ceramic Tiles and Bathroom Furnishings) and food industry. In addition, several important firms in the fields of automobiles (Lamborghini), motorcycles (Ducati), mechanics, food, tobacco and electronics have their headquarters in the urban area of Bologna, as well as important retail and wholesale trade (the “Centergross” in Argelato, esabilished in 1973), and one of the largest Italian food processing companies (Conserve Italia).

Culture

Over the centuries, Bologna has acquired many nicknames: “the learned one” (la dotta) is a reference to its university; “the fat one” (la grassa) refers to its cuisine.

“The red one” (la rossa) originally refers to the colour of the roofs in the historic centre, but this nickname is also connected to the political situation in the city, started after World War II: until the election of a centre-right mayor in 1999, the city was renowned as a bastion of socialism and communism in particular the Italian Communist Party. The centre-left regained power again in the 2004 mayoral elections, with the election of Sergio Cofferati. It was one of the first European cities to experiment with the concept of free public transport.

The city of Bologna was appointed a UNESCO City of Music on 26 May 2006. According to UNESCO, “As the first Italian city to be appointed to the Network, Bologna has demonstrated a rich musical tradition that is continuing to evolve as a vibrant factor of contemporary life and creation. It has also shown a strong commitment to promoting music as an important vehicle for inclusion in the fight against racism and in an effort to encourage economic and social development. Fostering a wide range of genres from classical to electronic, jazz, folk and opera, Bologna offers its citizens a musical vitality that deeply infiltrates the city’s professional, academic, social and cultural facets.”

Cuisine

Bologna is renowned for its culinary tradition. It has given its name to the well-known Bolognese sauce, a meat based pasta sauce called in Italy ragù alla bolognese but in the city itself just ragù as in Tagliatelle al ragù. Situated in the fertile Po River Valley, the rich local cuisine depends heavily on meats and cheeses. As in all of Emilia-Romagna, the production of cured pork meats such as prosciutto, mortadella and salumi is an important part of the local food industry. Well-regarded nearby vineyards include Pignoletto dei Colli Bolognesi, Lambrusco di Modena and Sangiovese di Romagna. Tagliatelle with ragù, lasagne, tortellini served in broth, and mortadella, the original Bologna sausage, are among the local specialties. Traditional Bolognese desserts are often linked to holidays, such as fave dei morti, multi-coloured almond paste cookies made for All Saints’ Day, jam-filled raviole cookies that are served on Saint Joseph’s Day, and carnival sweets known as sfrappole, a light and delicate fried pastry topped with powder sugar. Torta di riso, a custard-like cake made of almonds, rice and amaretto, is made throughout the year.

Transport

Bologna is home to the Guglielmo Marconi International Airport, recently expanded to accommodate larger aircraft. Today, it is the seventh busiest Italian airport for passenger traffic (almost 7 million passengers handled in 2015). Bologna Centrale railway station is one of the most important train hubs in Italy thanks to the city’s strategic location. It serves 58 million passengers annually. In addition, Bologna San Donato classification yard, with 33 railway tracks, is the largest in Italy by size and traffic.The city is also served by a large network of public bus lines, including trolleybus lines, operated since 2012 by Trasporto Passeggeri Emilia-Romagna SpA (TPER).

A large commuter rail service is currently under development (see Bologna metropolitan railway service).