Capital of the Metropolitan city and of the Emilia-Romagna region, Bologna is located between the Tuscan-Emilian Apennines and the heart of the Po Valley. Due to its position between North and South, East and West, the Adriatic coast as well as cities such as Venice, Florence, Milan and Rome can easily be reached from Bologna.
City of art, culture and commerce, with a streamlined trade-fair organization and a well-known manufacturing and motor tradition, Bologna is famous for its almost 40 km of arcades, the longest in the world, recently named a UNESCO Heritage Site.
Also called “The Learned” for its old University, and “The Fat” for its food tradition, the city is also a “UNESCO creative City of Music” and has one of the largest and most well-preserved medieval historical centres, full of restaurants, taverns, theatres and shops.
Home of many famous artists such as Giorgio Morandi, Guido Reni, the Carraccis, Guercino, and Aspertini, its charm has also charmed notable people like Mozart, Carducci, Dante, Rossini and Guglielmo Marconi, winner of the Nobel Prize in Physics.
Rich in art and history, Bologna will amaze the visitor in all seasons, with its enjoyable and lively summer atmosphere or with the magic of Christmas illuminations.
A first look at the city is from the beautiful Piazza Maggiore where medieval palaces look down upon an intense public life and economic activity. They perfectly combine with modernity, while preserving their antique charm. For instance Palazzo d'Accursio, home of the municipal administration, houses inside its ancient walls the Art Nouveau-style Salaborsa multimedia library as well as Roman archaeological excavations, visible from a modern glass floor.
Among the symbols of Bologna there are the Neptune Fountain by Giambologna, and the medieval towers, particularly the magnificent Two Towers: Asinelli tower (98 m) and its neighbouring “twin” Garisenda (48 m, also mentioned in Dante's Inferno).
Alma Mater Studiorum is the oldest Western University. Its first prestigious location was the Archiginnasio, whose walls are decorated with the coats of arms of the students. Here it is possible to visit the Anatomical Theatre, where practical lessons of cadaver dissection took place in the past.
Walking along the ancient streets and the never-ending porticoes, canals are an unexpected surprise. They date back to the 12th century and can be visited underground too.
A rich heritage of art is housed in the numerous Museums and Galleries, as well as in the multitude of religious buildings. Among them, a special mention should be made to the complex of Santo Stefano, the one of San Domenico with the Saint's marble tomb by Nicolò dall'Arca and decorated with Michelangelo's sculptures, and the church of Santa Maria della Vita which houses another Nicolò dall'Arca masterpiece, the Pietà sculpture (Lamentation over the Dead Christ).
It is not possible to leave Bologna without having visited Palazzo Poggi, headquarters of the present University and of some University Museums or without having admired the 17th century sundial and the wonderful chapels in the Basilica of San Petronio. Other highlights are the porticoes and the organ of Santa Maria dei Servi, the small window over the canal in Via Piella, and the Manifattura delle Arti district. Don’t miss the Genus Bononiae artistic and museum itinerary, too.
Bologna is synonymous with food & wine tradition. Mortadella, “ragù alla Bolognese”, handmade pastas such as tortellini, lasagne and tagliatelle, boiled meat, certosino cake: these are only some of the foods that have made Bologna's gastronomy famous throughout the world, together with the fabulous “sfogline” (women making handmade pastas) whose lessons are attended by visitors from every country in the world. Colli Bolognesi DOC wines are famous too, like the typical Pignoletto.
Just outside the centre is FICO, the world's largest food park, where you can discover and taste the excellence of Italian food and wine.
The city is full of life both during the day and at night, with its many taverns, theatres, book-stores, squares and shops. In the charming small streets close to Piazza Maggiore, there is the lively and picturesque market of the Quadrilatero with shops of typical products. The most gluttonous visitors cannot miss the city's oldest and most renowned chocolate shop, or an aperitif in an old wine bar.
Many sport facilities, swimming pools and gyms, from the historical Dall'Ara Stadium to the most important skate park in Italy, enable visitors to practice every kind of activity. Nowadays, the ancient Bologna thermal fountains have become modern thermal spas for health and therapeutic treatments.
The city’s cultural programme is rich in exhibitions, theatre events, jazz and contemporary music festivals. A particular mention should be made of the Opera and Ballet Season of the Teatro Comunale, the Accademia Filarmonica and the Mozart Orchestra Concerts, Bologna Festival and film festivals (the best known is Il Cinema Ritrovato).
Among the various notable events, there are also Repubblica delle Idee, Children's Book Fair, ArteFiera, Nerd Show, Slow Wine Fair and Cioccoshow.
Bologna still retains its humanity and distances can be rapidly covered on foot, at least as far as the central area is concerned. Once in the city, it is advisable to leave your vehicle in one of the several car parks, since the centre is a restricted area (ZTL).
A few minutes from the historical centre, the Bologna hills to the South represent an important parkland, where it is possible to enjoy a beautiful view of the city. Architectural and monumental jewels like villas, churches and monasteries are hidden there. Among them, the Church of San Michele in Bosco and the Sanctuary of Beata Vergine di San Luca, located on Colle della Guardia. For Bologna inhabitants, the Sanctuary is the dearest and most revered place, as well as a comforting visible “landmark” when approaching the city. It can be easily reached either on foot walking along the longest arcade of the city (about 4 km) or by shuttle bus.