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Bologna - The Venerable University City

Bologna - the learned one, the red one and the City of Towers - accommodates the oldest university in the whole of Europe, has magnificent cultural monuments and was rightly voted the European Capital of Culture in 2000. On a walk through the long porticoes, you feel transported back into Dante Alighieri's time and can absorb the city's real spirit.

Panorama of Bologna

Geography - The seventh biggest Italian city

Bologna is a significant university city and the capital of the Italian region of Emilia-Romagna. The seventh biggest city in Italy (about 400,000 inhabitants and an area of 140 km²) lies at the foot of the Apennine Mountains near the cities of Modena and Ravenna and is an important rail hub between Northern and Southern Italy. The temperate climate creates warm to hot summers and cold winters.

Palace on the central square in Bologna

Culture - Europe's oldest university city and the City of Towers

Due to its famous university, which is the oldest university in Europe and was attended by Dante Alighieri, Bologna is called "la dotta" ("the learned one"). Other nicknames are "la grassa" ("the fat one", because of the substantial food), la rossa ("the red one", because of the red tiled roofs) and la turrita (because of its many medieval towers). Bologna's landmarks are the Two Towers (due torri), the two leaning towers Torre Garisenda (48 m) and Torre degli Asinelli (94.5 m), which offer a fantastic view of the city and are part of the former medieval tower complex. It originally consisted of 180 towers but only 20 of them could be preserved to the present day. Other characteristic features of Bologna are the numerous porticoes (roofs supported by columns), which are 38 kilometres long and connect important streets, palaces and squares. They were built to provide living space for the growing population. The upper storeys could be extended with the help of the arcades without interfering with commercial or transit traffic. Other worthwhile monuments and squares are the pilgrimage church Sanctuary of the Madonna di San Luca on the Colle della Guardia, the Piazza Maggiore with the San Petronio Basilica and the Palazzo del Podestà as well as the Piazza Nettuno with the Fountain of Neptune (Fontana di Nettuno).

The Two Towers

Experience - Mortadella di Bologna

Leatherware, jewellery and musical instruments are important parts of Bologna's local handicraft. You can buy these in traditional handicraft shops, on weekly markets or during special art exhibitions (e.g. the leather fair Lineapelle). With regard to its cuisine, tortellini and mortadella are the city's best-known products. The world-famous sausage speciality is made of pork, salt, pepper, sugar, diced bacon and sometimes pistachios. The Mortadella di Bologna has been awarded with the quality label IGP (indicazione geografica protetta) - in English: PGI, "protected geographical indication" - and is subject to strict manufacturing instructions. Bologna accommodates a great number of restaurants, bars and cafes, in which you can taste delicacies from the city and the region of Emilia-Romagna.

Bologna's cuisine

Activities - Walking through the porticoes and hiking in the surroundings

Besides the traditional sightseeing, for example during a walk through the beautiful porticoes, travellers can do a number of other leisure activities in the city's surroundings. At the edge of the city, for example, you find various golf clubs. Furthermore, the nearby nature reserves of the Parco die Gessi, the Parco Storico di Monte Sole and the Parco Regionale Abbazia di Monteveglio are excellent destinations for hikers, cyclists and lovers of nature.

Exploring Bologna's old part of town


The best time for a trip to Bologna is the spring. The summer months are popular as well, even though it can be over 30 °C hot in July and August. There are many rainy and foggy days in autumn, so that the city is shrouded and travellers may not have a great view, e.g. from the Torre degli Asinelli.

A trip to Bologna is a fascinating experience, especially for holidaymakers who are interested in culture and history. The numerous cultural monuments, round arches, squares and arcades make culture enthusiasts' hearts leap for joy, while the city's surroundings offer great conditions for lovers of nature and active travellers.

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