University city with Etruscan roots
During its long history the capital of Emilia-Romagna has seen many rulers. Early settlements already existed some 3,000 years ago. After the Etruscans built the basic foundations, Bologna first gained importance as a transport nodal point at the newly constructed Via Emilia in Roman times. Emerging victorious from the Investiture Conflict, the city saw its first heyday that lasted until the incorporation into the Papal States, which, in turn, greatly benefitted both art and education. Nowadays more than a fifth of all 384,000 inhabitants are enrolled in Europe’s oldest university founded in 1088.
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City with many names
Bologna has many names: “la dotta” (Eng. “the learned one”), because it has been site of a university for 950 years; “la grassa” (Eng. “the fat one”) due to its rich, heavy cuisine; “la rossa” (Eng. “the red one”) owing to the many red tiles on the roofs of houses and the overall political direction. They all reflect aspects of a very special city that inspires with diversity and distinctive charm. Bologna’s wonderfully preserved, glorious historic city centre bears the signature of many rulers and eras lined by imposing monuments, ostentatious buildings and impressive sights. Being a transport nodal point and the capital of Emilia-Romagna, it is an important pivot between north and south. The large train station alone processes approx. 160,000 people a day.
Trips to the hinterland
Trips to the near surroundings are an integral part of every visit of Bologna. Fascinating monuments and towns worth seeing line the region around the Metropolitan City. Pontecchio Marconi, only a 30-minute drive away, is home of the villa in which the Nobel laureate carried out his radio experiments. Marzabotto is the site of the best-preserved Etruscan settlement in Italy with a fascinating museum at the excavation site. Then there’s Imola, particularly popular with motor sports fans, yet also featuring many a fascinating palace. Artfully designed house walls and the almighty Rocca dominate nearby Dozza.
Urban fairy-tales, students’ dreams and historic structures form a very special city that needs to be seen. Together with the fascinating surroundings, Bologna is home of true holiday dreams for day trips and unforgettable multi-week stays.