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Bologna, the capital of Emilia-Romagna, is the seventh Italian municipality for population, with almost 400,000 inhabitants. A famous popular saying defines it: “La turrita, la dotta e la grassa” (the turreted, the learned and the fat), with a clear reference to the medieval towers of the centre, to the famous and ancient university and to the inimitable local cuisine.
This definition is undoubtedly correct, but not entirely complete, as Bologna is also one of the most beautiful cities of art in Italy, a city able to attract more and more visitors and finally a people-oriented city. Here life is pleasant in fact. Obviously, as all the major Italian, European and world metropolises, it is plagued by inevitable inconveniences but, despite this, it continues to build a reputation with perseverance and obstinacy and to be appreciated especially for the life standards and the suggestions that it can offer. In 2009 the European Regional Economic Growth Index conducted a research on the economic growth rate: Bologna was the first Italian city and 47th in Europe. As mentioned it is home of a famous university, which allows it to host many Italian and foreign students who animate the cultural and social life all year long. All this things make Bologna a living and young city, renowned for its nightlife. Another key feature are the towers and the long covered walkways of the best preserved and most extensive historical centre in Italy.
The origins of Bologna are very ancient, this area has been inhabited since the 9th century B.C. The city was already an important center of trade and exchange since the Etruscan age. The earliest connections with the Hellenic culture date back even to 1000 years before Christ, these connetions were a bridge to the rest of continental Europe. Bologna during its history has had several names: Velzna/Felsina with the Etruscans, Bona with the Celts and Bononia with the Romans. This has certainly not hindered it from being an important city center ever since. The Middle Ages coincided with the time of maximum splendour, in fact in this period it became the fifth most important city of Europe. Bologna had an impressive cultural and economic growth: this boom arose from the birth of the first University of the world at the end of the first millenium (1088). In the Renaissance period it first came into the hands of the Bentivoglio family and then to those of the Papal government. The passage to the Papal State dates back to the beginning of the sixteenth century (1507) and lasted until 1796, that is to say until the arrival of Napoleon and the French troops. However, the French parenthesis lasted little: following the Congress of Vienna of 1815 Bologna returned to the hands of the Papal State. For a short period the Austrians settled there. It was then annexed, with the plebiscite of 11-12 March 1860, to the Kingdom of Sardinia, which became the Kingdom of Italy exactly 12 months later.
The unification of Italy here was lived with that typical social and citizen participation of the Bolognesi. The World War II had devastating effects on the city: at the end of the conflict in fact, 44% of the building assets had been destroyed or badly damaged. The reconstruction from the wounds left by the war damages began from 1960. The destroyed part was rebuilt with innovative architectural solutions. Bologna has played an important role in the period of resistance and since the postwar period this place has always been the bastion and flagship of the administrations of the left.
Today the city represents an important cultural and artistic center, although it must be said that this role sometimes struggles to be recognized. This stems from the fact that Bologna lacks a “masterpiece” of world renown able to attract visitors in mass, however it is impossible to question its artistic and monumental importance. This city is characterized by a homogeneous set of monuments (churches, medieval towers, historic buildings) and works of art, the result of a first-class architectural and artistic history. There is a substantial difference between Bologna and the other major Italian cities. In the other metropolises the architectural works are more important than the design of the city, here it’s the opposite. The city is also characterised by its extraordinary and endless covered walkways. Combine these structures on a single path and it would reach the length of 40 kilometres. It is through the colonnades that the tourist discovers the city and its monuments. Bologna is also an important business and Congress centre, with state-of-the-art infrastructure and services: noteworthy in this area is the Palace of Culture and Congresses. It is also home to prestigious economic, cultural and political institutions and one of the most advanced trade fair districts in Europe. In the year 2000 it was “European Capital of Culture” and from 2006 it’s UNESCO “City of Music”.
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