Bologna, capital of the Emilia Romagna region, is located in a strategic position in the heart of Italy, midway between Milan and Florence. Situated on the edge of the Po Plain at the foot of the Apennine Mountains, the metropolitan area includes 55 Municipalities and has an overall population of about 1 million inhabitants (400,000 within the city boundaries).
With its strategic location, Bologna has been a primary crossroad of goods and people since the Roman times. Today, it is the centre of a transport and business network of vital importance for Italy and Europe. It is the major hub in the country for highway and rails. High-speed trains (Frecce, Italo) connect Bologna to Florence (37 minutes), Milan (65 minutes), Rome (2 hours and 15 minutes), Venice (less than 90 minutes) and other major destinations. Guglielmo Marconi International Airport (7.5 million passengers in 2016) is only 15 minutes away from the city center by bus. The Bologna Trade Fair District is one of the most important in Italy, hosting 27 trade shows, around 16.000 exhibitors, and almost 1 million visitors every year.
Designated as European Capital of Culture in 2000 and nominated UNESCO Creative City of Music in 2006, Bologna offers a rich and varied cultural scene. It boasts 40 Civic Museums and 1 National Gallery. The area called “Manifattura delle Arti” is one of Europe’s main cultural district, spread over an area of about 10 hectares, hosting the Museum of Modern Art in Bologna (MAMBO), the Department of Communication Sciences, the Music and Performing Arts Laboratories, and the Bologna Film Archives (Cineteca di Bologna). The latter is a worldwide renowned center for film programming and restoration, also preserving important collections such as the Charlie Chaplin archive.
Every corner of the city is full of history. Its well–preserved historical centre is among the largest in Europe. The 35 kilometers of “Portici” (arcades) as well as the red bricks of its buildings and the medieval towers are the hallmark of this unique place.
Bologna is also home to fine food and wine and offers a lively nightlife. The city center is full of restaurants and wine cellars, which often offer life music shows. Every year the City of Bologna promotes “Bologna Estate”, a summer cultural program lasting 3 months. Concerts, theatre plays, guided tours, projections, meetings and readings animate the squares, courtyards, cloisters and parks of the city centre and the suburbs to entertain city-dwellers and visitors. The jewel of the summer program is “Sotto le stelle del cinema”, 50 nights of great cinema in original language served in the main square (Piazza Maggiore).
As far as sightseeing is concerned, the list of places to see in this city is endless. A good place to start is Piazza Maggiore, a large pedestrian square right in the middle of the historical centre. From here, it is possible to have access to several important monuments: Basilica of San Petronio, City Hall Building, Portico dei Banchi and Palazzo del Podestà. A popular meeting and strolling place is Via Rizzoli, one of the main streets of Bologna. Via Rizzoli leads into Piazza di Porta Ravegnana, where the famous 12th century Two Towers, Asinelli and Garisenda, stand out. One of the famous symbol of Bologna is the Fontana del Nettuno (Fountain of Neptune) built in 1563, located in the square that bears its name, Piazza del Nettuno, just next to Piazza Maggiore. In front of the Statue of Neptune, there is the “Biblioteca Sala Borsa” (Sala Borsa Public Library), one of the most important libraries of the city.
No visit to Bologna would be complete without a stroll down the San Luca Walk, which takes you through the largest colonnades in Europe, with its 666 arches.