The red, the learned, the fat. Bologna is the main city in Emilia-Romagna, being also its most populated one. It’s always been an important city in the course of history.

The city is famous for its historical center, which is one of the biggest in Italy, for its towers and its arcades, which gave her the nickname the red (la rossa).

Furthermore, Bologna is an important economic, political and social center in Northern Italy. For example, it was the European Capital of Culture for the year 2000 and in 2006, it was designated as the city of music by UNESCO. It is also one of the main economic centers in Italy, being the headquarters of many companies, as well as home to many prestigious cultural and political institutions.

In addition to that, in Bologna, there is the oldest university in the Western world, the Alma Mater Studiorum. For this reason, it is called the learned (la dotta).
Lastly, the culinary tradition of Bologna made her earn the nickname the fat (la grassa) because there is delicious food such as ragù and mortadella.

A brief history of Bologna

Bologna is a very ancient city, whose territory has been inhabited for thousands of years. During the course of history, the city has had relevance for some events that happened there.

The origins of Bologna

The first settlements in Bologna date back to the III millennium b.C., as the artifacts demonstrate. However, it became a permanent settlement only in the Iron Age, until it was conquered by Etruscan. They inhabited the land for a long time until they were conquered by the Gauls. Then, the Romans arrived and named the land Bononia.

The Middle Ages

During the Middle Ages, Bologna was subject to many dominations, such as Odoacre, Ostrogoths, and Byzantium. Lastly, it became land of Longobards and then part of the Papal State.
Subsequently, Bologna became a free Comune and, after the fight with Redbeard, the city experienced economic and social growth. This is also the time when tower houses become popular.

But, at the end of the Middle Ages, it was conquered again by the Papal State, whose influence on Bologna lasted for centuries.

Modern history

Bologna was part of the Papal State until Napoleon and the French troops took control of the territory. However, after the Congress of Vienna, it was annexed again to the Papal State. Lastly, after short Austrian domination, it joined the Kingdom of Italy.

During World War II, Bologna was massively bombed but it was also an active center of Resistance.

Main places of interest in Bologna

Since it is a very ancient city, Bologna has many monuments and places of interest. Below, you will find the main ones, which are also some of the symbols of the city.

The arcades in Bologna

Bologna is also known as the “city of arcades”: only in the historical center, they stretch for 38 km. They were built during the period of maximum expansion of the medieval city so that they could best exploit the spaces of the city. The upper floors were expanded, meanwhile on the ground floor columns and arcades were built to sustain the buildings. During the years, the arcades have always been a social and economic center, thanks to the many shops there.

Basilica of San Petronio

Basilica of San Petronio is the biggest church in Bologna and one of the biggest in Europe. It was built in 1390 and its peculiarity is the facade, which is incomplete. In fact, the lower part is covered in marble, meanwhile, the upper one still shows bricks.

The two towers

The two towers are the undisputed symbol of Bologna, whose names are Torre degli Asinelli and Torre della Garisenda. Torre degli Asinelli is the tallest leaning tower in Italy, while the second is shorter but more inclined. In particular, Torre della Garisenda has been mentioned many times by Dante Alighieri in his masterpiece “The Divine Comedy”.

Palazzo d’Accursio

Palazzo d’Accursio, also known as Palazzo Comunale, is the headquarters of the town hall, located in Piazza Maggiore. It wasn’t built as a palace, but it became one after the merging of some buildings, among which the home of Accursio.

The fountain of Nettuno

The fountain of Nettuno is one of the symbols of Bologna, and it is located in the homonymous square. They take the name from the statue on top of the fountain, which portrays Neptune, God of the Sea. The sculpture was made by Giambologna with the aim of celebrating the greatness of Pope Pius IV. In fact, thanks to its big dimensions, Bolognese people call it al Żigànt, "the Giant".

Typical dishes and wines in Bologna

Bologna is also nicknamed “the fat”, due to the culinary tradition that has always been a big part of Bolognese culture.
Moreover, the typical dishes of Bologna are famous all over the world and they represent one of the Italian excellences in the world.

Tagliatelle with ragù

Tagliatelle is a long type of pasta that is always served with ragù, a sauce made with tomatoes and ground beef that is cooked for hours.

Tortellini in broth

Another very famous dish of Bologna is tortellini, a kind of pasta that is filled with meat or prosciutto. In Bologna they are usually cooked in a broth of beef or pork.


Who doesn’t know what lasagne is? This delicious dish is known everywhere in the world, and one of the variants was born in Bologna. Here, they are prepared with ragù.


Mortadella was born in Bologna, and it is a typical product and it even got GPI recognition by the European Union in 1998. It is a type of sausage made with pork meat, which has an intense perfume and a slightly aromatic flavor. Mortadella is a very old product, as it is documented in a book dating back to the XIV century.


Pignoletto is a typical wine from Emilia Romagna, historically produced on the hills of Bologna. It is a white wine, with a yellow color (with some green reflections), with a plain and dry taste.

Our homes in Bologna

May 27th, 2021