Encyclopedia  |   World Factbook  |   World Flags  |   Reference Tables  |   List of Lists     
   Academic Disciplines  |   Historical Timeline  |   Themed Timelines  |   Biographies  |   How-Tos     
Sponsor by The Tattoo Collection
Main Page | See live article | Alphabetical index


Bologna is a city in Emilia-Romagna in northern Italy, between the Po River and the Apennines. Bologna was a Roman colony which survived as a medieval city to become a centre of learning and then a major city of the Renaissance papal states.

The University of Bologna, founded in 1088, is widely regarded as the oldest existing university in the world, and was an important center of European intellectual life during the Middle Ages. Gratian and Irnerius, two of the formative influences on legal study both taught at the university in the 12th century, and its students included Dante, Petrarch, Thomas Becket, Erasmus, and Copernicus. Bologna is still very much a university town, and its population rises from 400,000 to nearly 500,000 whenever classes are in session.

Over the centuries, Bologna has acquired many nicknames. "Bologna the learned" is a reference to its famous university. "Bologna the fat" refers to its cuisine, which is often regarded as the best in Italy. Situated in the fertile Po River Valley, the rich local cuisine depends on meats and cheeses. Tagliatelle alla bolognese (pasta with meat sauce), tortellini, and mortadella (the original Bologna sausage, with no resemblance to the Oscar Meyer product) are among the regional specialites.

Bologna is also called "Bologna the red" due to its abundance of brick buildings. The historic town center is indeed striking, with its mediaval street plan, leaning towers, and brightly colored buildings in shades of red and orange. The townscape is further enriched by elegant and extensive arcades. "Bologna the red" has also been said to refer to the city's left-leaning politics. Until the election of a center-right mayor in 1999, the city was a historic bastion of socialism and communism. It was one of the first European settlements to experiment with the concept of "free" public transport.

Another nickname for Bologna is Basket City, referring to Bologna's obsession with basketball, unusual for football-dominated Italy. The local derby between the city's two principal basketball clubs, Fortitudo and Virtus (often known respectively as Skipper and Kinder, after the clubs' principal sponsors), is one of the most intense in the entire world of sports; fortunately, violence has been largely absent in the derby.

Bologna is home to Gugliemo Marconi International Airport. Its central location also makes it northern Italy's major train hub.

Photos of Bologna

Bologna, known in Italian as Mortadella, is also a lunch meat. It is made from the spare parts of pigs, such as their ears, snouts and tails. Oscar Mayer popularized bologna with their own brand, which ran the famous commercials in which the kid sings, "My bologna has a first name . . ."