|Bologna's fame is closely linked to the
reputation and prestige of the Alma Mater Studiorum. Renowned throughout
Europe, the University of Bologna has always attracted students from all
over the world. Bologna is not a city which attracts mass tourism, but
instead it welcomes curious and attentive visitors.
Bologna is a city with turrets and porticos which stretch out for kilometres, but it is not ostentatious. Often, the city's most valuable treasures can be found tucked away in magnificent Renaissance palaces, in churches which have been deconsecrated and restored, beneath gateways or inside courtyards.
The city attracts a considerable amount of visitors each year to a variety of exhibitions. It offers an excellent infrastructure and quality services, which facilitate visitor's stays and help render them as pleasant and enjoyable as possible.
The historic city centre ' which is separated from the rest of the city by ancient walls - the Porte and a ring-road ' is still reminiscent of an ancient Roman castrum (fortification), with its network of roads, intersected by both major and minor decumani (Roman roads). Inhabited by both locals and students, this area represents the focal point of the city's cultural, economica and social life.
The political and religious heart of the city can be found on the Medieval Piazza Maggiore, which can be accessed via the symbolic Piazza del Nettuno on which stands a statue of the Roman god Neptune. The piazza - a popular spot for daily walks ' is living proof of the city's glorious history. It is dominated by the incomplete façade of the Basilica di San Petronio as well as numerous other elegant Medieval buildings. Even today, it evokes memories of a bygone era when Bacchanalian parties and public feast days were held here.
Another area which has retained its original sturcture is the Ghetto Ebraico (or Jewish Ghetto). This fascinating district is characterised by its narrow, labyrinthine streets and craftsmen's workshops.
Beyond the city walls, the rest of the city looks different. This is a result of the urban development which took place after the Second World War. The reconsturctions which took place after the bombings radically altered the appearance of the city, particularly in the area around the train station. One of the plans which were set in motion for this urban renewal was the widening of the Vie Ugo Bassi, Rizzoli and Indipendenza, to enable them to accommodate more shops and businesses in the name of commercialisation.
Bologna is divided up into districts, the names of which are taken from those of the gateways in the ancient city walls. Much of Bologna's charm is derived from its beautiful gardens which are dotted throughout the built-up urban areas. These render the areas an altogether more pleasant place to live.
The exhibitions district is relatively modern. It is characterised by the extremely modern Kenzo Tange Towers, and was perhaps originally contructed with the aim of glorifying Bologna's historic Due Torri (Two Towers). The district is also home to the Galleria Comunale d'Arte Moderna (Municipal Gallery of Modern Art), which is housed in a building designed by Leone Pancaldi. This building is linked to the Palazzo dei Congressi which was conceived by Melchiorre Bega.
Another typical feaature of Bologna is its hills. Here, you can take long walks and visit ancient villas, convents and sanctuaries. The unmistakeable Sanctuary of the Blessed Virgin of San Luca stands on the della Guardia hills. From the top, it is possible to take in a magnificent panoramic view of the plains.