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Bologna (bōlôˈnyä), city, capital of Emilia-Romagna and of Bologna prov., N central Italy, at the foot of the Apennines and on the Aemilian Way. It is a prosperous commercial and industrial center and an important transportation link between S and N Italy. Manufactures include farm machinery, motor vehicles, metal goods, railway equipment, processed food, and chemicals, and the city has long been a center of printing. Bologna is also the chief city of what has been called Italy's “Red Belt” (because Communists controlled the local government for decades after World War II).

Landmarks and Institutions

Bologna has retained a marked medieval aspect; many streets are arcaded. Noteworthy structures include the Palazzo Comunale (13th and 15th–16th cent.); the Renaissance-style Palazzo del Podesta; the palace of King Enzio (13th cent.); the Basilica of San Petronio (begun in 1390), with a 15th-century doorway by Jacopo della Quercia; the Church of Santo Stefano; the Church of San Giacomo Maggiore (founded 1267, major alterations in the 15th cent.); the Church of San Domenico (early 13th cent.); and the Archiginnasio (once the seat of the city's noted university and now a library). Bologna also has an archaeological museum; an art gallery, with works by Bolognese artists, including Francia, the Carracci, and Guido Reni; and a nuclear research institute. The city's observatory (founded 1712) is the oldest in Italy. On hills near the city are the Renaissance Church of San Michele (in Bosco) and a former Carthusian monastery.


Originally an Etruscan town called Felsina, it became a Roman colony in 189 B.C. The city came under Byzantine rule in the 6th cent. A.D. and later passed to the papacy. In the early 12th cent. a strong free commune was established. The victory of Bologna over Emperor Frederick II at Fossalta (1249) added political power to the city, then known chiefly as an intellectual center. Bologna's famous university originated (c.1088) with its Roman law school (founded A.D. 425), where Irnerius and Accursius taught; medical and theological faculties and courses in the liberal arts were added in the 14th cent. In later years those active at the university included Malpighi, Galvani, and Marconi.

In politics the rivalry between the Guelphs and the Ghibellines enabled several ambitious families to seize power (13th–15th cent.). The Pepoli were succeeded by the Visconti of Milan and, after a short period of papal rule, by the Bentivoglio (1446). In 1506, Pope Julius II reestablished papal rule. The coronation of Charles V at Bologna (1530) was the last imperial crowning by a pope. The Council of Trent met at Bologna in 1547–48. Papal rule was interrupted in 1797, when Bologna was made the capital of the Cispadane Republic, but resumed in 1815 after the Congress of Vienna. There were unsuccessful revolts in 1831, 1843, and 1848, and in 1860 Bologna voted to unite with the kingdom of Sardinia. The city was heavily bombed by the Allies in World War II. In 1980 a terrorist bomb killed 85 people in the city.

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



a city in northern Italy; the chief city of the region of Emilia-Romagna and the province of Bologna. Population, 488,500 (1969).

Bologna is situated on the Reno River at the foot of the Northern Apennines in a hilly area with a highly developed agriculture, in the midst of fruit orchards and vineyards. It is favorably situated for transport, lying on routes from Liguria to the Adriatic Sea and from northern Italy to the central and southern areas of the country. In Roman times it was an important point along the Via Emilia. Bologna has railway, highway, and air junctions and is linked by canal with the Po River. It is one of the industrial centers of the country. Among the various industries, the food industry, which utilizes local agricultural produce, is outstanding in terms of the number of people engaged in it; it includes flour milling, sugar refining, the preparation of macaroni and tomato preserves, confection-making, liqueur distilling, brewing, and cheese-making. There are a number of important enterprises for the manufacture of instruments—including electronic, electrotechnical (the Ducati plant being the most important), automobile, railway, and tractor-building instruments—as well as enterprises for the production of hydroturbines and machinery for the food and chemical industries. There are various chemical, textile, sewing, ceramic, paper, and shoe enterprises. The sewing industry includes the manufacture of coats made out of a synthetic fabric known as bologna, from the name of the city where it was first made. Bologna is also a center for atomic research.

From the end of the sixth century B.C., Bologna (Felsina) was the capital of the Etruscans. In the middle of the fourth century B.C. it was captured by the Boii tribe, from whom it derives its name. In 189 B.C. it became a Roman colony (Bononia). At the beginning of the 12th century Bologna acquired the status of a city commune. At the end of the 11th century the university was founded, which was renowned in the Middle Ages for its school of law. In the 13th century Bologna began to develop into an important trade and handicraft center. A papal city since A.D. 1506, it became in 1860 a part of the Sardinian Kingdom (after 1861, Italian). During World War II it was an important center of the Resistance Movement. On Apr. 21, 1945, as a result of a popular uprising, it was liberated from the German fascist invaders, who had occupied it in 1943. Since World War II, the communists and socialists have been in the majority in the municipal organs.

Settlements of the Villanovan culture and Etruscan burial grounds of the sixth to the fourth century B.C. have been discovered in Bologna. The appearance of Bologna—with its straight and narrow streets, houses with arcades at street level forming continuous galleries, and the vertical lines of its numerous towers and the severe facades of Gothic palaces in the main squares—took shape between the 11th and the 15th centuries. In the center of Bologna are the Piazza Maggiore and Piazza del Nettuno with the church of San Petronio (14th to 17th centuries), the Renaissance gates which are the work of Jacopo della Quercia, the Palazzo di Re Enzo (1246), the Palazzo Comunale (13th to 15th centuries), the Palazzo del Podestá (13th century, rebuilt in the 15th century according to the plan of A. Fioraventi), and the Fontana del Nettuno, which is surmounted by a statue by Giovanni da Bologna (1566). Among other architectural monuments are Santo Stefano (a group of romanesque churches from the 11th to the 13th centuries), the leaning towers Asinelli (1009–1119) and Garisenda (1110, 96.7 m high), and the churches of San Francesco (13th century) and San Domenico (13th—18th centuries). There are many Gothic, Renaissance, and Baroque houses and palaces—for example, Isolani (1451–55), Bevilacqua (from 1474), and Bentivoglio (1551–55). The museums include the National Pinacoteca, the Civic Museum, the Gallery of Contemporary Art, and the Communal Art Collections.


Tibalducci, G. Bologna. Turin, 1960.
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.


Giovanni da. See Giambologna


a city in N Italy, at the foot of the Apennines: became a free city in the Middle Ages; university (1088). Pop.: 371 217 (2001)
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005
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