Bologna is a beautiful and historic city in the Emilia-Romagna region of Northeast Italy. It has the oldest university in the Western world, a lively student population, excellent food, a striking brick terracotta-roofed cityscape, and lots to see and do. The city itself has a population just under 395,000 in 2020. Until 2015 it was part of a "Province of Bologna" but this was absorbed into a metropolitan area, population 1,017,000. This page therefore covers the entire metropolis, with the exception of Imola, described separately.
Bologna is famous for its cuisine (la cucina Bolognese). It is also viewed as a progressive and well-administered city. It is considered second only to Venice in beauty by many Italians and certainly has one of the largest and best preserved historic centers among Italian cities. Its architecture is noted for its palette of terracotta reds, burnt oranges, and warm yellows, hence the name of Bologna la rossa (Bologna the red). The extensive town center, characterized by miles of attractive covered walkways, known as "porticos," is one of the best-preserved in Europe.
Bologna is the seat of the oldest university in continental Europe, founded in 1088. A significant portion of its population consists of away-from-home university students. In common with other Italian university towns, it is in parts marred by excessive graffiti on its historic palaces.