Emilia’s capital, BOLOGNA, is a thriving city, whose light-engineering and high-tech industries have brought conspicuous wealth to the old brick palaces and porticoed streets. It’s well known for its food – undeniably the richest in the country – and for its politics. “Red Bologna” became the Italian Left’s stronghold and spiritual home, having evolved out of the resistance movement to German occupation during World War II. Consequently, Bologna’s train station was singled out by Fascist groups in 1980 for a bomb attack in Italy’s worst postwar terrorist atrocity – a glassed-in jagged gash in the station wall commemorates the tragedy in which 84 people died. In subsequent decades, the city’s political leanings have been less predictable, although its “leftist” reputation continues to stick.

Bologna is certainly one of Italy’s best-looking cities. Its centre is startlingly medieval in plan, a jumble of red brick, tiled roofs and balconies radiating out from the great central square of Piazza Maggiore. There are enough monuments and curiosities for several days’ leisured exploration, including plenty of small, quirky museums, some tremendously grand Gothic and Renaissance architecture and, most conspicuously, the Due Torri, the city’s own “leaning towers”. Thanks to the university, there’s always something happening – be it theatre, music, the city’s lively summer festival, or just the café and bar scene, which is among northern Italy’s most convivial.

Book through Rough Guides’ trusted travel partners

Italy features

The latest articles, galleries, quizzes and videos.

19 places to get utterly lost

19 places to get utterly lost

One of the great joys of travelling is stumbling across unexpected places, wandering without a single destination in mind and embracing the journey. These place…

12 Sep 2017 • Keith Drew camera_alt Gallery
The most beautiful country in the world – as voted by you

The most beautiful country in the world – as voted by you

There's nothing like an amazing view to inspire you to book your next trip, whether you're drawn by rolling countryside, isolated islands or soaring mountain …

30 Aug 2017 • Rough Guides Editors camera_alt Gallery
Where to find the best beaches in Italy

Where to find the best beaches in Italy

From secluded coves to lively seafronts, there are plenty of places to sun worship in Italy. But with an increasing number of hotels charging for access to the …

20 Jul 2017 • Rough Guides Editors insert_drive_file Article
View more featureschevron_right

Weekly newsletter

Sign up now for travel inspiration, discounts and competitions

Sign up now and get 20% off any ebook