Summer School of Veterinary Endocrinology 2022

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About Bologna

Bologna is the administrative centre of the Emilia Romagna region, passageway between North and South of Italy.


The origins of Bologna can be traced right back to the Bronze Age. Around three thousand years ago, a population of unknown origin settled in the Appenine region. During the Iron Age, this population developed its own authentic culture and came to be known as the Villanovian Civilization.


In the sixth century B.C., the settlement of villages was eventually surrounded by the Etruscans (who brought their culture with them) and the area was transformed into the wealthy and prosperous Felsina. The population here was a peace-loving one, with an interest in both crafts and commerce. In around 350 B.C., Felsina found itself incapable of repelling a rash attack by the Galli Boi who had reached the surrounding plains: it is said that the name Bologna is derived from the word Boi or bona which means ‘city’ in the Celt language. It was only after two hundred years of Celt domination that they were finally defeated in battle by the Romans.


Bononia (as it was then called) became a Roman colony. In 187 B.C., the Roman Consul Marco Emilio Lepido had the Via Emilia constructed, thus giving the city an important position in the centre of Peninsula Italy’s road network. During the Roman period, Bononia re-acquired some of its lost splendor.


The fall of the Roman Empire also brought along the decline of Bononia. In 431 A.D., the city regained a semblance of its former vitality, mainly due to the deeds of Bishop Petronio who reinforced the fortifications, restored the public buildings and initiated the construction of the Basilica di Santo Stefano. His actions left such an imprint on Bologna’s history that nine hundred years later, the splendid Basilica di San Petronio was built in his honour on the Piazza Maggiore.


During the Middle age the city became a free city-state which reached the apex of his power in 1249, with the victorious battle of Fossalta, in which Enzo, son of the emperor Federico II was taken captive. He was incarcerated until his death in a palace which bears his name to this day: Palazzo Re Enzo.


In 1088, the first University of the world rose inside the walls of Bologna.


Bologna was a hotly contested city. It was sought after by the Church, by the Imperial powers, and by rich and powerful members of the nobility. There were many reasons for this, not least its strategic geographical location, the economic and cultural benefits brought around by the presence of the University and its flourishing markets which had been revitalised as a result of fervent activity on the part of the Corporazioni delle Arti (Coporation of the Arts).


After the alternance of various Signorie (or ‘nobilities’) and struggles, in XVI century Bologna felt under the orbit of the power of the Papal State. In the following years, various major events took place: in 1530, Carlo V was crowned Emperor in the San Petronio Basilica, and in 1542, Bologna hosted several sessions of the Trento Council. Various important institutions were transformed as a result of the papal domination e.g. the
University came to be housed inside the Archiginnasio, in order for its autonomy not to be limited.


Bologna was the papal state’s ‘second city’ (after Rome), and in the nineteenth century, it became involved in a series of historical events which changed the face of Europe. In the Napoleonic period, it was at first the capital of the Cispadana Republic and then, it left the papal state to became part of the Cisalpina Republic. During the Restoration, Bologna was restored to the papacy. However, Bologna soon became actively involved in the Risorgimento movement which culminated in the driving out of the Austrians and the definitive severing of Bologna’s centuries-old ties with the papacy. In 1859, Piedmont was annexed and became part of a unified Italy.

Today, Bologna is often seen as Europe’s cultural capital. It take pride of place in Italy’s road network and its prestigious University is world-famous. It is an ancient city with a widely-respected artistic heritage (the Carracci and Reni Schools originated here) which has promoted various cultural initiatives on an international scale. It is a city which is known for its strong identity, its intercultural exchange programmes, its towers, its gateways, its magnificent palaces and for the joie de vivre of its population.


For more information concerning the history of Bologna, please visit

You may find more information concerning tourism, services and museums at the website of Bologna's municipality.

For a virtual visit of the city visit: