Bologna (city), an ancient city of Italy - the Felsina of the Etruscans, and the Bononia of the Boii - which the Romans took and colonised 189 B.C. After the fall of the empire it belonged successively to the Longobards and the Franks, and Charlemagne made it a free city. Becoming a papal possession, it was taken by the French in 1796, and formed the capital of the Cisalpine Republic. Reverting to the Pope in 1815, it was taken by the Austrians in 1849. In 1860 Bologna voted by an overwhelming majority for annexation to the kingdom of Italy.
Bologna is on a plain at the foot of the lower Apennines, 82 miles N. of Florence and 135 miles S.E. of Milan. It is an irregular hexagon of 5,026 yards round, enclosed by a high brick wall with twelve gates. The canal of Reno passes through the city, and the rivers Reno and Savena flow by it. The older part of the town has narrow, dirty streets, but the newer parts are well built and well paved, and are sheltered from the weather by colonnades. There are fine palaces rich in fresco paintings of the great masters, especially the Palazzo Pubblico and the Palazzo del Podesta The latter contains the city archives, and was the prison of Enzio, son of the Emperor Frederick II. Bologna contains more than 70 churches, of beautiful architecture and rich in art-treasures. The largest, San Petronio. has many great sculptures and pictures, and a meridian traced on the floor by Cassini the astronomer. San Stefano is rich in Madonnas and Byzantine frescoes of the 11th and 12th centuries. San Domenico has the tomb of the founder of the Order, ornamented by Michael Angelo; and St. Peter's cathedral has many works of art. There are two leaning-towers in the centre of the city, one 272 feet high, the other 138 ft.; one inclining 3-1/2 ft., the other 9 ft. The university of Bologna claims to be the oldest in Europe, and to have been founded in 425. As a law-school it dates from the 11th century. It is noted as having been a great school of anatomy, and as having for ages had female professors. Galvani was a professor here. Rossini studied at the academy of music here. There is a fine university library containing rare MSS., and a large city library. The Academy of Fine Arts - once a Jesuits' college - has a fine collection of paintings, chiefly of the Bolognese school, which takes its name from the town. Besides its sausages, its soap, and a kind of confection, Bologna manufactures crape, glass, paper, silk, and wax candles. Domenicho, Guido Reni, the Caraccis, Benedict XIV., and seven other popes, and numerous cardinals, were born here.