Bologna is the largest and (capital) city of Emilia-Romagna Region in Northern Italy. Bologna is a lively and cosmopolitan Italian college city, with a rich history, art, cuisine, music, and culture. It is the seventh largest city in terms of population in Italy, heart of a metropolitan area (officially recognized by the Italian government as a città metropolitana) of about one million people.
The city, the first settlements of which date back to at least one millennium before Christ, has always been an important urban center, first under the Etruscans (Velzna/Felsina) and the Celts (Bona), then under the Romans (Bononia), then again in the Middle Ages, as a free municipality (for one century it was the fifth largest European city based on population). Home to the oldest university in the world, University of Bologna, founded in 1088, Bologna hosts thousands of students who enrich the social and cultural life of the city. Famous for its towers and lengthy porticoes, Bologna has a well-preserved historical centre (one of the largest in Italy) thanks to a careful restoration and conservation policy which began at the end of the 1970s, on the heels of serious damage done by the urban demolition at the end of the 19th century as well as that caused by wars.
An important cultural and artistic center, its importance in terms of landmarks can be attributed to homogenous mixture of monuments and architectural examples (medieval towers, antique buildings, churches, the layout of its historical center) as well as works of art which are the result of a first class architectural and artistic history. Bologna is also an important transportation crossroad for the roads and trains of Northern Italy, where many important mechanical, electronic and nutritional industries have their headquarters. According to the most recent data gathered by the European Regional Economic Growth Index (E-REGI) of 2009, Bologna is the first Italian city and the 47th European city in