Bologna is the capital and largest city of the Emilia-Romagna Region in Northern Italy. It is the seventh most populous city in Italy, at the heart of a metropolitan area of about one million people.
Of Etruscan origin, the city has been a major urban centre for centuries, first under the Etruscans, then under the Romans, then again in the Middle Ages, as a free municipality and signoria, when it was among the largest European cities by population. Famous for its towers, churches and lengthy porticoes, Bologna has a well-preserved historical centre, thanks to a careful restoration and conservation policy which began at the end of the 1970s. Home to the oldest university in the world, the University of Bologna, established in AD 1088, the city has a large student population that gives it a cosmopolitan character. In 2000 it was declared European capital of culture and in 2006, a UNESCO "city of music".
Bologna is an important agricultural, industrial, financial and transport hub, where many large mechanical, electronic and food companies have their headquarters as well as one of the largest permanent trade fairs in Europe.