The City The guide was updated:Italians love to define Bologna as a scholarly, fat and red city. The scholarly label refers to the site of the world’s oldest university (1088). The fat label alludes to Bolognese food, with its tagliatelle and tortellini. Finally, Bologna is a red city because of the colour of its houses and also thanks to the political traditions of the city’s administration.
Bologna is also a city of porticos, which stretch for nearly 40 kilometres in the city centre, and of the Garisenda tower, the only real leaning tower in Italy (the leaning tower of Pisa is in fact a bell tower).
As an Etruscan settlement, Bologna later became a Roman town (Bononia). During the medieval period, the city developed into a free commune which reached the peak of its power in the 13th Century. Despite falling under the control of the Papal States in the 16th Century, the city maintained legal and political autonomy.