Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Polishing an Urban Gem

According to the Financial Times, the Italian city of Bologna is embarking in a much-needed $37 billion, 15-year urban renewal project. The heart of the project will be a new railroad station designed by Japanese architect, Arata Isozuki.

My wife, Maria, and I visited the city for the first time this past July. Our intention was to enjoy the culinary aspects of the city. After all, it is birthplace of Bolognese sauce, tortellini, and Mortadella, the original baloney. We did eat very well. However, we also fell in love with the city’s small scale, its humanely urban pace, the fewer tourists than other cities in the area, its affordability, its red brick and stone buildings, and its porticos, which provide shelter from the rain and the hot summer sun.

In fact, because of its central location and it’s a transportation hub, we think Bologna would serve as an ideal home base when visiting the Emilia Romagna region as well as Venice to the northeast, Verona and the lake region to the north, and Florence to the south.

The city also serves as an education hub with the world’s oldest university in the Western world, the University of Bologna and the city boasts one of the highest per capita income in Italy.

But the city needs to improve its infrastructure, and if it all goes as planned—proposed projects include a subway, new roadways, and buildings—the challenge, as the FT story notes, is whether it will be able to modernize the 2,500-year-old city while retaining its character.

More photos can be found below:

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