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Bologna is the capital city of Emilia-Romagna, in the Po Valley of Northern Italy. The city lies between the Po River and the Apennine Mountains, more specifically, between the Reno River and the Savena River. Home to the oldest university in the Western world, University of Bologna, founded in 1088, Bologna is one of the most developed cities in Italy. Bologna often ranks as one of the top cities, in terms of quality of life in Italy: it was ranked 5th in 2006, and 12th in 2007, out of 103 Italian cities. This is due to its strong industrial tradition, its wide range of highly-developed social services, and its physical location at the crossing-point of the most important highways and railways in the country. Bologna is a lively and cosmopolitan Italian college city, and it has a rich history, art, cuisine, music and culture, and was made 2000's European Capital of Culture. Bologna, also, did not make it as a 'world city', unlike Milan and Rome, however GaWC described Bologna as being part of the 'high sufficiency' category, along with other cities such as Lyon, Canberra, Sacramento and Las Vegas.
During World War II, Bologna was a key transportation hub for the Germans. Its capture by the Polish 3rd Carpathian Infantry Division on April 21, 1945 led to the liberation of the Po Valley and the collapse of German defenses in northern Italy. It was also a centre for the Italian Resistance and after World War II became a stronghold for the Italian Communist Party.
Until the early nineteenth century, when a large-scale urban reconstruction project was undertaken, Bologna remained one of the best-preserved medieval cities in Europe; to this day it remains unique in its historic value. Despite having suffered considerable bombing damage in 1944, Bologna's historic centre, one of Europe's largest (after Venice), contains a wealth of important Medieval, Renaissance, and Baroque artistic monuments.
Bologna's large student population has largely contributed to the city’s vibrant and varied nightlife. "Erasmus" nights are hosted at several bars to cater specifically for international students studying on exchange. A few clubs particularly geared towards "Erasmus" are the Corto Maltese and the Lime Bar, both offering significant discounts for foreigners on party nights. There are a number of clubs of differing styles and modes to cater for all music tastes. These venues have been known to stay open late into the night with many energized partygoers not arriving at the venue in question until 1am to start their night fueled with drinking and dancing.
Bologna experiences a Humid subtropical climate (Köppen climate classification Cfa) characteristic of Northern Italy's inland plains, with very hot summers and cold, humid winters. Temperatures exceed 30 °C (86 °F) often from May to early September and heatwaves are very common during the summer. Because of the high rate of humidity, perception both of heat in summer and cold in winter are amplified. Due to humidity, fog is very common during late autumn and winter as in most parts of Northern Italy.
Bologna is home to Guglielmo Marconi International Airport, expanded in 2004 by extending the runway to accommodate larger aircraft. It is the tenth busiest Italian airport for passenger traffic with over 4 million passengers per year in 2007 and is an intercontinental gateway.
Bologna Central Station is considered the most important train hub in Italy thanks to the city's strategic location. Also, its goods-station (San Donato) with its 33 railway tracks, is the largest in Italy in size and traffic.
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