The celebrated four-day beauty fair Cosmoprof kicks off today, part of trade show organizer BolognaFiere's 30-event calendar, which features some of Europe's biggest shows. These include the automotive industry's Bologna Motor Show and leather fair Lineapelle, as well as expositions in the health care, technology, building materials and machinery industries, among others.
The organizer recently announced its collaboration with Prêt à Porter Paris to bring Link, a Parisian trade show of 80 high-end women's and men's wear firms, to Bologna June 19 to 22.
"Bologna accepted Link with enthusiasm," said Massimiliano Bizzi, president of M.Seventy, Link's organizer. "It's a city that has the energy and creativity to support this type of trade show."
Unlike some of the nation's other traffic- and tourist-clogged cities, this postcard-pretty medieval town is framed with 25 miles of elegant porticos and can be crossed on foot in half an hour.
Ranked as Italy's seventh-largest city behind Rome, Milan, Naples, Turin, Palermo and Genoa, Bologna's population is less than 400,000, but the surrounding province claims one million people, including 95,000 students. The University of Bologna was founded in 1088, was probably the first university in the Western world and crowned the city "La Dotta," or "The Learned One."
The city also has a worldwide rep for food. After all, "La Grassa" ("The Fat One," another of its nicknames) is the birthplace of the rich, meaty Bolognese sauce called ragù that's served with yellow ribbons of tagliatelle pasta; tortellini in brodo, small meat-stuffed pasta in a clear broth; mortadella ham, and sweet Bolognese ravioli, a version of a soft madeleine cake, traditionally filled with a tart apple and sultana jam.
Many of Bologna's residents are well-heeled upper-middle class, with summer homes on the Adriatic coast and countryside winter residences. While the student population nurtures the city's creativity, it includes a seedy backdrop of drug dealers and street drinkers.
"This part of Bologna has dragged down the city's economic reality," claimed Elena Molignoni, senior researcher for Nomisma, a research firm founded by Italian ex-president Romano Prodi that follows the city's retail, economic and cultural trends.