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Zoom in on Bologna and the Bolognese – A City of Education and a City of Food
Everyday Life in Bologna

The Mediterranean - Zoom in on Bologna and the Bolognese – A City of Education and a City of Food

This lesson focuses on a specific Italian city - Bologna. This city is the capoluogo (capital) of Emilia Romagna. This lesson offers potential for enquiry across many different aspects of city life and development in Bologna.


Key questions

  • What is traditionally associated with Bologna?  (Beyond the stereotypes - Spaghetti Bolognese, for example, is not an Italian dish!)
  • How can Bologna and its hills be seen as a place of contrasts?
  • Why is Bologna the capital city of the Emilia Romagna region? 
  • What is meant by a historic city? What evidence is there that Bologna were an Etruscan, Roman and Medieval City? How has Bologna changed over time?
  • Is Bologna a city of culture? (Bologna is a UNESCO Heritage site for music, which suggests a curricular link and exploration of how we define culture)
  • In what ways is Bologna a tourist city?
  • In what ways is Bologna like the place where you live?
  • What does the future hold for this ancient city? What are the threats to Bologna as a city? (Focus on Earthquakes).

Subject content areas

  • Locational Knowledge:  Pupils will consider Bologna’s physical geography - its location within the Emilia Romagna region, Apennine Mountains, rivers and position in terms of fault lines.
  • Place Knowledge:  Pupils will understand what makes a place special.  They will also develop a sense of place – creating knowledge and understanding about what it is like to live and be part of the Bolognese community.
  • Human and Physical Geography: Pupils will study the human and physical features of Bologna and begin to recognize the differences between these two types of geography and how they impact on the economic development of Bologna. 
  • Geographical Skills and Fieldwork:  Pupils will analyse images and film clips as a source of information.


Additional links

Introducing Bologna

Information on the 2012 Bologna Earthquake:


Begin by searching Google Earth, zooming in to Italy and recapping the previous lesson on regions.  Zoom into the region of Emilia Romagna and ask pupils to locate the capoluogo (capital) of the region – Bologna, using geographical language to do so. Locate the Apennine Mountains. Ask pupils if they have ever visited the city or know anything about the city, and record their ideas.

Recap what is meant by population. Explain that the population of Bologna is approximately 380,000 people, and compare this to the population of the school’s closest city (for example, London’s population is ~8.3 million. The population of Manchester is ~2.5 million).

Remind pupils that Bologna is a Mediterranean City and discuss Bologna’s climate. Using the zoom lens on Google Earth, make a list of the physical features pupils can see in Bologna, and make comparisons with the pupils’ closest city.

Watch this film to give pupils an introduction to the city.

Complete a whole class reading of some basic facts using this website and record pupils’ observations. Go to Life in Italy website.


Explain to pupils that they are going to explore Bologna, and what makes it a special city. To do this they are going to enquire into a specific feature of the city. 

The pupils are going to organise their own enquiry. Explain what is meant by an enquiry and introduce pupils to the following cycle:

  • Explore what is meant by the question
  • Research the question
  • Sort through the Information
  • Record the Information in your own words
  • Reflect on the enquiry process

Explain what pupils need to do in each part of the enquiry cycle, and develop success criteria as a class for each of the different parts of the cycle. How will pupils know they have been successful? How will they know it is time to move on to the next part of the cycle? Explain that sometimes pupils may need to move forward and backwards through the cycle as new information and new questions arise.

Record the success criteria and model to the class how they can use this to support their enquiry. This success criteria and the enquiry cycle should be kept on display throughout the process.

Pupils will need to use the fact sheet for this module, the additional resources and the internet to research their enquiry questions.

Divide the class into groups and select from the key questions we have offered above. If time is limited, all groups might enquire into the same question.

When pupils have completed their research, they should regroup into mixed groups, so that pupils have an understanding about the research other groups of pupils have completed. Pupils should then continue with developing material for their final Prezi assessment presentation, including their research and that of other pupils.


Bring the class together and reflect on the enquiry process as a whole experience.  Explain to pupils that they have acquired a lot of information about one city and that they are now going to reflect on this information/knowledge.

Draw a PMI table on the board:

Positive Minus  Interesting
..................... .................... ...................

Ask pupils to contribute their ideas to the positive features of Bologna, the negative features of Bologna and elements of Bologna that are interesting or require further exploration. 

Assessment Opportunities

Formative Assessment: Pupils’ use of an enquiry cycle and self-assessment, using the success criteria.

Summative Assessment:  Pupils will have a huge amount of information to record in their Prezi assessment presentation, based on their enquiry question and the information they acquire from the other pupils in the class.

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