Bologna, A UNESCO Creative City Of Music

Bologna street art

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This post is by Marica Gatti.

Since 2006, Bologna has been a UNESCO Creative City of Music. This important acknowledgment celebrates the city’s long history of musical creation, from classical music to contemporary musical experimentation.

As soon as you set foot in Bologna, you will understand why it is a city of music: talented musicians play in the streets of the historic centre; there are posters everywhere advertising music events in theatres or concert halls; and local and international bands delight listeners in bars and clubs.

What Are UNESCO Creative Cities?

The UNESCO Creative Cities Network (UCNN) is a project created in 2004 that now includes 246 cities. By being part of the UNESCO Creative Cities Network, these cities commit to placing creativity and cultural industries at the centre of their development plans by developing partnerships involving the public and private sectors. This commitment should result in everything from developing cultural hubs to improving access to the city’s cultural life for marginalised groups and individuals.

This UNESCO network comprises seven creative fields: Music, Literature, Cinema, Craftsmanship and Folk Art, Design, Media Arts, and Gastronomy. Within Italy, Pesaro is also a Creative City of Music.

Large street band with musicians with different instruments
Street band in the Piazza Grande (photo by sterlinglanier Lanier on Unsplash)

Why Is Bologna A UNESCO Creative City Of Music?

Bologna stands out for its musical production and offering. Particularly remarkable is the city’s classical music seasons, linked to Bologna’s popularity between the 17th and 19th centuries, when famous composers like Mozart and Rossini spent some time here.

The classical music tradition was later joined by other genres, particularly jazz. The city is also the birthplace of Italian singer-songwriters such as Lucio Dalla, Gianni Morandi, and Cesare Cremonini, who all made their mark on Italian music. The city’s music scene is not limited to these musical genres: there is an active underground rock and rap scene that contribute to making Bologna a unique music venue.

Lastly, many institutions in Bologna curate and organise the city’s musical offerings, including the Teatro Comunale, the Accademia Filarmonica, and the University.

Music In Bologna

With all the festivals, events, concerts, and musical institutions, Bologna’s musical offering has something for everyone.


Bologna organises music festivals throughout the year, many of which feature international artists. Here are some of the most popular festivals.

Bologna Festival

Established in 1982, the Bologna Festival was the city’s first classical music festival. Taking place from April to November, the festival’s programme includes five different sections, with the most interesting ones being the Grandi Interpreti, dedicated to the great classical repertoire and symphonic masterpieces, and Il Nuovo l’Antico, which combines early music with 20th century and contemporary music.

Seated man playing a guitar with a dog at his feet. A woman in a blue dress is walking past.
A street musician in Bologna (Photo by Marco Testi on Unsplash)

Bologna Jazz Festival

Bologna has deep links with jazz music. International artists like Ella Fitzgerald and Benny Goodman visited the city’s Circolo del Jazz and inspired the formation of local jazz bands. The love that the city has for jazz music translated into the creation of the Bologna Jazz Festival in 1958, which is still held annually in November.


Countless locations around the city host concerts and live music events every week. The two most popular concert venues are the Unipol Arena and Estragon Club. But if you are more curious about listening to local or emergent artists, you should head to Freakout Club and Locomotive Club.

Unibo Orchestra And Choir

The University of Bologna (Unibo) engages with local citizens through many ongoing musical events. The Collegium Musicum, Choir and Orchestra gathers students and professors with outstanding musical talent to be part of various groups which are musical points of reference in the city.

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How To Learn About Music In Bologna

Besides attending concerts and festivals, you can visit several venues in the city to learn more about Bologna’s music history.

Municipal Theatre Of Bologna

The Municipal Theatre has been the city’s musical institution since 1700. It hosted countless concerts and performances, and you can get to know its two-century-old music tradition by joining one of the guided tours offered. The Municipal Theatre is also one of the best venues in Bologna for attending concerts and music performances.

Man wearing a hat and playing a clarinet. He is in a room with no other people but crowded with his belongings
Man playing clarinet (Photo by Francesco Luca Labianca on Unsplash)

International Museum And Library Of Music

The International Museum and Library of Music is one of the most important institutions in Europe dedicated to music history. The museum displays a fabulous collection of old musical instruments and historical documents belonging to Padre Martini, an important musical personality of the 18th century.

The House Of Lucio Dalla

Lucio Dalla was one of the most prominent Italian singer-songwriters. He was born and raised in Bologna and lived in the city for most of his life. Lucio Dalla’s house in Via D’Azeglio is open to the public every Friday, and offers guided tours through which you can learn all about Dalla’s music and eccentric personality.

Marica Gatti was born and raised in Italy and currently lives in Rome. With a degree in Cultural Anthropology and a true passion for travelling, she works as a freelance travel writer as she loves writing about her experiences in Italy and beyond.

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Bewitched By Italy is owned and managed by Karen Warren.

I have been writing and travelling for many years (almost 70 countries at the last count), but Italy remains one of my favourite destinations. This website is my attempt to inform and inspire other travellers, and to share some of the things I’ve discovered along the way. Read more…


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