Welcome is Bologna

The Women of Bologna

Bologna (BO)

Date of last update: 04/09/2018, 15:18


This is an invitation to discover an essential aspect of Bologna: the history of ‘its’ women,  both those who became famous and the manifold who remained in the shadows, but gave rise to an important historical and social season in the name of pacifism, anti-militarism, defense of the workers, of the struggle for social services and nursery schools.

This is a nice story full of figures a little bit special for their time, such as Caterina de' Vigri, or ‘da Bologna’ (Bologna, 1413-1463), founder and first abbess of the monastery of the Poor Clares of Corpus Domini in Bologna canonized in 1712, or the  painter Elisabetta Sirani (Bologna, 1638 -1665) considered one of the leading European artists of the seventeenth century. Bologna was the most prolific 'workshop' of Italian women artists, also thanks to the protection of their fathers. This is the case for Elizabeth Sirani, but also for Lavinia Fontana, daughter of  Prospero.
Another protagonist is Laura Bassi Veratti (Bologna, 1711-1778), the second woman to graduate in Italy; the first, however, to pursue an academic and scientific career in Europe and the first woman in the world to get a professorship at the university. A few years later, Clotilde Tambroni (Bologna, 1758-1817) philologist and poet obtained the chair of Greek Language at the University of Bologna, without even owning a degree.

Arriving at the contemporary history, the figure of Irma Bandiera (Bologna, 1915 - Bologna, 1944) stands out among the others: she was a ‘partisan courier’ who was tortured and then shot by the fascists. Her memory was honoured with a Military Gold Medal.  She was a symbol for many women who contributed to build and strengthen democratic institutions over the years. This story still continues today with many women who run local governments.


The stories of these women as well as more recent ones are collected in Biblioteca Italiana delle Donne di Bologna (Italian Women's Library in Bologna Via del Piombo, 5 - Tel. +39 051 4299411 - bibliotecadelledonne@women.it) which is the most important Italian library specializing in women's culture, gender studies and feminism. It has a collection of about 30,000 volumes - more than 20,000 already entered in the unique catalog of the National Library System, and 495 periodicals, 141 of which are active.
The Library is managed by the Orlando Association, through an agreement with the Municipality of Bologna for the "Centre of Documentation, Research and Initiative of Women of the City of Bologna", with the support of Regione Emilia Romagna, and thanks to funding from the Ministry of Heritage and Cultural activities and the CARISBO foundation.