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Virginio Merola Bologna

“In the cities of the world, as well as in Italy, these long years of crisis have deepened inequalities. Also in Bologna the difference between those who have a lot and those who have too little has expanded, and the task of a public administration is to intervene to decrease this gap. This is why the Municipality of Bologna is pursuing crosscutting inclusive policies. Our goal is not only to keep our high-standard services, but we think it is important to count on the collaboration of citizens. This is why for many years we have worked on what we call civic imagination and collaboration. As with the OECD Champion Mayors, it is important for Mayors to join forces and share solutions.”

– Mayor Virginio Merola


Virginio Merola has been Mayor of Bologna since 2011, when he was elected with more than 50% of votes at the first ballot. Since January 2015, he also served as Mayor of Bologna Metropolitan City. In 2016, he was re-elected Mayor for 2016-2021.

Previously, he was President of the Provincial Council from 2009 to 2011. In 2004, he was elected to Bologna’s City Council and soon afterwards was appointed Deputy Mayor for Urban Planning and Housing. In 1995 he was elected President of the Savena District of Bologna for two consecutive terms. Prior to his political career, Mr Merola was regional secretary of the Italian association of Municipalities, Provinces and Regions in 1989. He holds a degree in Philosophy.

How is the
Mayor promoting
Inclusive Growth ?
The 1000 Homes Plan and Porto 15

Bologna is committed to diversifying its planned actions to ensure residents have access to adequate housing. In Bologna the stock of social housing is around 33% and significantly above the average in Italy. An important aspect of the city’s housing policy is the 1000 Homes Plan (Mille case per Bologna) the goal of which is to increase its public housing stock by 1,000 units by 2021. As part of the 1,000 Homes Plan, the city committed to spend €60 million to modernise 600 old public apartments and to build 400 new public housing units on brownfield sites, avoiding increasing land consumption.

Within the city’s housing programme, a further 3,000 housing units are dedicated exclusively to cooperatives – which aim to maintain below market levels of rent. ‘Porto 15’ is the first public housing project in Italy dedicated to people under 35 years old. In total, 18 apartments (about 45 beds) were renovated in a building belonging to the city council and located in the historic city centre. Each floor of the modernised building now contains shared service and spaces, such as a communal living room/kitchen and laundry. By working with the young people, who pay a lower than average rent, via the creation of a ‘charter of values’, which set out an agreement of what is to be expected, both the municipality and the local community benefit. The city wants to share its ideas with other cities, and has already started a fruitful collaboration with Barcelona to develop a shared model on cooperative housing.

Biciplan and Bicipolitana

Bologna is accelerating the implementation of a large cycling network across the city in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The aim is to support active modes of travel while public transport is restricted to avoid an increase in private vehicle use. The City and the Metropolitan Area had already drafted a “Biciplan” (Bike plan), within the Sustainable Urban Mobility Plan. In April 2020, the Mayor announced an acceleration of the implementation of the ‘Bicipolitana’ network, that will connect Bologna with all the main urban centres, allowing people to travel safely on 493 km of bicycle lanes.

PON Metro Bologna – Cultural Welfare Projects

PON Metro Bologna is an initiative supporting projects that use culture to promote a social and cultural role for young adults in order to strengthen the relationship between different generations and cultures. The projects aim to support the most vulnerable groups in society using languages, contemporary art and the cultures and traditions of new citizens. These actions involve and provide value to local Libraries, Museums, Theatres, in cooperation with many local community-based organisations. Funding was made available by the EU, through the Italian National Operational Programme ‘Metropolitan Cities 2014-2020’ which aims to promote social cohesion.

IncrediBol initiative

IncrediBol is a programme, promoted by the City of Bologna and supported by the Emilia-Romagna regional government, that supports cultural and creative start-ups by providing small grants, consultancy and operation spaces, facilitating the regeneration of public spaces that would otherwise be abandoned. An example is Kilowatt  one of the first winners of the IncrediBol call, that has regenerated “Le Serre”. Located in the formerly abandoned public greenhouses in the Giardini Margherita city gardens, Kilowatt was set up as a public-private partnership between the city of Bologna, the Emilia-Romagna Region and private actors from social innovation, circular economy, communication and regeneration, private enterprises, freelancers, start-ups, cultural operators and associations. The aim is to stimulate the emergence of new job opportunities, professional collaborations and social relations, new spaces of inclusion and welfare, while capitalising on urban agriculture and circular economy models for a more sustainable urban regeneration.