Borgo Panigale: From Countryside to Racing Circuits

An old street sign from Borgo Panigale, when it was its own separate town

Borgo Panigale became a part of Bologna in 1936

The corner of via Emilia and via Ducati in 1935

An old postcard from Borgo Panigale


In the world of motorcycling, the name Borgo Panigale evokes images of the red rockets built in the Ducati factory. Ducati motorcycles brought worldwide fame to this small Bologna neighbourhood. The history of Ducati has been analysed from every angle, but no one knows the history of Borgo Panigale... Today, Borgo Panigale looks like a lot of other urban areas surrounding Bologna - what were once endless fields and countryside is now a sprawling residential and business centre.

No one knows exactly when Borgo Panigale was founded. Some archaeological excavations done in 1984 proved that the area was already inhabited in prehistory. Based on documentation conserved in Bologna's museums, historians have discovered that the name Borgo Panigale, was first used in the Middle Ages. The first name of the area was: VICO PANICALIS. Vico in Latin means village and Panicalis refers to the cultivation of grain.

Borgo Panigale has gradually been transforming from a purely agricultural area to one with significant commercial activities. Many shops appeared with blacksmiths, carpenters and artisans working on ceramics, terracotta and more (let's not forget that Borgo Panigale is near Modena, an area famous for the ceramics). In addition to the artisans, many rich families owned land in Borgo Panigale and even today, you can find some of the prettiest and most elegant villas.

The main street of Borgo Panigale, via Emilia, was built during the Roman times and is part of a larger road connecting Piacenza to Rimini. It is the via Emilia that led to the growth of Bologna, the city once known as "BONONIA." Via Emilia was the crossroads of Bologna's transport system and the economic focus of the area grew around this important road.

Before WWI, Borgo Panigale had grown economically but it still had the look and feel of a little country village. The big change came after the WWI when Bologna grew significantly, incorporating some of the surrounding towns and villages. 

In the 1930s, 1936 to be precise, Borgo Panigale was no longer considered a separate village, instead it became a part of Bologna. Transportation to and from Borgo Panigale improved when it became an important stop on the train line connecting Bologna and Florence and when the first and only Bologna airport was built.
In 1935, the first stone of a Borgo Panigale factory was placed, bringing to the neighbourhood a company that would make it famous around the world: Ducati.

The Ducati brothers chose Borgo Panigale on purpose, knowing the importance of having access to the main transportation routes to both the North and South of Italy. From the Ducati factory it was easy to travel to cities as far away as Milan, Florence, Ancona and Genoa.
From the 1950s through the 1980s, Borgo Panigale continued to grow as more and more residential and commercial buildings appeared, giving the neighbourhood the look it has today.