BOLOGNA, Italy, Jan. 5 (UPI) -- Officials in Bologna believe restoring its canals, paved over in the name of progress 50 years ago, will make the Italian city more attractive.
Mayor Flavio Delbono announced the project Tuesday, saying the first canal to be reopened will be the Reno, the Italian news agency ANSA reported. A small stretch of that canal remains above ground.
''I hope the reopening of the canal can be considered in a calm fashion, in order to create a comfortable and attractive place in this striking stretch of Bologna,'' he said.
Bologna's canals date to the late Middle Ages and were dug between the 12th and 16th centuries. Five canals still survive, although mostly underground, including the Navile, which carried shipping traffic from Bologna to the Po River.
The restoration of the Reno Canal, scheduled to take 18 months, will also expose a bridge that carried traffic over the Reno River during Roman times.
Delbono said the canals, which helped make the city one of Europe's major industrial cities, can lure tourists as the canals of Strasbourg, France, Bruges, Belgium, and Birmingham, England, do now.