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Travel: Bolonga, Italy (Part 2) July 7th/2022

The segment travel to Italy started on June 23rd and until the 28th, is dedicated to the visit of 2022 Biennale Arte, (work in progress) and then to other Italian cities.


Piazza Maggiore - Central Square

An amazing large square near to where we stayed at hotel Art Hotel Commercianti

This square in the heart of the city, is where in 1200 the Municipality began to acquire houses and land to build a square, which, on one hand, was to represent the importance of the municipal institution and, on the other, was to bring together the various city activities (exchanges, trade and services of various kind).

Tribute to Pazolini

Film Screening on the Square -Il Cinema Retrovato Festival

On the date we arrived the square was occupied by long rows of chairs all in front of a huge movie screen, on which the city was screening quality films for free to the public every night, excluding on the rainy ones, as of 9:30 pm. People would gather much earlier, to save a sit for the shows.

Only from the 16th c the square took its present shape. and begin to be known as

Piazza Maggiore, Not even the name of the King of Italy, Vittorio Emanuele II, which was attributed to the square from the expulsion of the Austrians in 1944, changed that..


The appearance of the current square, generally reflects the layout from the 15th c where the surrounding fantastic medieval major administrative and religious buildings create an amazing historical continuation. It began as the “platea communis”, the place where people gathered. It was one of the most important urban projects in Medieval Bologna, built to give prominence to the seat of city government and create a place for the market.

In 1860 Piazza Maggiore was dedicated to King Vittorio Emanuele II with a statue portraying the king on horseback; in 1943 the monument was moved to the Giardini Margherita, where it can still be found today. For the next two years it was called the Piazza della Repubblica until 1945, when it received its current name.


The City's tourist Office -

right on the square, offers guided walking tours of the old center, so the places listed below are based on that tour.

Tourist Info Office - (in Palazzo dei Banchi )

Guided tours are offered by the MEB (designed for both school groups and adult members of the public).Contacts: tel + 39 051 6569003+39 051 2911280 e-mail ++++++++++++++

The buildings on the Square

The Northwest corner opens into Piazza del Nettuno , while the Northeast corner opens into the narrower Piazza Re Enzo, that merges with the Palazzo del Podesta.

Palazzo d’Accursio - Municipal Palace former city hall (since 1336),now museum

To the west of the plaza is the Palazzo Comunale, known as the Palazzo d’Accursio

It is made up of a series of buildings that, have been added throughout the ages on to an older nucleus acquired by the Municipality towards the end of the 1200s and which also included the home of Law Professor Accursio, which it is named after..

In the mid-15th century, the palace was enriched with a clock in the d’Accursio tower

A succession of loggia-halls and chapels can be visited inside the complex:

Sala d’Ercole, Sala del Consiglio Comunale, Sala Farnese, Cappella Farnese, Sala Rossa and Sala Urbana.

The top floor of the palace is now home to the Municipal Art Collections (Collezioni Comunali d’Arte).

The entrance court

the 16th-c cordonata staircase is attributed to Bramante and originally designed for the triumphal descent on horseback of the representatives of the city government:

Palazzo dei Notai - built in 1381 by the city's notaries guild as their seat

The ancient site of the Notary order as suggested by the name and the three inkwells with goose feathers depicted on the court of arms on the façade.

Dating back to the 13th century, it was restored in 1908 by Alfonso Rubbiani who renewed its medieval appearance

Basilica of San Petronio - Duomo of Bologna

The largest and most important church in Bologna

The basilica is dedicated to the patron saint of the city, Saint Petronius, who was the bishop of Bologna in the 5th c . Construction began in 1390 under the supervision of Antonio di Vincenzo,. and its main facade has remained unfinished being only partly covered in marble by Giacomo Ranuzzi starting from 1538.

Famous is the Music Chapel of San Petronio, the oldest musical institution in Bologna (1436), whose most prestigious symbol is a still functioning organ, which, built around 1470 by Lorenzo da Prato, is the oldest in the world still in use

Carved biblical scenes at the entrance

In addition to beautiful religious decorations made by known artists like including :Francesco Francia, Lorenzo Costa, Parmigianino and Donato Credi.

Frescoed by Giovanni da Modena with scenes representing “Heaven” and “Hell”.

The church hosts also a marking in the form of a meridian line inlaid in the paving of the left aisle ifrom 1655; The Sundial is the longest in the world, measuring 67.27 m and

was calculated and designed by the astronomer Giovanni Domenico Cassini, who was teaching astronomy at the University.

Light hole at the ceiling for the sundial


Palazzo Galvani - Museo Civico archeologico

Behind the basilica di San Petronio, stands the palace ( the ancient "Hospital of Death")

in which its center a statue in honour of the physician/biologist/philosopher Luigi Galvani ( 1737 - 1798) stands.

The space was the seat of the Hospital of Santa Maria della Morte since 1347,

the building was renovated several times over the centuries, starting with the works carried out in 1565 by the Bolognese architect Antonio Morandi, known as il Terribilia, known for the added majestic portico. Only a few octagonal pillars of the cloister and parts of a 14th c loggia remain of the original construction. In 1861 the vault connecting the building to the adjacent Palazzo dell'Archiginnasio was built.

From the 15th to the 17th c this space was dedicated to the silk market, while the Palazzo dell'Archiginnasio was only built starting from 1563, with the consequent demolition of the nearby block and the opening of a large space, the future Piazza Galvani, - with the statue of the scientist adorns the center, which would have given greater decoration and prominence to the building itself

Piazza Galvani

Palazzo Galvani

The Museo Civico Archeologico has been housed in the 15th-century Palazzo Galvani since its official inauguration ,in1881. and its entrance stands where once was the church of Santa Maria della Morte.

The museum ranks among the most important Italian archaeological collections and is highly representative of local history , from prehistory to the Roman age . Its collection of Egyptian antiquities is one of the most important in Europe. It also houses a collection of Etruscan Glalic, and Roman Bologna items


Palazzo dei Banchi - former banking currency exchange center. where the money changers and bankers worked. .

Beautiful Renaissance-style palace facade (here)

Designed by Vignola in the 16th century, its spectacular façade was intended to hide the alleys of the rear market, facing the piazza while retaining the pre-existing road connections that converged here..

The palace itself is occupied by a combination of businesses and apartments. Also located behind the palace structure is the city's archeology museum and the church of Santa Maria della Vita.

The palace is connected by a portico, known as a Pavaglione, (Bolognese dialect for "padiglione" meaning pavilion) and for centuries was the commercial center for the silkworm trade, Now is connected. to the Archiginnasio of Bologna, one of the main buildings of the University of Bologna and to the city's most elegant shopes

Palazzo del Podestà, - former police and justice offices

Dating back to 1200 Palazzo del Podestà was former police and justice offices.

It was the first site of the city government exercised by the mayor, his judges and officials

A long building, with a large hall on the upper floor.

The lower floor is a double open arcade, the so-called Voltone del Podestà, through which pass two lanes of shops.

This oldest building first occupied the north side below the Torre dell'Arengo whose bell was once used to summon the population.

Its unique acoustic effect that permits visitors to speak to each other from the opposite corners of the archway., it a big attraction. There is also remains on the ceiling of the gallows

In the 16th-18th centuries the Palazzo was used as theater. In the 20th century it was frescoed by Adolfo de Carolis.

Palazzo Re Enzo

The palace is presently used to sponsor cultural events and exhibitions

The palace takes its name from Enzio of Sardinia, Frederick II's son, who was prisoner here from 1249 until his death in 1272

It was built between 1244 and 1246 as an extension of the nearby Palazzo del Podestà, which had proven insufficient for the exigences of the Commune of Bologna. It was therefore initially known as Palatium Novum ("New Palace").

In 1386 Antonio di Vincenzo finished the Sala dei Trecento ("Hall of the Three-Hundred"), which was to become the city's archive.

Piazza del Nettuno

Neptune's Fountain - Il Gigante ( in Piazza del Nettuno, next to Piazza Maggiore,)

The statue and fountain were built along with the Palazzo dell’Archiginnasio,

The design and assembly of the fountain was the work of the Flemish sculptor - Giambolgona and completed by the Palermitan architect Tommaso Laureti in 1563.

The over-life-size bronze figure of the god Neptune was completed and fixed in place around 1566

Neptune's fountaib, which today is ‘just’ a monument, was conceived with a practical purpose: to be used by the Bolognesi as a public fountain. However, residents soon began using it for other purposes as well, like for washing their clothes and/or the vegetables bought at the nearby market. In 1588, a ban was put in place to prevent such uses, and in 1604, the fountain was fenced off, basically taking away the function for which it was originally built. The fence stayed until 1888.

Palazzo dell’Archiginnasio,

First seat of the Bologna University and one of the most important palaces in the city

The Palace was commissioned by Cardinal Borromeo and was built between 1562 and 1563 to a project by architect Antonio Morandi known as Terribilia as the seat of the University (until 1803). It was heavily damaged by bombing in 1944 and was later rebuilt.

It is beautifully decorated with frescoes and 6000 Coat of Arms of graduating students

Anatomical Theater

A hall once used for anatomy lectures and displays held at the medical school

The Anatomical Theater is a well known visitors attraction in the building,

The first hall was constructed in 1595, in a different location, but it was replaced by a bigger one built between 1636 and 1638 in the current location, following the design of the architect Antonio Levanti n a carved wood.

The figure of Apollo, the god of Medicine, in the middle, surrounded by symbolic images of constellations carved in wood.

The famous “Spellati” (Skinned Men) statues by Ercole Lelli are on display inside.

One of the oldest small amazing classrooms for dissecting bodies and teaching anatomy

Memorial to Bartolomeo Folesani Riviera (1772-1795)

Professor of surgery at the Archinnasio and surgical physician at the hospital of Santa Maria della Vita ,who invented one of the tools for tonsillectomy.

His memorial fresco in honour of Bartolomeo Folesani Riviera can be seen in the west side of the upper loggia of the Archiginnasio Palace in Bologna (Piazza Galvani, 1). It was painted by Antonio Basoli in 1801.

The Archiginnasio ceased to be a University in 1803 when the University was moved to Palazzo Poggi where it is still located today

Scuole Pie (primary schools) were housed in this building for a few years and later,, were replaced by the city library

.It was first established to keep the books collected from the closure of the religious orders made by Napoleon.

The building has been the home of the Municipal Library since 1838. Biblioteca Salaborsa. with one of the largest collections of books in Europe.

The visit at this amazing first World University's building, was amazing and excited us very much so it is highly recommended.


Piazza Della Mercanzia

A square located in the Santo Stefano district, to the side of the 2 towers.

The square is an asymmetrical and busy space dominated by Gothic building, built in 1391 .Already in Roman times it was the forum of the merchants, at the intersection of the ancient via Emilia and via Salaria that led to Rimini and Ravenna.

Here the municipality set up the mercantile court which was responsible, among others, for judging commercial cases.

Palazzo dell Mercanzia

Seat of the Chamber of Commerce, Industry, Agriculture and Crafts,

Palazzo della Mercanzia has been regulating Bologna's commercial and trading activities since the late 14th c. The two Gothic arches of the entrance portico give a lot of momentum to the building, decorated with a beautiful marble balcony surmounted by a loggia:

A small marble balcony seen at the facade was used to publicly announce the sentences, after the tolling of a bell had summoned the citizens. Those convicted of what we would now call fraudulent bankruptcy were tied up in front of the central column of the lodge. In this way, the bankrupt was subjected to the humiliation of the sight of passers-by.


Piazza Santo Stefano,

5 minutes of the guided walk through the narrow lanes of the old center, loaded with attractive food shops, restaurants and bars , which are mentioned in Bologna's part 1 post

brought us piazza santo stefano , which is not one church but 4 of the former seven

Palazzo Bolognini Amorini Salina

With porticos along both long sides, the square is commonly considered as such, even if it is actually an open space (a pedestrian zone which now hosts cultural events, flea-markets and concerts), originating from Via Santo Stefano and leading to the complex that bears the same name, known as Piazza delle Sette Chiese - the Seven Churches”.

Case Tacconi

Dominated by the Basilica of Santo Stefano located on the square, the square can be also reached by Strada Maggiore formerly the Via Aemilia and via the Corte Isolani passage

On one side

Palazzo Isolani - built in 1451-55 by the powerful medieval Isolani family - a senatorial family enriched by the trade in silk and Casa Berti, (1775)

On the other, the renaissance 16th c Palazzo Bolognini Amorini Salina - notable for its frieze with terracotta heads, and the Case Tacconi a Bolognese merchant houses .

Le Due Tori -Bologna's iconic Tween Towers

Located at the intersection of the roads that lead to the 5 gates of the old ring wall (mura dei torresotti). the leaning towers of Garisenda (shorter) and Asinelli (taller) along with the "Fountain of Neptune" are the city’s most-visit attractions.

Commenced in the 11th c, the pre-Renaissance towers were constructed by the Asinelli & Garisenda families as defensive fortifications, strategically placed at the entry point point in the city of the ancient Via Emilia to warn of any potentially invaders.

Bologna developed along the Via Emilia which still runs straight through the city under the changing names of Strada Maggiore, Rizzoli, Ugo Bassi, and San Felice.

Central streets of Bologna, today largely pedestrianized, follow the grid pattern of the Roman settlement, and the original Roman ramparts were supplanted by a high medieval system of fortifications, of which their remains are still visible,

A final set of ramparts were built in the 13th c, of which numerous sections survived,.including no more than remaining 20 medieval defensive towers, out of up to 180 that were built in the 12th and 13th c before the arrival of unified civic government.

The most famous of the towers of Bologna are the central "Due Torri"

They had a military function as well as representing with their grandeur, the social prestige of the family that had them built.

The 2 Towers have also been the subject of an eponymous poem by Giosuè Carducci as part of the Barbarian Odes. Charles Dickens wrote about the towers in - Pictures from Italy

built between 1109 and 1119, is the only one open to the public. Booking is requiredonline or at Bologna Welcome Information Office.

498 narrow, wooden steps to the top of a 97.2m tall leaning medieval tower, motivated David only to climb to Asinelli tower's summit for a birds-eye view of the town

The panoramic views over the red city are incredible. To the west is the marvellous Piazza Maggiore, and Basilica of San Luca, to the south west, the ancient Roman road of via Emilia, and to the south the green rolling hills of the Emilia Romagna region.

The Asinelli Tower was used by the scientists Giovanni Battista Riccioli (in 1640) and Giovanni Battista Guglielmini (in the following century) for experiments to study the motion of heavy bodies and the earth rotation.

Is shorter in height (47 metres.) and is known for its steep overhang due to a subsidence of the land, and the foundations, so much so that Dante featured it in Canto XXXI of the Inferno. in the Divine Comedy and The Rime (a confirmation of his stay in Bologna) and by Goethe in his Italian Journey.

It was lowered for fear of it collapsing during the 14th c and and has been restored.

Palazzo Bolongetti

In the shadow of the Two Towers stands a 16th c Renaissance style palace (on Via Castiglione #1,) adjacent to the Palazzo della Mercanzia, with a portico in front, which belonged to a family in Bologna since 1200, of senatorial prominance since 1556.

It houses the Circolo Bononia , ancient Gentlemen's Club, now with a Lady for President, first in the world..


Palazzo degli Strazzaroli

Located in front of the two Towers,

The palace was built for the Guild of Drapperi, (cloth merchants and haberdashers) known as Strazzaroli, between 1486 and 1496. In designing it Giovanni Piccinini da Como was inspired by the Domus Magna of Giovanni II Bentivoglio, Lord of Bologna from 1463 to 1506. The facade of the building is attributed to Francesco Francia and has nine arches (now walled up). In the niche that surmounts the central sandstone balcony (1507) there is a statue of the Virgin and Child by Gabriele Fiorini. It is called "Madonna del Campanello" because, on the rare occasions when the curtain that covers it is raised, the bell next to her is rung.


To be Continued...


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