Bologna, among towers and colonnades

Lively, mellow, cultured, happy-go-lucky, traditional and innovative at the same time. That is Bologna, gathered around two towers featuring a medieval charm and amazing Renaissance palaces, a town of hidden gardens where streets are old and crossed by endless and invisible themes.

There are not plenty of monuments like in Rome or Florence, nevertheless it is a coffer of art treasures featuring a peculiarity that makes it unique before the Italians and the world: its colonnade. Actually, in no other town in the world there’s such a long colonnade, around forty kilometres around the city that represent its philosophy that means a place where you can walk and meet. The most famous one? The Pavaglione, near Piazza Maggiore, where the silk cocoons used to be sold. In Bologna the most ancient European university is based too: according to some historians the foundation year is 1088. More or less one year later, in 1200, the Municipality decided to build the town-hall where the Palace of Podestà is located now and at the same time they decided to open a big quadrangular square in front of it, the Piazza Nuova, afterwards called Piazza Maggiore, famous for its fountain of Neptune.

During the Renaissance the art flourished in Italy and this famous town from Emilia-Romagna started to rank its best artists such as Ludovico Carracci, Guido Reni and Guercino, one of the most peculiar inventors of the renewal of the light and shade painting technique. The aesthetical features of the town during the Baroque are the basic elements of the present “Red” town, one of the nicknames being given to this city, because of the “reddish” colour of its topsoil, its typical houses , its roofs and colonnade. Regarding the main landmark of this town – in the Middle Ages there were around seventy towers – two of them are the best brand of the city, they are located at the crossroad of five streets, each leading to ancient walls’ doors. What is the name of these two towers? The Asinelli tower – the higher - and the Garisenda – the smaller -, these names are taken from the family that probably built them. On clear days, you mustn’t miss the view of the rushing town from the top. As guests you must live it in a traditional way as well as with a new spirit since the new elements are coming up without any particular urge in that relaxing way that belongs to a place where the charm, the elegance and the delight are among the strongest of institutions.

That proved, you can keep on discovering the town and its treasures such as the Church of San Petronio – the biggest church in town and the Church of Santo Stefano, a group of sacred buildings that make the more famous complex of the Seven Churches, the National Art Gallery, the Archaeological Town Museum, the Medieval Town Museum, the Botanic Garden and the Finestrella sul Canale delle Moline (the little window on the Canal): under the Colonnade of via Piella, a small window will give you a postcard view: the flowing of water that slowly strokes the foundations of the houses. You have to catch the multi-faceted personality of Bologna in order to glean its most intimate secrets…

Luciana Francesca Rebonato

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