After I have told you of the first part of my trip at Bologna, we proceed with the rest of the day.
Continuing “Via Clavature”, you arrive at the main square of Bologna: “Piazza Maggiore”. The square is 115 meters long, 60 meters wide and is surrounded by the most important buildings of the city. To the north there is the “Palazzo del Podestà” built in 1200 to develop the public functions and as seat of Podesta and its officials. The building is crossed by two streets that meet under the archway of Podesta. Above this archway rises the Tower of Arengo, a quadrilateral terracotta tower built in 1259 with a bell that was used to call the people for extraordinary events.
To west there is the “Palazzo d’Accursio”, seat of the municipality of Bologna, the Palace is the result of the aggregation of more buildings united over time. The first palace was the house of Accursio, a lawyer and teacher of law, and in 1336 the municipality of Bologna bought the building. In XV century was added the Tower of Accursio, an astronomical clock with a carousel of automatons who paraded every daylight saving time. Significant are also the façade with the “Madonna di Piazza con Bambino” (a terracotta work of Nicolò dell’Arca) and the majestic portal of Galeazzo Alessi. I suggest you to do also a quick tour into the building and visit the fascinating courtyards.
In front of the Palace of Podesta there is the imposing Basilica of St Petronius. Despite is incomplete, this is the seventh biggest church in Europe, and it’s the last big work of the Gothic style (but it isn’t the episcopal church of Bologna, title owned by the Cathedral of Saint Peter). The construction of the Basilica, started in 1390 with a project that would been bigger than the Basilica of St Peter of Rome (according to the legend, the project was stopped by the Pope, and the project was resized), proceeded slowly and the works were completed in 1663. Instead the coating of the façade, started in 1538, wasn’t never completed. The church is really big, there are many interesting things; in particular I was impressed by the big bronze statue of Michelangelo, the altar and its pipe organs, and the sundial of Cassini (that is the bigger sundial of the world, with its 67 meters long).
On the last side of the square there is “Palazzo dei Banchi”, that in realty is a simple façade built in 1568 to replace the poor houses that before looked out in the square.
From Piazza Maggiore we moved to visit another interesting complex: the Basilica of Saint Francis. This church, dedicated to Saint Francis of Assisi, was completed in 1263 but no one knows certainly who made the original project.
During the time the church suffered various damages so was started a restoration directed by Alfonso Rubbiani and completed it in 1906. The shapes of the Basilica are Romanesque, but there are also many elements of the French Gothic style. The façade, in Romanesque style, has a portal with a marble bas-relief. Even the apse is interesting, with two bell towers and the flying buttresses, but also for the three memorials dedicated to Accursio and its son, to jurist Odofredo and to Rolandino dei Romanzi.
Finished the visit at the church, we came back at Piazza Maggiore, and on the road we stopped to have lunch; here you can taste the delicious “Crescentine” (a type of bread fried with lard and served with meats and cheeses) and the real “Tagliatelle al Ragù” (a homemade pasta topped with ragu, here called Bolognese sauce). Close to Piazza Maggiore there is another square famous mostly for the Fountain of Neptune in fact, this spot is named “Piazza del Nettuno”. Unfortunately the fountain, one of the symbol of Bologna that I wanted to see, was under restoration so I couldn’t see it.
However the square is still beautiful for the presence of the “Palazzo Re Enzo”, a palace built to extend the municipal complex, started with the Palazzo del Podestà. After three years the building became the residence of King Enzo of Sardegna (son of Federico II), taken prisoner in the battle of Fossalta, where he died after 23 years of imprisonment (about this story there are many legends like love stories and attempted escapes).
In front of the “Palazzo Re Enzo”, on the wall of Palazzo d’Accursio, there is the memorial of the fallen partisans of Bologna, with 2000 portraits and names of fallen partisans. To complete the Square of Neptune, there is the “Biblioteca Salaborsa”, inaugurated in 2001, is a cultural and multimedia space inside Palazzo d’Accursio, where you can see the remains of the ancient public and religious buildings.
From the square, looking to north, you’ll see a long and beautiful street full of stores; this is “Via dell’Indipendenza”. Built in 1890, when Bologna was an important railway junction, this street connects Piazza del Nettuno and Piazza Maggiore to the railway station. Over the fashion stores, Via Indipendenza has various fascinating and important buildings, like the “Arena del Sole” (the biggest theatre in Bologna) and the Cathedral of Saint Peter. This church suffered various misadventures, and the appearance that has today, dates back to 1754 when was completed the baroque façade. Since there isn’t much space in the street, you can’t enjoy totally the view of the façade, and if you want to take a picture of the church you need to have a fisheye lens. The bell tower of the church, is the second highest tower of Bologna (70 meters high) and is the result of two different towers, built one inside the other one.
Finished the visit at the church, we were going to take back the car and on the road we stopped to see the procession of Epiphany, with various characters that represented the Bible’s figures. Since it was early and still there was light, we decided to go out of Bologna and to visit “Selva Malvezzi”. Far away seven kilometres from Bologna, this spot is a fraction of Molinella and became famous in XV century when Pope Callisto III gave this area to the Bolognese family Malvezzi.
The Malvezzi built the small village of today, whose main buildings are: the “Palazzaccio” (one of the Bolognese Renaissance fortress still intact, now is in state of disrepair, classic Italian style) and the “Palazzo del Governatore” (residence of the governor, the building included also a hospital, stores and workshops).
To complete the day, we came back at Bologna and when it was dinner time, we chosen a local traditional tavern to taste the famous “tortellini in brodo” (a classical dish of Bologna, that consists in a pasta stuffed with meat and served in capon broth). Finished the meal, we went to hotel to prepare ourselves for the next day.
Good light to everyone