Sunday, May 20, 2018

Bologna, Italy, Part 2

In my last post, Bologna, Part One, I described why the city of Bologna, Italy, had the nicknames: "La Rossa, The Red, La Grossa, The Fat and La Dotta, The Learned." Now I'd love to show you more about our one day visit to this fascinating university town and capital of the Emilia-Romagna region of Italy.  (All photos and photo collages will enlarge for easier viewing if clicked on)

My husband's cousin was our tour guide this day, showing us his favorite places in his hometown. One of our stops was to Palazzo Pepoli Campogrande. The palace was built in the mid-1600's for Count Odoardo Pepoli of the aristocratic Pepoli family.  Now it is a museum and "Museo della Storia di Bologna (Museum of the History of Bologna), recounting the history, culture, and transformations of Bologna, from 'Felsina etrusca' to modern times.

I was amazed by the beauty and opulence of the palace's rooms!

The ceilings of many of the rooms contained magnificent frescos!

We especially enjoyed seeing the baroque era artwork and sculptures in the museum!

Next, we visited the Basilica of Santo Stefano in Piazza Santo Stefano

The basilica has the nickname "Sette Chiese," which means seven churches.  According to tradition Saint Petronius, a bishop of the city during the 5th century built the basilica over a temple of the goddess Isis. The saint wished to have a building that recalled the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem. Only four of the churches remain intact today: Chiesa del Crocefisso, Chiesa della Trinità, Chiesa del Santo Sepolcro and Santi Vitale e Agricola.  You can see their layout in the photo of their model above. 

The churches within Santo Stefano have an architecture that spans centuries of Bolognese history and incorporates Romanesque, Lombard, and even ancient Roman elements.

Some of the ancient frescos inside the chuch.

I was particularly fascinated by the octagonal brick ceiling of Chiesa del Santo Sepolcro, within the basilica. Enlarge the photo collage above, by clicking on it, to see how it is made of painstakingly placed small red bricks.

As we walked through the central streets of Bologna, high towers caught our attention.

A lithograph of how some of the towers dominated Bologna

Our cousin told us that once Bologna had many towers. Between the 12th and the 13th century, the number of towers in the city was plentitude. The reasons for the construction of so many towers are not clear, but one hypothesis is that the richest families used them for offensive/defensive purposes, or to indicate their wealth.  Most have collapsed or were taken down over time, but about 20 in all remain.

Two prominent towers that remain are referred to as the "Two Towers'" and are landmarks in the city. The taller tower is called the Asinelli (on the right in the photo above) while the smaller but more leaning tower is called the Garisenda.

The Asinelli Tower was built between 1109 - 19 by the Asinelli family, and in the following century, it was acquired by the Municipality of Bologna. It is 319 feet (97.20 meters) high and has an inner staircase of 498 steps which were completed in 1684. It is the tallest leaning medieval tower in the world! The bottom of the tower is surrounded by a small building built in 1488 to house the guards.  There is an admission fee to climb to the top of the tower, and although I was tempted to do so to see the view, I did not want to obligate our cousin to do something he has done often before. You can see a video of the view from the top of the tower here.

The Garisenda Tower, on the left in the photo above, built around the same time, is much smaller 154 feet (47 meters) high. The statue of San Petronio, made by Gabriele Brunelli in 1670, stands nearby

Next, we entered the large Piazza Maggiore, the main square and the heart of town. Piazza Maggiore has been the center of Bologna’s political and social life since the 13th century when the square and the buildings surrounding it began being built. (My husband in the green shirt and his cousin in red shirt). The Plazzo d'Accusio, seen in the distance, is the city of Bologna's Town Hall

We visited the Palazzo d' Accusio which was ornately decorated inside. Our cousin explained that the staircases were built on such a slant to accommodate horses climbing them, as dignitaries of the past used to arrive on horseback.

I found this print in the town hall of a view of Bologna from the air very interesting!

The Piazza Del Podesta is also located in the Piazza. Constructed in the 1200's as the first seat of the local government it is now a civic building.

The Fountain of Neptune, located near the Piazza. This famous fountain by Flemish sculptor Giambologna was built in 1564. The fountain had a practical function as it was used by the citizens to collect water.  Unfortunately, it was being renovated during our visit last summer and was completely surrounded by scaffolding and screens (left side of photo collage), so I included a photo from Wikipedia to show its appearance.

The Basilica of San Petronio dominates one side of the Piazza Maggiore.  It is dedicated to the patron saint of the city, Petronius, who was the bishop of Bologna in the 5th century. It is the 10th largest church in the world.

Construction of the basilica began in 1390.  It was supposed to become the largest church of the Christian world, but that plan had to be abandoned because Pope Pius IV did not like the idea of a church bigger than St. Peter’s in Rome.

The Basilica of San Petronio is unfinished, which is obvious when you look at the façade: the bottom part features white and red marble, but the upper part is just comprised of bricks.

Some views of the beautiful and grand interior of the church. After I took these few photos I found out that photos were not allowed inside the basilica without first paying a fee, so I closed my camera. Our cousin told us that the basilica is guarded daily by the Italian Police because in 2002, five men connected to Al Qaeda, had planned to blow up the basilica and were arrested. In 2006, another plan by terrorists to destroy the Basilica was also thwarted by Italian police. The terrorists claimed that a 15th-century fresco inside one of the 22 chapels inside the basilica was insulting to Islam.

That evening we enjoyed a delicious dinner with our cousin and his family at a local restaurant that served traditional Bolognese cuisine. The city of Bologna looked gorgeous under the moonlight! We returned to Genoa the next morning and began our journey back to the United States soon after. Our time in Italy had come to an end, but we were happy to have seen and experienced so much on this visit and to have spent so much time with my husband's extended family.  We thank them and hold them all in our hearts and memories until we see them again on our next trip!

Meanwhile, the end of the school year here in Colorado has had us busy with many grandchildren events! Graduations, recitals, sports, competitions, field days --- stayed tuned for my next blog post!

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eileeninmd said...

Hello Pat, wonderful tour. I love the churches and the towers. The ancient frescos are beautiful. Lovely collection of photos. Have a happy day and new week!

Sallie (FullTime-Life) said...

Pat, I loved this as I have every post on this great trip. So much beauty and history in this City. I'm glad they didn't confiscate your camera (or worse) for taking those beautiful but illicit pictures inside the Basilica. I'm always in awe of the artists and craftspeople who created these masterpieces so long ago and wonder if anyone knows who they were (that amazing brick ceiling, for example). Thank you for sharing these wonderful memories with all of us.

Tamar SB said...

Oh wow - this is amazing! So glad your camera wasn't taken!

Michelle said...

All of it is just so breathtaking. The art and!

Klara said...

wonderful tour. so many things to see.

The Joy of Home with Martha Ellen said...

Oh Pat your visit to Bologna has brought back many memories of our trip there! The Piazza Maggiore with the Basilica of San Petronio is particularly remembered with fondness. We attended services there and I must say it was so inspirational. I remember hearing of the terrible threats there. How sad...How lovely your evening photos are of the lovely dinner you shared. Your trip was amazing! How wonderful to have your own private tour guides along the way as you visited family! ♥

Lydia C. Lee said...

Just lovely - we stayed there so long ago - 15 years or so~!

Lowcarb team member said...

Once again you've shared some wonderful photographs and details of your tour.
Everything looks amazing but those ancient fresco's are very special.

All the best Jan

Tom said...

...history, art and architecture some of the things I enjoy best! Thanks Pat for sharing, enjoy your week.

Powell River Books said...

Amazing art and architecture. I've never been to Italy and probably won't get there in person. Thanks for the tour. - Margy

Joyce F said...

The brick ceiling in the Basilica is amazing. I've enjoyed traveling to Italy with you via my armchair! Thank you for sharing!

Angie said...

Oh, Pat, I am sad that this means our Italian journey with you is coming to an end … but what an ending! Loved the frescos and the brick ceiling. I always wonder about the talented people who worked so high in the air to make such beautiful art and buildings for all of us to enjoy! Looking forward to your future posts about 'daily life'!

Anonymous said...

Did my comment get through? Hope so, because I enjoyed this immensely!

Anonymous said...

Oh, I don't think, my comment made it .... in short. The marble part of the basilica of San Petronia is stunning! To me, it makes sense that towers are used for defense purposes, since they have the greatest viewing angle! Maddening that already in 2002 this basilica was threatened. Feel privileged you shared all the artistic beauty of your trip in Italy with All Seasons - many, many thanks! Have a lovely week, Pat:)

Mother of 3 said...

Wow! That looks amazing. What a fun trip.

Kay L. Davies said...

I did indeed enlarge the photo of the brick ceiling, and it made me feel dizzy!
What a wonderful tour of the city, with your very own guide.
An Unfittie's Guide to Adventurous Travel

Ciao Chow Linda said...

Wow Pat, you were so lucky to have the personal, family member guiding you through the city. The frescoes in that palace were fabulous! I'm sorry I never got there. I'll have to put it on my list of places to see next time I'm in that city. Too bad that Giambologna sculpture was covered up during your visit. He's one of my favorite sculptors. Although he was born in Belgium, most of his life was spent in Italy, where he created lots of artwork for the Medici. The Bargello Museum in Florence has a lot of his work, and there are sculptures of his outdoors in the main piazza too.

Andrea said...

Thanks for the wonderful tour with the superbly beautiful pictures. I can't imagine the horses can climb those stairs, i pity them. I wonder why those dignitaries just don't walk on their own towards the top of the building.

Lady Fi said...

What superb shots of this lovely city!

Carol @Comfort Spring Station said...

Amazing architecture and history - wonderful post.

Karen (Back Road Journal) said...

You certainly did the town proud and covered so many sights.

NC Sue said...

Your post and photos demonstrate so clearly why Bologna is a much-loved place to visit! Thanks for sharing at

ellen b. said...

They should give you a key to the city! Have a good Memorial weekend!

Sharon said...

The art and the architecture of this city are breathtaking! Wonderful photos. I love the interior shots with the murals and art especially.

handmade by amalia said...

One of my favorite cities, I'm really enjoying this.

Stanley Hattman said...

Wow! I had known virtually nothing about Bologna until your, many thanks!! Those towers are like those found in San Gimignano. Your explanation of their origin is similar to what we had heard.

Spare Parts and Pics said...

Bologna looks amazing!! Love all the nicknames for the city. Thanks so much for taking us along and sharing your photos of this incredible spot!

italiafinlandia said...

Hello Pat,
nice report of Bologna.
Glad you enjoyed your visit.
Happy Sunday!

indah nuria Savitri said...

Bologna Italy is such an incredible city! I love seeing all those art works. The paintings and the frescos are beyond words.