Right at the heart of Bologna city centre is Renaissance God Neptune Fountain. I will be revealing you its many secrets: prepare to be having fun discovering the tricks undertaken by its sculptor Giambologna in order to be making fool of the Popes, Lords of the town when the Fountain was built!
Elegant open air-drawing room of the city, surrounded by majestic architecture, the Main Square is the best spot all across town to be spying on Bologna people, here gathering and having a chat. This is where you will find imposing, medieval City Hall Palace, seat of the proud government of the city for over eight-hundred years, as well as gothic St. Petronius Basilica, one of the largest churches throughout Europe, originally intended to be larger and longer then St. Peter Basilica in Rome, no less. On the inside, a forest of tall cloister pillars, gothic frescos and stained glass windows overlooking the longest and largest calendar all across the world, designed by astronomer Cassini on the floor of the Basilica itself for the most complex science and physics experiments.
Fair to say Bologna wouldn’t be the same without its world-famous University: this is where university system was conceived over one thousand years ago, later to be exported all across the world. And we are awfully proud of that! We shall be reaching Renaissance Archiginnasio Palace, the very first campus building of history. Only one of the original 22 classrooms of the building is still perfectly preserved, the all-wooden built Anatomical Theatre, in order for medicine to be taught: this is where you will follow me, discovering ancient rituals and daily life of Bologna University students, and how they shaped the history of knowledge.
Following stop will be the narrow medieval alleys of the so-called Middle Market area, kingdom of ancient delicatessen shops featuring dangerously delicious Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, sausages and handmade pasta: all the foodstuffs the city is renown for. This is Bologna, the fat one, at its best. I will be introducing you to mysterious Battuti brotherhood, having inspired Dan Brown’s Da Vinci Code: we shall be visiting their church, Santa Maria della Vita Basilica, where touching Mourning over Dead Christ terracotta group by Niccolò dell’Arca is located.
St. Stephen Complex, locally affectionately nicknamed ‘Seven Churches’ or ‘Holy Jerusalem of Bologna’ is definitely the most beloved spot all across the town by locals. Located in a tiny little square miles away from the noise of the crowd and major tourist circuits, this ancient medieval monastery, offering an unprecedented history spanning over two thousand years, will surely be able to be fascinating you. From ancient Roman ruins to mysterious medieval secrets and rituals, here you have it all!
At the border of market area, we will be reaching the Two Towers: mentioned by Dante in his Inferno, one-thousand years old Asinelli and Garisenda towers are the definitive, truest symbol of the town.
They are only a couple of the many towers that topped the sky of Bologna in 12th and 13th century, and admired ever since. Prepare yourself to bend over, in order to be enjoying the best view of them!
The narrow, picturesque alleys of former Jewish Ghetto area of the city still preserve life and traditions of one of the most ancient Jewish communities of Europe, offering a unique glimpse of 16th century popular Bologna, the area untouched by later urban development. Just nearby, one beautiful hidden gem: the tiny, breathtaking St Cecilia Chapel, also known as ‘Bologna Sistine Chapel’, totally decorated by masters of Bologna and Ferrara Renaissance style.
There’s not a great many being aware of how, for one thousand years, Bologna looked like Amsterdam and Venice: crossed by many bridges and canals, the city hosted one of the most important harbours of Europe. And that’s quite peculiar, considering the city is 90 driving minute time away from the sea! As our last stop, we will reach the stunning ‘Little Venice’ area, the only area in town where still visible are the canals having been marking the story of Bologna. Prepare to be amazed!