Chapter 1 of Bologna: from the arrival to the Piazza Nettuno.

‘Bologna is celebrated for producing popes, painters and…sausages’ – Lord Byron

Welcome to Bologna! As you are going to discover, this is not just the city which gave its name to a famous pasta sauce made from tomatoes and minced meat. (Byron is not completely wrong, though…)

You will (hopefully) discover a lively city full of entertainement and history. 2016 is the 900th anniversary celebration of the city, and it was rich in events. From what I saw, I reckon Bologna is a young city. After all, you have the University of Bologna which is very famous in Italy. There are several streets where you can do shopping, and there is even a gigantic open-air market in the city centre where you can buy your food and stop to grab something to eat (the two main objectives of a market, really!). Food is very important in Bologna! Actually, when I visited, there was a big event on the main square promoting street-food. There were white tents sheltering food artisans selling Italian specialities. There was even a cooking workshop which was being filmed and broadcast. If you are a foodie, this city is for you! 

If you arrive by train, like I did, you will find yourself on the Piazza della Medallia d’oro. To go to the city centre, you need to walk on your left and cross the street. You need to wait a looooong time before it is your turn to go…You will see a lot of cars, and drivers are a bit stressed and angry. Once you have crossed the street, still follow on your left and your will see an ancient gate on your right.

Once at the gate, go to your left again and you will find La Scalatina Del Pincio (the staircase of the Pincio) The name ‘Pincio’ is a tribute to a hill that you can find in Rome. The steps lead you to il Parco della Montagnola (the park of the Mound) There was a demonstration when I went to Bologna, hence the banner!

Walk towards it and you will find yourself of the Via Dell’Indipendeza. This is the street which will lead you straight to the main attractions of the city.

This street is excellent for shopping. There is also a church or two along it. Most importantly, you will encounter La Cattedrale Metropolitana di San Pietro that you can find towards the end of the street. The original cathedral dates back from the 10th century. The actual building was refurbished and redecorated several times between the 16th century and the 18th century. ‘Metropolitana’ is a title given to a church when its bishop is elevated to the rank of archbishop, making of Bologna an archiepiscopal city. It was confered by the Pope Gregory XIII in 1582. 

 After visiting the Cathedral (see how I took pictures inside? I am no thug, though. It is allowed.), you need to continue straight until the end of the street to get to la Piazza del Nettuno (Neptune’s Square) named after the Fountain of Neptune (quite small for the God of the Sea) that you can also find there. Sadly, the foutain was being refurbished when I visited. I have no pictures of it.

This square encompasses a few of the greatest monuments in Bologna. You will find La Biblioteca Salaborsa which is part of the Palazzo d’Accursio. It is the main library of the city.

In front of the façade, I saw a very beautiful tribute to all the Italian Resistants who fought the fascist regime during WWII. It is a board with all the pictures and the names of these Resistants. In France, we generally just put the names of the people. Adding the pictures makes it even more powerful.

Opposite the library, you will find the Palazzo Re Enzo.The castle takes it name from a King of Sardinia, Enzo (and not Bernard or Steven as you could have imagined). He died in Bologna and was buried there. I hope the building was not a way to compensate something else…If so, poor Enzo!

The palace was built in the 13th century and is part of  an architectural complex of several palaces which you can find on the Piazza Nettuno and the adjoining square, the Piazza Maggiore, the ‘Major Square’ in Bologna (they did not think too hard to name this one) This aptly named place is magnificient, by the way! I will unravel its beauty in a later article.

This was the start of your visit. Sit a while on the steps of the Palace and behold. 

You have all the time in the world.

Best wishes,

I M Gullivering, 

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