The seat of the oldest university in the western world, Bologna, in Emilia-Romagna, is a city with intense cultural life and a very interesting historical heritage. An important urban center first under the Etruscans, then under the Gauls and finally under the Romans, Bologna was also in the Middle Ages a prominent urban center in Europe. European Capital of Culture in 2000, in 2006 was declared by UNESCO as the “creative city of music”.
Among the most important symbols of Bologna its characteristic arcades, that is, the covered walkways that unite roads, towers and palaces, and that only in the center reach the total length of about 38 kilometers. Constructed over a long period of time from the 11th to the 20th centuries, Bologna’s porticoes are considered to be an ‘exceptional universal value’ heritage for which the city has been nominated for inclusion in the UNESCO World Heritage List.
Among the many porches worthy of note we remember, among the oldest ones, that of the Isolani house in Major Road, which is one of the eight wooden stays left nowadays. Along the same way is the largest portico of the city, that is, the quadriportal of the Basilica of Santa Maria dei Servi. The tallest is the loggia of the Archbishop’s Palace in Via Altabella, which reaches almost ten meters. The most famous porch and the longest, however, begins in Zaragoza Street and leads to the Sanctuary of Our Lady of St. Luke.
Bologna’s features are also its towers, which offer tourists the opportunity to admire from above a marvelous panorama. Among the most important, Tower of Garisenda and Tower of the Asinelli are at the entrance point of the city of the ancient Via Emilia and belonged to a complex of hundred medieval towers, of which there are currently only about twenty specimens.
Among the other towers we also remember the beautiful Tower of Accursi or the Clock, which dominates Piazza Maggiore with its enormous mechanical clock, and the Azzoguidi Tower, on Via Altabella, which is part of the so-called ‘medieval skyscrapers’ triad of Bologna together with Torre Takeover of Torre Galluzzi. Very particular, finally, Tower of the Arengo, located in a central place in the city, above the Palace of the Podestà.
Buildings and historic buildings
Among the palaces and historic buildings there is only the embarrassment of choice. Piazza Maggiore houses three buildings: the first is Palazzo del Podestà, built around 1200, which was the first seat of the city government. A curiosity: for a particular acoustic effect, visitors can speak out loud from the opposite corners of the pillars supporting the tower.
The second, Palazzo Re Enzo, was joined to the previous one in 1244-46 and hosted for about twenty-three years the so-called King Prisoner, King Enzo of Sardinia, son of Federico II. Finally, Palazzo Comunale or Accursio was the residence of the elders, the highest magistrate of the Government of the Commune, and today is the seat of the Town Hall of Bologna.
Lastly, the National Picture Gallery, which collects works of artists of the likes of Giotto, Raffaello, Carracci, and Archiginnasio di Bologna, home of the ancient university.
Bologna is first and foremost a university town: in its streets, alleyways, its porches is breathed a youthful air of continuous cultural ferment. Salaborsa, a beautiful civic multimedia library, and countless cafes and restaurants under the arcades are among the Bolognese’s favorite meeting points.
It is in these places of encounter that it touches with the spirit of cordiality and hospitality of Bologna and above all it is discovered the great culinary tradition of this beautiful city.