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Tourist Office in Bologna

Address: Palazzo del Podestà – Piazza Maggiore, 1/e – 40124 Bologna
Telephone: (+39) 051.239660 – 051.6472113 – Fax: (+39) 051 6472253
Email: touristoffice@comune.bologna.it
Sito Internet: http://www.bolognawelcome.it
Open: every day from 9 am to 7 pm; in December, 31 open from 9 am to 5 pm
Close: 1 Genuary, Easter, 25 and 26 December

Bologna is the capital of Emilia Romagna region and is a city with a thousand faces: welcoming, charming, rich in art and culture, lively and man-sized. While retaining the appearance of an ancient past, it is also one of the most modern and advanced Italian cities. It has become a symbol of cultural integration and quality of services. For all these reasons, Bologna is one of the favourite destinations for tourists, students and all those who seek new career opportunities.

Piazza Maggiore

Bologna, called the “Rossa (Red)” for the colour of the roofs of the old town, the “Dotta (Learned)” because it’s hosts one of the oldest and most prestigious University in the world (Alma Mater Studiorum) and “Grassa (Fat)” for the succulence of its gastronomy, develops around the ancient Piazza Maggiore, which is overlooked by the most important buildings.

Here, next to the beautiful Neptune Fountain by Giambologna da Douay of the sixteenth century, you can admire the Basilica of San Petronio, Palazzo d’Accursio or Palazzo del Comune, Palazzo del Podestà, Palazzo Re Enzo and Palazzo de’ Banchi.

Basilica di San Petronio

The Basilica of San Petronio, majestic and impressive, was built between the fourteenth and the seventeenth century on a project of the architect Antonio di Vincenzo. Today it houses paintings by excellent artists such as Giovanni da Modena, Jacopo di Paolo, Lorenzo Costa and Amico Aspertini.

The entrance portal is adorned with beautiful bas-relief made by Jacopo della Quercia and, still at the entrance, you can admire a sundial of 1655, a work by Cassini.

Leaving San Petronio Church, on the east side, along the elegant Via dell’Archiginnasio animated by shops and boutiques, you arrive to Piazza Galvani overlooked by Palazzo dell’Archiginnasio (home to the University of Bologna from 500 to 800) and the unfinished Apse of San Petronio. Here, a pleasant break for an aperitif is recommanded at the “Caffè Zanarini,” a storical bar of Bologna. In the evening, it offers a wide buffet choice to be enjoyed with a good glass of wine while and, during the summer, you can spend some time outdoor sitting at a table.

A few steps away, turning left on Via Farini, you have to walk to the Galleria Cavour to admire the luxurious shops of the world’s leading designers.

Palazzo d’Accursio or Palazzo del Comune

Back to Piazza Maggiore the remarkable Palazzo del Comune, known also as Palazzo d’Accursio from the name of the rich Bolognese family who lived there in the past. Actually, this is a complex of buildings that, over the centuries, were added to an original nucleus purchased by the City at the end of 200.

Initially, a part of the building was bound to conserve the grain stocks of the city; other parts housed some municipal offices. In 1336 it became ” The House of Elder statesmen”, the highest judicial organ of the City Government; since then, it is the seat of city government.

During the first half of the 400 the palace was rebuilt with the help of the architect Fioravante Fioravanti; subsequently a clock and a carousel with wooden automata (Madonna with Child and Procession of the Magi) were installed in the Tower d’Accursio. They were removed in 1796 and stored on the second floor, in the Collezioni Comunali d’Arte (Municipal Art Collection).

On the facade of Palazzo d’Accursio the “Madonna with Child“, a beautiful sculpture in gold and polychrome terracotta by Niccolò dell’Arca of 1478, observes the whole square. Also to be admired is the beautiful portal of Galeazzo Alessi, built in the mid 500, on which stands the bronze statue of Pope Gregory XIII, of the bolognese family Boncompagni, by the sculptor Alessandro Menganti.

The first floor of the palace houses a gallery, now used as City Council Room, which features a frescoed ceiling, painted between 1675 and 1677, by Angelo Michele Colonna and Gioacchino Pizzoli with squares and architectural allegories that allude to wealth, fame, arts and culture of the city.

Other important cultural institutions housed today in the Palazzo d’Accursio are the Collezione comunale d’arte antica (Municipal Collection of ancient art) with paintings and furnishings from the Middle Ages to 800, and the Morandi Museum, which houses the works of the great artist donated to the city of Bologna.

Palazzo del Podestà e Palazzo Re Enzo

The north side of Piazza Maggiore is occupied by the complex formed by the Palazzo del Podestà and Palazzo Re Enzo and, between them, the Palazzo del Capitano del Popolo, another symbol of the communal history.

The Palazzo del Podestà, started in 1200, was the seat of executive power in the city. Inside this palace the political meetings were held, whose decisions were then communicated to the public square in front of it. Since 1484 Giovanni II Bentivoglio, Mayor of Bologna, ordered the work of embellishment with the introduction of Renaissance forms, but the work was not completed as a popular uprising expelled the Mayor from the city.

Palazzo Re Enzo, built in 1245, so called because until 1272 it was the prison of the son of Frederick II of Sweden, who was imprisoned there until his death. In its halls are kept the Archivio cittadino (City archives) and the “Carroccio” a big chariot that during the war served to carry the insignia of the city.

A grand staircase, where once were hanged people sentenced to death, leads to the entrance of the Palazzo del Capitano del Popolo, separated from the Palazzo del Podestà from the Voltone del Podestà, a wide arcade under which two streets intersect at right angles. Inside the Voltone del Podestà the market took place and the desks of notaries were arranged; under its arches were made public condemnations for the blasphemers and criminals were hanged to death. Later the Voltone also became a religious site housing the terracotta statues of the four patrons of Bologna: San Petronio, San Francesco, San Domenico and San Procolo, sculpted by Alfonso Lombardi.

Above the archway (the Voltone) stands the Arengo Tower, built in 1259 as a unifying element for the three buildings. Its bell attracted the people in case of extraordinary events.

We report a nice curiosity for the tourists. Under the Voltone del Podestà, a unique acoustic effect allows visitors to talk to each other in a low voice from the four opposite corners of the vault.

Sala Borsa

In Piazza Nettuno, we suggest a visit to the Sala Borsa, the multimedia library of Bologna, inaugurated in 2001. Inside has been made in several points a glass floor that allows you to admire the ancient excavations and the remains of past civilizations. It was also designed an underground passage through which you can rediscover the “Roman Bononia“, the foundation walls of the ancient basilica, the traces of the road pavement (basolato) of the the Augustan Age and the ruins of the medieval reconstruction.

The Towers of Bologna

In Bologna, between the twelfth and thirteenth century, many towers were built by the richest families as a symbol of power and as a mean of defense and offense among themselves, one against the other during the investiture struggle period pro-imperial and pro-papal. Other lower towers (called “tower houses”) had a function of houses with multiple openings, thinner walls and a rectangular plan.

In addition to these were also built the “Serragli” or “Torresotti“, a series of 18 doors surmounted by a tower, raised at the second set of walls of the twelfth century. Today there are only four of them left, in the historic center.

During the thirteenth century, many towers were torn down or lowered for safety reasons, while others collapsed. Some others were later used as prisons, civic towers, houses or shops. About twenty towers still “survive” today, including Tower Azzoguidi called Altabella (61 meters high), the Tower Prendiparte called Coronata -Crowned (59.50 meters), the Tower Scappi (39 meters), the Tower Uguzzoni (32 meters), the Tower Guidozagni and the two most important, the Tower of Asinelli and the Tower Garisenda.

From Piazza Maggiore, along Via Rizzoli, you are confronted by the spectacle of two medieval towers, symbol of Bologna: The Garisenda Tower (48.16 meters high) and the Asinelli Tower (97.20 meters high), built with military and aristocratic function.

Torre degli Asinelli and Torre Garisenda

The Asinelli Tower was built between 1109 and 1119 by the noble bolognese family of the same name and is today open to the public. Climbing its 500 ancient steps, you can reach the top of its 97.20 meters from where you can enjoy a splendid view of Bologna and its hills. During the ascent you will be fascinated by its architecture remained unchanged and full of trap doors and suggestive wood ladders like in an old castle.

The Garisenda Tower, from the same era, was built by the Garisendi family with a height of about 48 meters. In 1300, for its dangerous inclination, it was necessary to carry out a partial demolition.

Piazza della Mercanzia

At the right side of the two towers, is the splendid Piazza della Mercanzia partially occupied by the Palace with the same name, a gothic building made of brick, designed by Antonio Di Vincenzo and built between 1384 and 1391, on the spot where stood the old customs. Since 1811 the palace houses the Merchants Chamber of Commerce of Bologna.

You can still see the lodge used for unloading the goods, whose construction began in 1384 under the direction of Antonio di Vincenzo, flanked by Lorenzo da Bagnomarino. A major restoration of the building dates back to the period between 1887 and 1889. In 1943, an unexploded bomb set off by the Germans brought down the left side, rebuilt in 1949.

In the Palazzo della Mercanzia, the pillars and the porch with canopy cusp are a work by Giovanni and Pietro di Giacomo (father and son), better known as “Delle Masagne”. To be admired the pointed arches, the entrance hall and the beautiful Council Hall.

Complex of Santo Stefano

A few steps from Piazza della Mercanzia is one of the most charming and pleasant spots of Bologna: the Complex of Santo Stefano, better known as “Sette Chiese” (Seven Churches). The architectural complex , of romanesque origin, was born from the union of the courtyards and arcades of seven churches and chapels.

Within 20 minutes walk from Piazza della Mercanzia you can reach the Giardini Margherita, one of the largest and lush parks in Bologna, named after the wife of the King of Italy Umberto I. Along the way is worth visiting the magnificent Basilica of San Domenico , of the XIII century, at the center of the square with the same name and the adjacent monastery.

Museum of Bologna

The Museo Civico Archeologico (Civic Archaeological Museum), in via dell’Archiginnasio, contains numerous examples of the Bolognese history from prehistoric to Roman times. Among the various sections we recommand the Etruscan, Greek and Roman collections, numismatics and the Egyptian section, one of the largest in Europe.

Via Manzoni is home to the Museo Civico Medievale (Medieval Museum), which houses medieval sculptures, glass, bronzes, weapons, ivory and illuminated manuscripts codices.

To learn more about Emilian painting from 200 to 800 you can visit the Pinacoteca nazionale di Bologna (National Gallery of Bologna), situated in via delle Belle Arti, with paintings by Giotto, Raphael, Titian, Tintoretto, Carracci and Guido Reni. For lovers of contemporary art, however, the Galleria d’Arte Moderna (Gallery of Modern Art) exhibits many works of this kind and often organizes exhibitions of contemporary artists.

The shopping streets of Bologna

Bologna is a modern and lively city, always ready to incorporate all the latest trends of the contemporary society, even in fashion. The whole city center offers streets full of shops of every kind, able to meet the needs of any customer, but among the most “trendy” in this field, we report Via Farini with its luxurious Gallery Cavour, Via Ugo Bassi, via Indipendenza or via San Felice.

For lovers of markets we recommend a walk to Piazza VIII Agosto, opposite the gardens of the Montagnola where, every Friday and Saturday, is held a large market with stalls of various kind from new clothes to vintage ones, from shoes to household goods.

 

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