The big map of Bologna that is kept in Palazzo Comunale is the best start to get familiar with the the story of the city and its identity: You can see the mark of the walls, the radial streets of the Middle Ages and the perpendicular streets of Bononia, the Roman city. The common denominator is the red colour of the bricks. Let’s stroll through the city to look for this identity. We leave behind Porta Maggiore and follow this road (the Decuman of Bononia). We are in one of the most elegant streets, flanked by aristocratic mansions with arches (portici), typical of Bologna. Casa Isolani (n. 19) has Medieval arches. As a matter of fact the radial streets that start from the Two Towers are home to the Renaissance and Baroque buildings, that keep inside art treasures of the best local painters. We get downtown and here are the Two Towers: the austere and bold fortifications tell Us about rival families and a turbulent past. Starting again from the Towers We are in via Zamboni, the heart of University since the beginning of the 19° Century. (The old University is kept in Palazzo dell’Archiginnasio, not far from the Main Square). The Opera Theatre and the music school (Conservatorio) are there, many faculties are located in the old buildings and the atmosphere is very lively, thanks to the students coming and going at all times.The adjacent streets include the characteristic old “ghetto”, the memory of the community that became part of our city since the Middle Ages, with many vicissitudes.
We come back to the Towers. After seeing Palazzo dei Mercanti we get “Mercato di mezzo”: the streets of the market area are crowded with tourists and the scents of “mortadella”, cheese and “crescentine” spread everywhere. This market was restyled in the last years. Some typical shops were closed but were replaced with many restaurants and shops that offer the best of our local cuisine. At last from the narrow, coloured streets We catch a glimpse of the Big Square. That is the true heart of Bologna. Surrounded by the old palaces, seat of the city government and the magnificent Basilica of San Petronio, Piazza Maggiore however has an intimate and familiar look, thanks to the buildings that close it, while the evocative restorations promoted by Rubbiani and the architects of his team (end of the 19° Century) make Us relive the time of the old Commune. The square had a social vocation in the Middle Ages, and it still keeps and expands it. Moreover, the city is renewing its soul, it is more and more multiethnic, always open to new ideas and offers different kinds of entertainments, that take place also in the new permanent museums, as oratories or churches, that were recently discovered and restored.
Bologna is not only downtown. Just outside the walls You can see beautiful houses called “ville”, huge parks and old churches that recall the strong link that unites the city and the surrounding territory. The most evocative example of it is the long Portico di San Luca, that starts from the centre of the city and snakes up to the Sanctuary of San Luca, climbed by pilgrims, trekkers and athlets.
The trade city is located in the modern Fair area planned by Kenzo Tange, that includes also the seat of Regione Emilia-Romagna. All the year long many fairs of different items are housed there, while many industries and factories take place along via Emilia. Last but not least: We can’t forget FICO, among the new resources and appeals. The big food park offers 20.000 sqm of vegetable gardens, orchards and factories that You can visit through guided tours.
Bologna: a city that holds a lot of surprises!