Bologna Inside - Second Edition

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Roaming the streets to visit Bologna’s public art and architecture is a great way to get to know the city. It is also good preparation for those out-of-town visitors who inevitably show up wanting to see a Michelangelo. You’ll find the expected chapels and cloisters, but also a number of alternative itineraries, such as “Bologna of Museums,” “Bologna of Poets,” and “Bologna, City of Music,” not to mention guided tours of the subterranean city, with its Roman ruins and little-known covered canals. The canals are visible from the street in only a few places, most notably in Via Piella, from a little window in the wall. There are also tours of the private courtyards, gardens and villas, again invisible from the street. Below are a few city highlights not to be missed.

Basilica di San Domenico

Piazza San Domenico, 13
L’arca di San Domenico is adorned with statues by Nicola Pisano, Nicolò dell’Arca and Michelangelo. You may recognize Michelangelo’s hand in the angel on the right, the one with the short Roman hair and powerful physique. There are also frescoes by Guido Reni, Filippino Lippi, Ludovico Carracci and other noted painters.

Basilica San Martino Maggiore

Via Oberdan, 25
The first chapel on the left contains a recently discovered fresco, Adorazione del Bambino, attributed to Paolo Uccello, created during a stop in Bologna on his way to Venice. There is no written record of the work and it was likely covered immediately after its creation.

Chiesa Santa Maria della Vita

Via Clavature, 10
Here you will find Nicolò dell’Arca’s breathtaking terracotta sculpture Il Compianto sul Cristo (1463). Be sure to bring several coins with you as the piece is even more powerful when lit.

Collegio di Spagna

Via Collegio di Spagna, 4
Tel. 051.330408
Founded in 1365, this is one of Bologna’s most beautiful buildings. Open January-June for public visits by appointment. Call or send a fax to 051.5840508 to request a visit.

Complesso di Santo Stefano

Via Santo Stefano, 24
This Benedictine foundation is also called Le Sette Chiese (The Seven Churches). Dating from the IV century, the complex includes four Romanesque churches of the original seven and a beautiful cloister.

Palazzo dell’Archiginnasio

Piazza Galvani, 1
Built in 1563 and used by the university until 1803, this building contains the anatomical theater once used in Bologna’s School of Medicine. Take note of the coats of arms that surround the courtyard and hallways, which describe the origin of the pupils who once studied here.

Santuario della Madonna di San Luca

From Porta Saragozza, 666 arches form the elegant arcade of San Luca, which snakes up the hillside to the sanctuary overlooking Bologna.