Town Center, Bologna
The Town Center of Bologna includes the Piazza Maggiore and the Piazza del Nettuno and the impressive Morandi Museum.
Piazza Maggiore and Piazza del Nettuno
The life of Bologna centers around two adjoining squares (both pedestrian precincts), the Piazza Maggiore and the Piazza del Nettuno. In the Piazza del Nettuno is the Neptune Fountain by Giambologna (1563-67), one of the finest fountains of the 16th century.
Basilica di San Pietro
From the Piazza del Nettuno in Bologna the busy shopping street Via dell'Indipendenza leads to the station. In this street, on the right, is the cathedral of San Pietro (the Metropolitana), founded in 910, with a choir by Pellegrino Tibaldi (1575) and a nave, remodeled in Baroque style (17th century). It contains some fine treasures, including two marble lions from the Romanesque doorway, a "Mourning of Christ" and an "Annunciation of Our Lady" by I. Carraci. Beyond the choir is the Archbishop's Palace.Parallel to the Via dell'Indipendenza to the west is Via Galleria, with many old aristocratic mansions.
The west side of the Piazza del Nettuno and Piazza Maggiore is occupied by the Palazzo Comunale (Town Hall), an extensive Gothic building begun in 1290 and largely rebuilt in 1425- 30. Above the main entrance (1555) is a bronze statue (1580) of Pope Gregory XIII, a native of Bologna. On the second floor is the Municipal Art Gallery with the Collezioni Comunal D'Art.
In 1993 the Morandi Museum was opened on the upper floor of the Palazzo d'Accursio. On display are over 200 paintings, water-colors, drawings and etchings by the Bolognese painter G. Morandi (1890-1964), mainly donated by his family. His studio has also been reconstructed here together with his extensive library.
Palazzo di Re Enzo
Nearby the Town Hall is the Gothic Palazzo di Re Enzo (restored in 1905), in which Enzo, the poet son of Frederick II, was kept prisoner from 1249 to 1272.
On the north side of the Piazza Maggiore is the former Palazzo del Podestà (1201; rebuilt from 1484 onwards in Early Renaissance style), with a tower, Torre dell'Arengo dating from 1212.
Basilica of St Petronius
The south side of the Piazza Maggiore is dominated by San Petronio, the largest church in Bologna, which is dedicated to the town's patron saint. Begun in 1390 it was not completed according to the original plan, work being suspended about 1650 after the construction of the nave. The sculpture on the main doorway of the unfinished facade is by Jacopo della Quercia (1425-38). The interior ranks as the supreme achievement of Gothic architecture in Italy. Note the pieta by Amico Aspertini (1519) and the various wall-paintings.
To the south of San Petronio, in Via dell'Archiginnasio (No. 2) in Bologna, is the Archeological Museum (Museo Civico Archeologico), with a collection of prehistoric and Etruscan material from the surrounding area, and other antiquities; the museum has the finest Egyptian department after those of Turin and Venice (Rooms III-V). The Greek department (Room VI) contains a head of Athena Lemnia (copy of a work by Phidias, fifth century B.C.).
Address: Via dell'Archiginnasio 2, I-40124 Bologna, Italy
Opening hours: 9am-3pm; Sun: 10am-6:30pm; Fri: 10am-6:30pm; Sat: 10am-6:30pm; Closed: Mon
Always closed on: New Year's Day (Jan 1), May Day / Labor Day (May 1), Christmas - Christian (Dec 25)
Entrance fee: FREE
Disability Access: Full facilities for persons with disabilities.
Facilities: Gift shop
From the museum the Via dell'Archiginnasio, with the Portico del Pavaglione and its numerous shops, runs south to the Piazza Galvani, where stands a marble statue of the Bologna-born physiologist Luigi Galvani (1737-98), discoverer of the "Galvanic discharges" (though he himself interpreted them wrongly). On the left is the Archiginnasio (1562-63), until 1803 occupied by the university (with the old anatomy lecture-room, the Teatro Anatomico) and now housing the Municipal Library (600,000 volumes).
Piazza San Domenico
Via d'Azeglio runs by way of Via Marsili to the Piazza San Domenico, in which are two columns bearing statues of Saint Dominic and the Virgin, and the Gothic tombs of two learned lawyers Rolandino de' Passeggeri (d. 1300) and Egidio Foscherari.
St Dominics Church
On the south side of the Piazza San Domenico in Bologna is the church of San Domenico (begun c. 1221; façade unfinished), with an interior remodeled in Baroque style, containing the tomb of St Dominic (d. in Bologna 1221), a marble sarcophagus with carving by Nicola Pisano, Arnolfo di Cambio and Fra Guglielmo (1267); cover by Niccolò dall'Arca (d. 1494); the angel on the right, the figure of St Petronius on the cover and the youthful St Proculus (to rear) are early works by Michelangelo (1494). Fine intarsia (mosaic woodwork) choir-stalls (1541-51).To the left of the choir, between the first and second chapels is a wall monument to King Enzo ("Hencius Rex", d. 1272; restored 1731).In the sacristy is the Museo San Domenico.
Map of Bologna Attractions