Very few visitors know it, but under Bologna there is a dense network of canals which supplied energy in the past to make silk and grind wheat. Most of these were covered in the 1900's. To see a glimpse of these canals go to Via Piella 18. A window under the portico reveals a surprising scene.
Underground locks, canals and streams, age-old remains covered over time, in a virtually unseen before Bologna can now be visited thanks to the "Amici delle Acque di Bologna" association. The association organizes guided tours to the various secret sights of the city:
Bagni di Mario (Mario's Baths) a large underground 16th century cistern with Renaissance decoration and fascinating tunnels with ogive vaults. An ingenious system for collecting water built based on Nero's Domus Aurea.
Sala Borsa (entrance from Piazza Nettuno) an Art Nouveau hall built at the end of the 19th century to house Bologna's stock market, is currently the site of a library with an extensive multimedia collection. A network of tunnels start under the crystal floor revealing Roman and Etruscan Bologna.
Associazione Amici delle Acque di Bologna
Telephone: +39.051.522401 (Mon to Fri 8:30am -1:00pm) - Fax: +39.051.557794
Bologna's ghetto, in the medieval part of the city, preserves its original structure. Dark passageways, narrow alleys and courtyards where the Church confined Bologna's Jews from 1556 to 1593, when they were exiled from the city for more than 2 centuries. The ghetto is located between Via dell'Inferno and the adjacent streets: an area once enclosed by two gates. The synagogue was located at 16 Via dell'Inferno.
The Jewish Museum (Museo Ebraico) is located on Via Valdonica: it traces the history of the Jews over 4000 years, with particular focus on the link between the Jewish community and Emilia Romagna. It also has a specialized library. Hours: Sunday-Thursday 9:00am-6:00pm; Friday 10:00am-4:00pm; Closed: Saturday and Jewish holidays.
Il Collegio di Spagna
A very beautiful medieval college founded in 1365 to house the Spanish students enrolled in the famous university. The complex is protected by high walls, and is built in a style halfway between a monastery and fortified building. The entrance portal leads to a pretty 16th century cloister with double loggia. The upper loggia is decorated with frescoes in the Gothic vaults. Even now the college house 16 lucky Spanish students enrolled at the University of Bologna at no charge. Visits by request only.
Leaving Collegio di Spagna, we recommend walking down Via Saragozza until the gate that encloses it in the walls. Its long red arcades form one of the most spectacular sights of the city.
Climb to San Luca Church
Located on a hill dominating Bologna, Santuario di San Luca is one of the symbols of the city. The most charming way to reach it is to walk along the 666 arches of the longest portico in the world! The portico, built in the 18th century, starts from Via Saragozza and leads to the sanctuary with a route lasting almost four kilometers, which starts on flat ground and ends at 220 meters on Colle della Guardia. The views over the city that can be seen from the portico and hill will fully repay the effort. Inside the Sanctuary you can see the famous picture of the Madonna, a Byzantine painting that legend attributes to the evangelist Luke.
Photos courtesy of: APT Servizi, Regione Emilia Romagna, Comune di Bologna.
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