From Bologna to San Luca always protected…
Going back to Piazza Malpighi, we go along Via Nosadella, that begins in the superior side of the square and it crosses the end of Via Saragozza; turning on the right after a short walk we find Porta Saragozza; from here we can see the longest portico in the world , with more than 666 arches and a length of 3,796 mt, that takes up to the hill of the Santuario della Madonna di San Luca.
The number of the arches has a symbolic meaning: 666 is the diabolical number and the portico winds like a snake , or the devil , finishing at the feet of the Sanctuary , recalling the image of the devil crushed under the feet of Our Lady.
The building of the portico started in 1674 and it was completed by the architect Carlo Francesco Dotti (1670-1759) who also built the Sanctuary and the Arco del Meloncello, where the portico ends in Via Saragozza and it starts going uphill up to the Sanctuary on the top of Colle della Guardia.
The building of the portico was financed by believers, art guilds and nobles, in order to protect pilgrims from the sun and bad weather, when they went to the “Madonna di San Luca” to absolve their vows and , every year , during the procession of the image of the” Madonna col Bambino” kept in the Sanctuary.
The Sanctuary has very old origins which start from a XII century “romitorio” (hermitage).
The old temple was built to keep the image of Our Lady coming from Costantinopoli and it was said it was painted by Luca, the Evangelist. The Sanctuary was built later in order to testify the devotion of the city for that image; the interior is solemn , with an ellipse shape, seven chapels and the elegant dome , rich of precious marbles, of valuable paintings, showing the sumptuousness with which the Bolognese wanted to decorate the house of their patron.
Another reason to go uphill is the long walk along the portico that gives you the chance to see one of the most stunning view of Bologna .
With this itinerary you have seen the most important landmarks in Bologna, but you can also find other interesting artistic and historical remains visiting the Chiesa del Baraccano, in Piazza del Baraccano,2; Corte Isolani the old passage between Strada Maggiore and Piazza Santo Stefano; the Chiesa di San Vitale e Agricola, in Via San Vitale,48; Casa Carducci with the Museum in Piazza Carducci ,5; Museo della Musica with the Library of the Music, in Strada Maggiore, 34; the Museo Civico Medievale, in Via Mazzini 4 and Casa Morandi, the residence of the painter Giorgio Morandi in Fondazza, 36.