Between San Petronio, the Nettuno and the Pavaglione…
A visit in the historical centre of Bologna can start from FONTANA DEL NETTUNO, called also the fountain of the giant one of Giambologna’s works (Jean de Boulogne 1529-1608) made in 1563. Next to the fountain you enter into Palazzo Re Enzo, so called because Enzo of Swabia, king of Sardinia and son of the Holy Roman Emperor Federico II, was held prisoner for over 23 years.
Renzo (1220-1272) was captured during the victorious Fossalta battle, near Modena in 1249 and never released notwithstanding his powerful father emperor’s menaces, offers of money and flattery.
The building dates back to the first half of 13th century and it was restored lots of times, the last one was made byAlfonso Rubbiani in 1905. In the same building looking out Piazza Maggiore there is the Palazzo del Podestà, built in 1200 and dominated by the torre dell’Arengo on the top of which there is the “Campanazzo”, a historical bell that rang on special occasions or for particular events regarding the town.
Behind the building there are two pedestrian streets that create the Voltone del Podestà. It is quite peculiar the acoustic effect under the vault, in fact it is possible to talk one another from the opposite corners without being heard by people standing in the centre of the vault.
From Palazzo Re Enzo we reach immediately Piazza Maggiore. Around the large medieval square there are some attractive palaces among which on the west side PALAZZO D’ACCURSIO, seat of the Town Hall, the Palazzo dei Notai, with one side on Piazza Maggiore and the other on the BASILICA DI SAN PETRONIO, the last example of gothic architecture and sixth Christian church in the world for its size. It was dedicated to the Archbishop, patron of the city, the church was built in 1390 by Antonio di Vincenzo (1350-1402). The unique façade remained incomplete and in the lower part there is a marble base on which there are three portals; the middle one is by Jacopo della Quercia to whom are attributed also the bas-reliefs of the architrave pillars and in the lunette “The Virgin with Infant Jesus” and “Saint Petronius” (1350-1402). The interior, all flanked by votive and celebrating chapels of the most known Bolognese families that contributed to the construction, hosts also the biggest sundial in the world in the form of a meridian line (67 meters of length) for the study of the sun revolutions, traced on the floor in the left aisle in 1655 by the astronomer Gian Domenico Cassini.
In 1530 in San Petronio Carlo V was crowned Holy Roman Emperor by the Pope Clemente VII. Looking at the façade of the Basilica, on the left we can see the Portico del Paviglione, once a market, today one of the most favorite Bolognese destination for walking. From the portico with access from 2, via Archiginnasio in Palazzo Galvani, there is the MUSEO CIVICO ARCHEOLOGICO which collects important remains of Villanovan, Etruscan, Gallic civilization.
On the ground floor there is a wide collection of gravestones, memorial stones, architectural fragments of the 1st century, while on the first floor there are the most important collections of coins and medals. Going on towards the end of the portico in Piazza Galvani we find the Palazzo dell’Archiginnasio, built in the middle of the 16th century by Antonio Morandi, called Terribilia, the palace was the seat of various university faculties, that, at the beginning of the 19th century, were moved to via Zamboni where they are still located today.
Inside there is a square open gallery garden decorated with coats of arms and memorials of people and events of university life.
Opposite the entrance there is the Cappella di Santa Maria dei Bulgari, upstairs there is the Town Library of the Archiginnasio, one of the most important in Bologna; it’s also important to remember the Anatomic Theatre planned in the 17th century where all the anatomy academies joined and dissected corpses in public.