Strolling under the porticoes of Bologna, few people suppose that they have a city of water under their feet.
By taking this itinerary, which follows the course of the Aposa torrent and the Reno and Moline canals, you will be able to discover the course of Bologna’s old canals.
Starting from Piazza Rossini: walk up Via Zamboni towards the Two Towers (right side) and pass the Voltone with a mask marking the entrance to the old Jewish Ghetto of Bologna, under which the Aposa flows. Take Via del Carro (right side), at No. 4 ancient wooden portico; turn right into Via dell’Inferno, reach Piazzetta Marco Biagi to exit the Ghetto onto Piazza San Martino (at the level of the paving stones, a large door hides a steep flight of steps leading to the underground bed of the Aposa, which can be followed as far as Piazza Minghetti). Continuing under the portico on the right, we enter the side entrance of the
Church of S. Martino, one of Bologna’s parish churches, known as the Aposa. Leaving the church, take Via Marsala to the left and, turning around the apse of the church, turn into Via Mentana to arrive in Via delle Moline, the canal area of the ancient city. At the crossroads with Via Capo di Lucca, the ancient Via dei Molinari, which still preserves the terraced houses once inhabited by millers, one hears the roar of the
Salto del Canale delle Moline (looking out from a bar in Via Alessandrini), whose energy was used to move the millstones. Back to Via delle Moline and the junction with Via Oberdan:
“Curva degli Annegati” (Drowned Bend): a suggestive view of the canal. Turning right into Via Bertiera, we turn right into Via Piella passing under Porta Govese or Torresotto dei Piella and we come to the famous: Finestrella on the Moline Canal and the bridge over the canal, both with high views. Continue along Via Piella turning left into Via Righi; Via Malcontenti overlooks (high) the canal. From Via Righi cross Via Indipendenza, walk along Via Falegnami (right side) to the “Piazza della Pioggia” (corner of Galliera – Riva di Reno), an area of ancient trades and workshops. Here we encounter the first of the so-called four churches on the Acqua:
S. Maria della Pioggia; proceeding along Via Riva di Reno (right side) turn right into Via Polese (silk mill area), which you walk along (the portico on the right ends with a 6 cm step, after which it is advisable to move under the portico on the left) to take Via del Porto on the left: an ancient port area of the city flowing into the Navile Canal, a waterway towards the Po and Venice. Cross Via Marconi and Piazza dei Martiri, keeping to the left, to reach in Via don Minzoni the:
MAMbo – Museum of Modern Art. Leaving, on the left, a view (high overlook) of the Salara (16th century) and the ancient port basin, today the Cavaticcio Garden. Turning back and taking Via F.lli Rosselli to the right, we cross Via del Porto (crossing over the Cavaticcio), Via Azzogardino (the heart of the Manifattura delle Arti cultural centre) and the Parco dell’ex Manifattura Tabacchi, reaching Via Riva di Reno. Keeping to the right, you will come to the second water church:
S. Maria della Visitazione delle Lame, once surrounded by the Reno Canal and the crowds of washerwomen. Continuing along the curving course of Via Riva di Reno, which follows that of the canal below, we come to the third church:
S. Maria della Carità. Cross Via S. Felice, walk along Via della Grada (right-hand side) to no. 12, Consorzio del Canale di Reno, an ancient leatherworks. Here is the fourth and last church on the water:
S. Maria and S. Valentino della Grada. Here the Reno Canal enters the city through the last circle of walls, passing through the “grada” that gives the church its name (visible from Viale Vicini). Return from Via S. Felice or Via del Pratello in Via Ugo Bassi and Via Rizzoli towards the Two Towers, then Via Zamboni and Piazza Rossini.
Maximum length of the route: 5345 metres
Departure and parking: Piazza Rossini