The port of plain, underground canals, monuments and manufacture of the arts.
The relationship between Bologna and the water is very old and in the period in which its power developed its attraction pole and distinction wasn’t just culture or the university: since 12th century the Commune built various artificial canals that started from the waters of Aposa stream (on its banks etruscan Felsina was built) and crossed the two canals connected with the rivers Reno and Savena which were created to take waterways inside Bologna.
This great quantity of water had to create the necessary energy to feed handcraft: mills, grinding millstones, tanneries, spinning wheels, power hammers, filling mills and all the activities that needed water for energy which made the difference between the slow constant work and a production of great commercial importance.
The canals served as way for transport of goods and, of course, of people and when travelling by land was slow, the possibility to travel by boat was a good alternative, and it was often more comfortable and easier also for long journeys.
In 1548 Bologna started the building of the final port inside the walls of the town to replace the ones outside the walls. It was designed by Jacopo Barozzi (il Vignola) and it was operative until 1930s when the navigable canals were covered.
All the area between via Irnerio, via Dei Mille, via Don Minzoni from one side and via Riva di Reno via Righi and via delle Moline to the other, still keeps in some place names the memory of Bologna of the waters; starting from via del Porto in some places it is possible to admire some views of the canals that flow among the buildings or the meadows as in the case of canale Cavaticcio whose park in which it flows is named after it, in the heart of the Manifattura delle Arti, an area that is named after the ancient shops that once were situated there and worked in that area thanks to the mills of the canals and today it groups together some bolognese cultural centres like the Cineteca and the MAMbo, the Modern Art Museum in Bologna, in via Don Minzoni, 14 with the Museo Morandi permanent exhibition together with the usual periodical exhibitions and the nearby Salara, the ancient salt warehouse of the port, that today is an exhibition hall and the Cassero multipurpose centre.
In the area between the MAMbo and the Salara has been recently created Parco del Cavaticcio, named after the canal, and can be admired along a green strip giving a very relaxing and enchanting urban view.
The panoramic viewpoint over via Don Minzoni offers the same view of the park and of the canal, as when there was the port from the customs office disappeared today. The pole of the Manifattura contains also the DAMS laboratories of the University of Bologna, with the experimental theatre, film studios, auditorium for music, offices and services.
There is also the new Cineteca of Bologna, area international centre of documentation with more than 40.000 volumes, 18.000 videos and hundreds of thousands of pictures and film posters.
The Cineteca and the DAMS area are near via Riva Reno, where you can see the chiesa di Santa Maria della Vocazione built after the plague (in 1527) to thank for the escaped danger: the church was surrounded by the Reno canal water, which is covered today.
Along the same road there is the Angolo della pioggia at the crossroad with via Galliera. It is a very particular bolognese corner where it seems to be in one of the small surrounding towns rather than in the heart of the town as there is an enchanting sensation of meditation. All the area is a tribute to the Madonna della Pioggia who saved Bologna from a serious drought and to whom is dedicated the chiesa di Santa Maria della Pioggia, built on the 13th century complex and later named after the Madonna after the procession that in 1561 brought the rain that stopped the long period of drought. Inside the church there is the painting of the Madonna that was brought into the procession: a work of art by Michele di Matteo, a bolognese painter of the half of the 15th century.
From the nearby via Righi it is possible to see a sight of the bolognese waters that haven’t been covered, starting from the view near the great vault in via Malcontenti to go along the panoramic viewpoint in via Piella and then in via Oberdan, apart from the near via Capo di Lucca near the corner with via Delle Moline.
In via Oberdan, near the canal following the waters you get to the chiesa di San Martino (n.25) built in the first part of the 14th century and to be visited for the works of art by Paolo Uccello, Amico Aspertini and Ludovico Carracci among the various artists and the 14th century beautiful organ very precious for its decorations and sound.
Opposite the church there is via Marsala, where at n.12, there is Palazzo Grassi, one of the few buildings that is the proof of Bologna urban planning during middle age. The portico is one of the few with typical crutch shaped wooden beam columns with the entrance door surmounted by pointed double archivolt arches. It’s a typical example of architecture and noble building of the 13th century in Bologna.
PLACES TO BE VISITED
• The canals between via Piella, via Oberdan and via Capo Di Lucca
• Canal at Parco Cavaticcio
• Chiesa di Santa Maria della Pioggia
• The wooden portico of Palazzo Grassi
NOT TO BE MISSED
• MAMbo Modern Art Museum
• Works of art and organ of chiesa di San Martino
© Copyright 2013 all rights reserved – Bologna of the waters – It may not be reproduced in whole or in part.