During the Bronze Age Indus-Europeans settled in the Bolognese area working the land and stock-raising. In the Iron Age the Villanova culture gave great impulse to metallurgy. From the VI Century B.C. during the Greek civilation the city of “Velsna” was founded (later called in Latin “Felsina”). The future city of Bologna developed important commercial routes with the Mediterranean basin. In the IV century B.C. Felsina fell under the Celts: Galli Boi, who introduced pig farming in this region. Today, pork is still the very favourite meat and is the base of all kinds of preserved meat. Then came the Romans (Felsina became Bononia) who ruled up to the III Century A.C., when the Lombards settled in the city and brought new cultural and urbanistic development. Under the new rulers in 1088 the first university was founded. Bologna beceme the first centre of studies in Europe, calling upon itself many scientists and man of letters. In the late Middle Ages, the population grew steadily and the city was made more efficient and easily to go through by the means of transportation of those times. In this period the famous porticoes (archades) were invented. A big economical expansion due to the presence of the University led in the XV century to the explosion of textile manufacturing, thanks to the most world efficient water-supplying system. Under the Papal State Bologna became centre of Catholic religion popularization, at this time many churches were built. In 1796 Bologna became capital city of the Cisalpina Republic founded by Napoleon. During the XIX century Bologna underwent a huge urban expansion and was the second city of the Reign. The XX century is sadly known for the harsh encounters nearby Bologna along the Linea Gotica (Gothic Line), and, on 21 April 1945, the Americans victoriously entered the city of Bologna.
Le due torri (Two Towers)
These two towers are one of the most famous symbols of the city of Bologna. Garisenda tower (48 m) is the leaning one due to the sinking of the ground underneath during the XIVth century. Today it still maintains its stability. Torre degli Asinelli (Asinelli Tower), the highest one (98 m), was built in the XII century, but in the XIV century it was shortened to its actual height. The tower still rests on a layer of selenite rock. You can get to the Two Towers from via Ugo Bassi and via Rizzoli, via Santo Stefano, via Zamboni, Strada Maggiore and via Castiglione. From Piazza Maggiore, walk towards Piazza Re Enzo (the square in front of piazza Maggiore) and turn right down Via Rizzoli. From the train station all you have to do is walk up all Via Indipendenza and then turn left in Via Rizzoli. Only torre Asinelli is open for visit from 9:00 to 18:00 during the Summer and from 9:00 to 17:00 during the Winter. Admission € 3,00.
La fontana del Nettuno (Neptune’s Fountain)
Also known as Giant’s fountain, the great bronze statue of the sea-god is considered one of the most beautiful statues of XVI Century. It is between Palazzo Comunale (Comunal Palace) and Palazzo Re Enzo (King Enzo Palace) and towards the right facing the church of San Petronio. It was designed by the architect T. Laureti in 1563, while as the mermaids from which the water spurts were designed by Gianbologna in 1566, the four basins at each angle of the statue were built in 1604. The fountain is a typical meeting point for all Bolognese. From the train station you walk up via Indipendenza until you’ll find it just in front of you. .
La basilica di San Luca (San Luca’s Church)
The first foundation stone of the church was laid in 1194. The legend tells that the sacred image of Madonna di San Luca (Virgin by Saint Luke) was brought down to Bologna in 1433 and miraculously stopped the heavy rain, from then onwards the sacred image is brought down once a year from Monte della Guardia (Mount Guardia). This is a very special religious event of the town of Bologna. The church how it appears today was built in 1750 and has been restored many times during the years. The dome overlooks Bologna and you can see the church and its 666 porticoes (archades) from all over town. These were built in 1676 and are 40 km long. From wherever you come in to Bologna, you can see the church in the distance, so you know that you’re not far from the head town of the Emilia-Romagna district. To get to San Luca from Piazza Maggiore catch the bus number 20 from Piazza Re Enzo e get off at Villa Spada in Via Saragozza. From here, take the little bus that takes directly to the church. Our advice is to get off bus number 20 at Melocello (the sixth bus stop from Porta Saragozza- Saragozza gate) and walk up by foot under the porticoes.
La basilica di San Petronio (Saint Petronius’ Church)
This is the fifth church in the world by extension and was built very slowly during the years. The Town Hall decided to build it and construction started on 26 Febuary 1390 with the façade facing towards the main square of Bologna: Piazza Maggiore, but only in 1479 the last chaples were constructed. Many architects and artists contended the finishing of the façade. The main Doorway has bas-relieves by Jacopo della Quercia. In 1655, Cassini designed the sun-dial that’s inside the church. The church of San Petronio still remains unfinished. Main entrance from Piazza Maggiore, other entrance from Piazza Galvani in front of Archiginnasio library.
La cattedrale di San Pietro (Saint Peter’s Cathedral)
Not many people know that San Pietro is the cathedral of the city of Bologna instead of the church of Saint Petronius. Saint Peter’s was built in 910 and has been restored many times during the centuries. It was the symbol of central power, being Bologna the second city of importance of the Papal States. The cathedral is in Via Indipendenza and is in walking distance from the train station.
Piazza di Santo Stefano (Saint Stephan’s Square)
Known as "Piazza delle Sette Chiese" (Seven Churches’ Square), no doubt this is really on of the most romantic and fascinating square of Bologna. Small by dimension it is a favourite people,’s meeting point. one cannot admire the breathtaking buildings. Originally built in the VIII century on a pagan temple dedicated to Isis. The remains of the patron Saint Petronio are buried inside the Seven Churches. From Piazza Maggiore (Maggiore Square) all you have to do is walk along Via Rizzoli until you get to the Two Towers, then turn right in Piazza della Mercanzia (Mercanzia Square) and take the, Via Santo Stefano, road to the left..
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