Bologna, Italy


On Thursday, September 6th we toured Bologna, Italy for an educational tour that is a part of our education during study abroad. Urbino is about a two and a half hour bus ride from Bologna. We set off at 7:00AM through the winding hills before joining up with the main highway outside of Pesaro.

Our first stop was at the Piazzale San Michele in Bosco where there is a sweeping view of the downtown area atop the hill. The church at the top contains beautiful religious art and a statue of Saint Anthony (just for you, momma!) While wandering around looking for a bathroom a few of us got lost and ended up in an adjoining hospital which was weird. We found everyone in the end, though. Click on the thumbnails to make larger pictures.

Next we headed back down the hill into downtown Bologna to begin the walking tour lead by the architecture professor, Mr. Ohlenbusch. We went to the Basilica and also the the old anatomical theater where educational dissections were conducted for the medical students. The Basilica di San Petronio is located in the main city square, Piazza Maggiore, with its construction beginning in 1390! (This Basilica was constructed before the tomato was introduced in Europe). The Basilica features religious artwork and a small exhibit about the shroud of Turin. My favorite part, however, was an astronomical calendar laid into the floor that can tell the date of the year based on sunlight entering a tiny hole in the ceiling and shining down onto the calendar. I bet dad will love that. (Hi, dad!)

The anatomical theater was another one of my favorite pieces of the day. Destroyed in a bombing during WWII, it has been rebuilt to its former glory. Professor Ohlenbusch gave us the background of the room and noted that the dark pieces of wood on the statues is what was recovered from the bombing while the lighter colored wood was pieces that had been rebuilt. The room reminded me of a church, but it was a church of science with the professorial pulpit looming over the class and the marble table in the center where the cadaver and student dissecting it would be. Around the room there were wooden statues of famous scientists of medicine as well as other famous Bolognese academics. We were told that they would use the room in the winter months when it was cold so that they could preserve the cadaver and cut down the smell of rotting flesh (cool). To see the full size images, click on the image you’d like to see. There’s a really cool panoramic in there.

At this point we broke off for lunch and joined our professor, Dr. Giacomoni, for a look at civil engineering solutions throughout the city. We first went to the two towers of Bologna which are leaning towers (wow!) You can climb up them, but we decided that since we were short on time and we did not yet have tickets, we would just look from the bottom. You can’t, after all, look at a building when you are inside of it. Both of the towers are leaning due to poor soil and inadequate foundations. Bologna used to have loads of towers that were built by the state and also by private families for protection, but most of the have since been destroyed with a few leaning towers remaining.

Leaning tower in Bologna

After this, we walked to the beginning of the Hidden Canals of Bologna self-guided tour outlined in the pamphlet found online provided by the city of Bologna’s tourist services. Click here to view the pamphlet. This tour was for educational purposes and each week on our educational tours we have been instructed to write a technical report outlining what engineering solutions we observed while on tour. In the image viewer below, I’ve included pictures from the tour, but my favorite spot was the little window that overlooked the canals. The project of the canals to bring water to Bologna began in the twelfth century (holy cow!) and the water has been flowing ever since. Due to the city’s expansion most of the canals have been paved over and closed up, but they still run below the city streets. At the end of the day we went to the Salara which was the remnants of the old port in the city. Fun fact – Salt also the word salary comes from the latin word salarium because Roman soldiers used to be paid their yearly wage in salt. Thanks to my husband, Chris for that little tidbit. You’re welcome.

Once again, to view the full size image, click on the thumbnail.

Little window where you can view the canal


We ended up having to hustle back to the bus and slept the entire way home (did I mention that we walked over 7 miles?!) On the next post, I’ll do an overview of the Urbino Historical tour!

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