Whether you are in Italy for business or leisure, you must make a point of visiting Bologna. It is a small town in the North Eastern part of Italy that has existed since medieval times. It is also home to one of the oldest universities in the world. There are 3 places that all visitors to Bologna must visit. As you plan your tour schedule, make sure to include San Petronio Basilica, Torre degli Asinelli and The Anatomy Room in the old University of Bologna. Let’s take a quick tour so that you understand why these 3 places are so special.
San Petronio Basilica
This is the 6th largest cathedral Europe so you will be looking at a great example of ancient Gothic architecture. Although it is named after Bologna’s patron saint, there is something else about it that is even more interesting. After its construction was already underway, someone suggested that it should be changed to the Latin Cross design. The idea was that it would eclipse what was then the largest cathedral, St. Peters Basilica in Rome. The Pope at the time was Pious IV, and he would not have it. Construction continued and eventually, the complete structure was 132 meters long and 66 meters wide. Unfortunately, the red marble plastering wasn’t completed, but the cathedral is still a marvel. Take a tour inside and see not just 2 of the oldest organs in Italy and the largest sundial in the world.
Torre degli Asinelli
This is a pair of towers that are the symbol of the city. There were 100 towers like these, but time has ravaged them and only a few are left. These two, the Torre degli Asinelli, are the two tallest ones in Bologna today. The taller one goes 97.2 meters into the sky and you can get a dizzying view of Bologna by climbing the 500 steps to the top. The shorter tower was once 60 meters high but in the 14th century, it had to be lowered because it became unstable. Today, it is 48 meters high and it leans at an angle. It is beautiful to look at nonetheless.
The Anatomy Room at the old University of Bologna
Built in the 1600’s, this room is called the anatomy theatre because of its amphitheater-like design. It is built almost entirely of a type of wood called spruce and it was used to give lectures to anatomy students. The marble table where dissections were performed is still available for view today, and there are statues along the walls depicting such famous physicians of the time, including Hippocrates. During the second world war, The Anatomy Room was almost destroyed by bombing. After the war, reconstruction work started in earnest using photos to get it back to its original condition as much as possible. Even the rubble was re-used so that as much of the original material as could be preserved.
If you take a tour provided by Emilia Delizia you will have a fair idea of what ancient Bologna was like. You might want to take a little time to get to know the people and the culture, and of course to enjoy world famous Italian cuisine.