Last week, on our five day trip to the Emilia Romagna region, we made a stop in the beautiful “Brick City” of Bologna. Within minutes of arriving, we were right on our tour with Baldassare who introduced us to the history and spirit of Bologna. With the guidance of Baldassare we made our way through the Castle and on to the Piazza Maggiore. This castle has been destroyed five times as the people of Bologna want to feel free.
This sentiment of freedom was evident everywhere we went. The San Petronio Basilica that stands in the city center demonstrates this. As Baldassare explained it was not a cathedral but rather the church of the people. Unlike a typical church, sermons were run by lawyers and doctors, individuals who represented the people of the city. In an attempt to restore his power in Bologna, the pope decided to build a statue of himself on top of the Basilica. The people of Bologna did not stand for this as this church was for the people and destroyed the statue.
It seemed only fitting that we were visiting Bologna on Labor Day as it has remained a city that characterizes itself by the freedom of its people. People were out and about protesting workers’ rights in amongst the vendors and concerts that were set up in the piazza.
We were able to see Bologna’s other sites including the Two Towers of Asinelli and Garisenda and the University of Bologna. The Garisenda tower is renowned for its lean that is even greater than the leaning tower of Pisa and continues to sink due to its sand foundation. We later went to visit the University of Bologna with the Anatomical Theater inside where Leonardo Da Vinci taught some of his first lessons. It was incredible to walk the halls of the first university in Europe and the site of where revolutionary innovations were generated.
Our day in Bologna was busy but nevertheless remarkable. Just as their history shows, Bologna continues to be a city all their own as they embrace their own unique character.