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Bologna Slow Tour, day 3: The city history museum and the porticoes

Do you think you know everything about Bologna?

Bologna: the red, the fat, the intellectual and the “turrita” (yes, we know it’s a strange adjective, but we’re going to explain it later). Obviously, we are continuing our adventure as tourists and today we have done a tour focused on porticos and towers, which are characteristics of Bologna. We’ve met a new travel companion, Andrea Moretti, an expert of art-history who guided us in this visit.

First, we got to Pepoli Palace situated in Via Castiglione 8, so in the center of Bologna and we met our tour guide. Outside the palace’s structure seems to be ancient but inside it is contemporary and presents interactive attractions. Once you’re there it’s easy to follow the route between different rooms, which provide information through panels and images.

Let’s get to the point… we are Bolognese citizens and we thought to be aware of the history of our city, but we found out we aren’t. So, do you think you know everything about Bologna? Don’t be so sure of yourselves and book a visit as we did!

The city of Bologna developed in the IX century and since then it is famous for its architecture: indeed, there were two circles of walls which today don’t exist. With the enrichment of the most important families, the first towers and palaces were born. In the middle-ages, rich people were having a tower built as today the billionaires get a Lamborghini personalized! Consequently, there were a lot of towers so you must have heard about the legend which compares Bologna to Manhattan… please, don’t be disappointed: this is not completely true, but it’s your choice to find out why. Unfortunately, there were conflicts between families and they were always in a competition on whose tower was taller, which caused some problems in the city. The tallest tower, the Asinelli tower was bought by the county in the end and today everyone can visit it. You do need to be a bit fit as you have to climb almost 500 steps!

After this quick museum visit, we started seeing with our eyes all the most important tower and porticos of Bologna, under the guide of Andrea. Understanding the real historical importance of places where we just normally walk by (without even asking ourselves the reason of their existence), it’s like visiting this city for the first time and with a lot of curiosity. We have never seen our city under this light: imagining how our ancestors lived is a mind blowing experience! During this absorbing walk we also unmasked different urban legends and answered different interesting questions about or city and tradition. For example here (and only here) in Bologna we say “dammi il tiro” to ask someone to open the door and we saw where this expression comes from: Andrea took us to Mercanzia palace where we saw an old portico made of wood, lifting our sight we saw a little hole in the ceiling. Andrea explained us that the hole was used as a peephole and to open the door they had to pull a rope in order to let people in (“tiro”=pull).

by Asia Iacoviello, Dario Corsini & Matilde Ferrari

City explorer is an alternative summer camp organized by Roxana Iacoban/English with Roxy Celta teacher based in Bologna focused on the exploration of the city in English (for young learners and teens)

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