Emilia-Romagna

Bologna

The Emilia-Romagna Region was formed in 1947, with the joining of the Emilia and Romagna Regions.

Most of the major cities, with the exception of Ferrara and Ravenna, are along the ancient Roman via Emilia. It travels from what is now Piacenza to Rimini.

Travel + Leisure, in one of its 2007 issues, describes this region as being "blissfully crowd-free" as it is off the main route of art pilgrims. Again in 2009 articles lable this as the unfound treasure of Italy. We agree. There is much to see in this Region.

 

 

Emilia-Romagna

Bologna

BolognaBologna is often missed in the rush to travel between the big three: Roman, Florence and Venice.

But if you stop in Bologna you will find a town with a beautiful arcaded centre.

This is a busy city with a good feel. It is home to one of Europe's oldest universities.

We had previously visited Bologna many years ago and most recently, we stayed here in 2007 when I was able to arrange a visit to the Omas pen factory. The Omas what? Your must know that Omas is one of the leading manufactures of fountain pens. We stayed at the Hotel Porta San Mamolo and we are very pleased to have this as one of our Great Places to Stay destinations.

We found the arcaded streets, medieval towers, historic churches, palaces, galleries and museums all very much worth a visit. The town was a pleasure to walk and it is know for the arcaded sidewalks, the sidewalks that are under the structures of the old palazzos and other buildings.

Bologna is also know for its food and we are some very good food on our visits to this city.

The Piazza Maggiore is the centre of the town and there you find the Duomo. The façade of the S. Petronio Church is rather plain. It was built between 1390 and 1659 and is still not finished. Religious politics. The Duomo is open daily from 7:45 to 12:30 and then again from 3:00 to 6:00.

The Duomo was originally meant to be bigger than St Peter's in Rome. A grand plan, however, the money ran out and the building remained unfinished. The foundation stone was laid in 1390. The side walls were built with the recycled materials from nearby demolished buildings. The base of the façade, is a striking contrast to the unfinished upper part and has elegant moldings red Veronese marble and Istrian stone.

On the floor you can check out the meridian line that was traced back in 1655 This is actually a sun calendar. An opening in the ceiling allows a beam of sunlight onto the bronze strip. The strip is engraved with the days of the year and signs of the zodiac.

On our 2007 visit we found the security into the church to be very tight. That year they would not let me into the Duomo as they said my camera bag was too big.

Piazza Maggorie is the heart of the city with the Fontana del Nettuno which is one of the identified symbols of Bologna. The fountain is dedicated to the sea god and dates from 1564/66. To the right you'll see Palazzo del Commune, or the town hall, which was built in the 13th and 14th centuries. The bell tower has a magnificent carillon clock.

The Basilica of San Domenico holds Pisano's tomb for Saint Dominic (13th Century) and it is impressive.

Pisano carved a series of marble panels on all four sides of the saint's sarcophagus. The lid of the tomb, in marble is impressive, and in front is an angel by Michelangelo, who spend time in Bologna and also studied under Pisano.

The Basilica of Sant Domenico is open from 7:30 in the morning until 1:00 pm, and then opens again at 3:30 pm until 7:00 pm - so plan your day accordingly.

The Santa Maria della Vita holds the amazing terra-cotta Lamentation, Il Compianto. There are seven life-size figures that make up their piece. The Santa Maria della Vita is open from 7:30 in the morning until 7:00 pm at night Monday to Saturday and on Sundays from 4:30 to 7:00 pm.

Parma

A city with a long history included being founded by the Etruscans, built twice by the Romans, destroyed by subsequent rulers. During the Middle Ages Parma gained stature because of its location. It was on the via Francigena which was the main road from Rome to Northern Europe. Any, with pilgrims taking a route that included a stop in Parma there were castles and inns all built to be of service.

About 1545 Pope Paul III took Parma and Pieacenza from the Papal States and gave these cities to his illegitimate son, Pier Luigi Farnese. A good gift and the Farnese family ruled Parma until 1731. But there were troubles with the death of the Farnese line and Parma and Piacenza was given to the House of Bourbon. Later the cities broken from French rule.

Unfortunately Parma was a centre for heavy bombing in World War II. The original Palazzo dell Pilotta, the Teatro Farnese and other great buildings were destroyed.

We found Parma an interesting stop. We spent half a day walking around the town. The Duomo shows 12th Century Romanesque architecture. The middle portal has bas-reliefs depicting the months of the year. The baptistery is a stunning Romanewque-Gothic building.

We have visited Parma twice, and both times it was an enjoyable stay.

The Battistero, an octagonal building was built between 1196 and 1270. From the outside there are three portals adorned by the statues and reliefs by Benedetto Antelami. These are the top of the list of what are great examples of Romanesque sculpture. Go inside.The ribbed dome containing sculptures to depict the months, the seasons and the signs of the zodiac. Most of the frescoes date from the 13th century.

Other important buildings include the Teatro Regio (Royal Theater) which opened in 1829 and is is one of the most important opera houses in Italy.

The Palazzo della Pilotta has three courtyards and was built between 1583 and 1622 and another building left unfinished. It was meant to serve as lodgings for the court servants. The Galleria Nazionale is one of Italy's most important art museums.