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Michelangelo Sculptures in Bologna

ITALY | Friday, 22 October 2021 | Views [177]

Tomb of Saint Domenic, Bologna

Tomb of Saint Domenic, Bologna

IT SEEMS LIKE OLD TIMES being in Bologna, not that we’ve been here before. The car was due back at 10:30, check in’s not until four and now we’re standing on the corner with no idea where we’re at, where we’re going or what to do—like a couple of rollin' stones. 


             Tony's Place is now our place for a few days

We drove in from Ravenna and Antonio met us at the condo. The current occupants haven’t left but he will store our luggage. We only hope we can find the right train back. The receptionist at NH Hotel across from the station gave me a city map and marked Piazza Maggiore where there may—or may not—be Tourist Information. Oh, yes—I remember this feeling, not especially fondly but quite well. I’m in “driving mode” wearing both of my contact lenses so Connie has to handle the map reading. It’s pretty much a straight shot, little more than 2K, and there is a TI of sorts. I splurged €3 on a guide to the attractions of Bologna, pretty worthless unless you are interested in obscure churches but it will have to do until we can do some on-line research.


                  Basilica of Saint Domenic with a Treasure inside

Why Bologna? On our 2011 trip I became obsessed with Michelangelo while reading The Agony and the Ecstasy. We’ve managed to track down all of his sculptures except those here on the Tomb of Saint Domenic. In 1494, a young Michelangelo completed three figures for the Ark of St. Dominic; Saint Petronius, Saint Proculus and an angel holding a candle. He was also commissioned to create a monumental bronze of Pope Julius II, which was later destroyed and recycled to make a canon! The world’s loss, I’m afraid.


              Miles of Porticos

Now with a mission and lunch in our bellies we set off for the Basilica of Saint Domenico, about a mile distant, to find what we had missed. Very little of the walk was “outside.” As Bologna grew in the 1100s, the trend was to create porticos so buildings could extend over the street. Now the city center alone contains 40 kilometers of covered porticos.


                  Original Disection Table with the "Skinned Ones" behind 


                                                           Hippocrates and Galen

Not far from Piazza Maggiore Connie noticed the Anatomical Theater of the Archiginnasio, one of the few secular sites mentioned in our guide. The Theater, completed in 1737, is completely carved from spruce and still has its original marble dissecting table. It was damaged in WWII but recreated like it was when candlelit for human dissections in the medical school. On the wall along with Hippocrates and Galen stand two spellati, anatomical models with their muscles exposed.

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   Hear my prayers                            The Green Surplice 

A service was taking place in one of the side chapels when we arrived at Saint Dom’s and I couldn’t resist discretely snapping a photo of the priest in his green surplice. You might think that the chapel with Saint Dominic’s remains would be well-marked, him being a saint and all and with Michelangelo,s statues inside, but we tip-toed by it twice before catching wise. 


            Saint Petronius with model of Bologna 


                            Angel Holding a Candle

San Petronius, patron saint of Bologna, carries a model of the city while the angel on the right holds a candle. A young Saint Proculus looks more than a little like David, which Michelangelo would carve ten years later. Now we've seen them all.


            "David" may have recapitulated Saint Proculus

Bologna has not one but two Leaning Towers, Asinelli and Garisenda. Le Due Torri are the symbol of Bologna and, yes, they do lean towards each other like hesitant lovers. No earth-shattering experiments were performed here—they were probably constructed for protection and prestige.


                Le Due Torri of Bologna

It took a bit of help from the Trenitalia staff to get us on the right train—luckily we had to go only one stop. The walk from Borgo Panigale station passes a Lidl grocery store where we stocked up so John can cook again. It’s only five-minutes to “Tony’s Place,” our AirBnB, and Tony was waiting to turn over the keys.


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