My friend Steven (Yale ‘11) is in Milan doing a Fulbright, but even though he’s been in Italy for the past nine months, he’d never seen Bologna before. So he took the train down from Milan we met up on the steps of Santa Maria Maggiore in Bologna. We hadn’t seen each other in over a year, so naturally there were tears, fierce embraces, and cries of joy and ecstasy at being reunited! Lol, jk. But we were pretty happy to see each other!
So I have to say, Bologna, besides being very medieval looking, didn’t have all that much to offer me. What it did have was excellent food, and the most porticoes I’ve ever seen in my life.
So maybe it’s because the streets are so medieval and narrow, but every walkway in the entire city is portico-covered. It’s very nice, actually. As has been the case for my whole trip thus far, it was BLAZING hot in the sun, and the marble and shade and breezy openness of the porticoes made walking around the city all day actually enjoyable!
Here’s a slideshow of some of the spectacular porticoes:
But the reason I’m calling this post “One Hundred and One Porticoes,” is because in addition to the countless porticoes of various lengths throughout the city, Bologna is also home to the mother-ship of all porticoes: The Longest Continuous Portico in the World. This monstrosity has 671 arches, which doesn’t sound like that many, right? Wrong. The thing is 3 miles long and climbs a mountain to a basilica overlooking the city. Steven’s friend Eleanor (another Fulbrighter, living in Bologna) explained the reason for its existence: The basilica houses a particularly important religious icon which is brought out on a particular feast day and paraded down to the city every year. The portico was built along the procession route to protect the icon from sun and rain damage, because apparently it is just that important.
Some images of The World’s Longest Continuous Portico, and the Basilica at the top of the mountain:
By the time we were made it back down from the “summit,” our legs were jelly and we were hot, sweaty, and sore (or at least I was – Eleanor is in much better shape than I), and above all ready for some FOOD. Eleanor took us to a brilliant fish restaurant with no menu (they just bring you whatever they’re serving that day!). We tucked into a fully-deserved four course meal, a bottle of white wine, and some girly discussion about our attractive and charming Italian waiter, who kept winking at Eleanor 😉