Piazza Maggiore, a meeting place for people of different ages and origins, is surrounded by the symbols of Bologna: the Neptune Fountain, the Basilica of San Petronio, the Palazzo del Podestà, Palazzo Re Enzo and Palazzo d'Accursio. This is the starting point of the Via degli Dei. The square dates back to the Middle Ages, when it replaced all buildings to contain citizens.
St. Luke's arcade and its 666 arches
That arcade construction began in 1674 and it goes up to Madonna of San Luca Sanctuary 3,800 metres long. The arches are thought to be a symbol of the Devil (666 is its number) as they are snake shaped and they finish at the Sanctuary, remembering traditional iconography of the devil defeated by the Madonna of San Luca.
Our Lady of St. Luke
In 1433 constant rains fell over the Bolognese territory threatening the entire harvest.
The Elders of Bologna decided to carry the image of the Madonna, perhaps painted by Luca the evangelist, down to the city to avoid the risk of starvation. The rains suddenly stopped.
Since then, this effigy is carried down to the Cathedral of San Pietro the days before the Ascension.
By an irony of fate, those days it rains.
The oldest masonry hydraulic work in Europe
still in use The Casalecchio sluice for eight hundred years "governs the flow of the waters of the river Reno to the city of Bologna" through a system of paraporti and channels. For centuries it has been the "engine" of the Bolognese industry and in particular of the famous Bolognese silk mills that allowed Bologna to become one of the European silk capitals. The finely worked silk fabrics produced in the city were in fact sought in all European courts.
The Peregrine Falcon nesting at the San Gherardo Natural Oasis
At the foot of the amphitheatre of gullies of San Gherardo, created nearby an old mine, there is a natural oasis where you can watch aquatic birds of the wet zones and the Peregrine Falcon nesting in the nearby sandstone cliffs of the "Balzo dei Rossi". It is the world's fastest animal as it plunges at 300 km/h.
The flowers of Alchechengi at the entrance of the Roman aqueduct
Inside the San Gherardo Oasis there is one of the entrances to the Roman aqueduct built in the 1st century BC. during the empire of Augustus. Even today perfectly working (although remained inactive for fifteen centuries) brings the water of the river Setta to the homes of the Bolognese for about a fifth of their needs.
Inside the Oasis in spring you can see the Alchechengi a beautiful flower with lantern-like goblets of a bright orange color.
The "passatori" (boatmen) of the Ponte di Vizzano
To cross the river Reno there were the "passatori", boatmen who transported people and goods taking advantage of the easiest points of the river. A thousand-year tradition remained unchanged until 1930, when a teacher made a petition for the construction of the bridge in such a way that her students could cross the river to reach the school in any climatic condition.
A picnic at the Prati di Mugnano
Place of the classic trip out of town for the Bolognese, the Natural Agricultural Park of the Prati di Mugnano offers the ideal setting for a panoramic stop to combine with food: paths that are lost in the woods, flower meadows, equipped areas, a restaurant ...
What to ask for more?
The mandragola of the "Nova Arbora" Garden
The mandrake grows today at the "poison garden", one of the peculiarities of the "Nova Arbora" Botanical Garden, an enchanting oasis where one can enjoy a well-deserved rest between plants, fruits and flowers.If you decide to visit the "Nova Arbora" Garden, it is worth following the detour before the Prati di Mugnano to take a look at the centenary "Fantini's vine". Info: www.novarbora.com/giardino-botanico
The mystery of the Colombario of Monte del Frate
Dovecot or valut lined with burial lines? The Italian word "Colombario" is used to translate both of them. There are two theories about this deep cavity with two big slits and many small man-digged holes: an Etruscan or Roman burial place for cremated people or a place used for pigeon farming. The 200-metre deviation is just after the Antica Hostaria di Badolo.