Monday, July 20, 2009

Italy - Bologna

On the last day of the trip, we took the train to Bologna and met up with another friend. He gave us a quick tour of the city (really excellent, so if the astronomy thing doesn't work out...).

This is the Basilica of San Petronio. The building was started in 1390 and completed in 1659, although the facade remains unfinished. Many plans for completing have been proposed but, as our friend remarked, "in typical Italian fashion, nothing's happened." Inside, there's the longest meridian line in the world, 66.8m, calculated and designed by Cassini. A description and photo of it can be found here.

Bologna is notable for all its arcades, allowing pedestrians to walk protected from the (very hot) sun. I didn't get a good picture of them, unfortunately. Bologna is also home to the University of Bologna, the oldest existing university in the Western world (founded in 1088!). Here's a photo of the anatomical theater (which dates to 1637).
The Seven Churches (Santo Stefano) is a collection of four (once seven, hence the name) Medieval churches, interlocked into one big complex. Parts of the church date to the 5th century and it's well worth a look. This photo isn't of the front or any particular part, but the wall caught my eye.
There were once over a hundred towers in Bologna, built by the richest families in Bologna in the 12th and 13th centuries. Many have collapsed or been destroyed. The two towers here are the most famous. The taller one is the Asinelli tower (97m) and the smaller the Garisenda tower (48m). Both of them are crooked. The Garisenda tower once stood 60m, but was lowered when it started to lean dangerously. It's mentioned several times in Dante's Divine Comedy.
After the tour, we had lunch (I had some really excellent melon and prosciutto) and headed to the airport.

And (woo-hoo!), I'm done blogging about Italy just in time to go to Salzburg tomorrow.

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