BOLOGNA, ENCHANTMENT & TRIUMPH
The opulence of the historical buildings and the grace of the colonnades that embroider the city. A mix of late Gothic style and new, striking architectural directions
By Elena Luraghi - Photos Matteo Carassale
A triumph of period architecture and majestic colonnades that line the streets in the centre for kilometres, the historical Asinelli and Garisenda towers, the restaurants with expertise in ennobling the traditional cuisine, but also the home of Lucio Dalla in Via d’Azeglio and his Piazza Grande. To tell the truth, its real name is actually Piazza Maggiore: the striking drawing room in the heart of Bologna overlooked by crenellated medieval buildings (Palazzo d’Accursio, Palazzo dei Notai and Palazzo del Podestà) and San Petronio, the basilica which has towered high over the city’s rooftops since the 17th century with its structure in marble and bricks. In the original designs, the church was supposed to be larger than St Peter’s in Rome, but architects and political events resized it to make room for the Archiginnasio, which many consider to be Italy’s first univer- sity. Its corridors − sporting coats of arms bearing the surnames of pupils and “masters of Study” − are a Wunderkammer based on grandeur. It was the academic haunting ground of Leon Battista Alberti, Albrecht Dürer, Niccolò Copernico, Carlo Goldoni and Giosuè Carducci. In the 17th century, doctors such as Giovanni Girolamo Sbaraglia and Marcello Malpighi held their lessons in the Anatomy Theatre which had just opened, while in 1921 Albert Einstein enlightened the public there with memorable lectures on the theory of relativity, in the hall of the Stabat Ma
ter, covered in tiles and shields. Today Neo-Renaissance pervades the city and indeed revives the very glories of the past. Thanks to a new generation that mixes blue blood and entrepreneurial spirit, residential buildings that were once inaccessible have been opened to the public. One example is Palazzo Isolani, stately home and headquarters of Design Week, the event scheduled to take place from 25 to 29 September, during which visitors come to “admire the furniture amidst the frescoes, family portraits and the damask tapestries from the 1700s”, reveals Letizia Cavazza Isolani. Hers was the idea to transform the rooms on the top floor − for a long time home to Claudio Abbado − into a boutique bed & breakfast. “An alternative way of experiencing the residences of long ago”, adds the businesswoman. Chiara Campagnoli too, the patron of Palazzo Pallavicini – which takes its name from the count who brought the elite of international diplomacy to Bologna in the 18th century – invested in innovation and converted the restored halls where Mozart played in the promised land of creativity. “Here we host annual events like the Tea Festival, photography exhibitions and the February date with SetUp Contemporary Art Fair”, the director points out. The turning point was ingenuity, which has transformed itself into a series of long-ranging operations capable of turning disused locations into institutional cultural containers. The emblematic case of this phenomenon is that of the MAMbo, Museum of Modern Art, created in the former Bakery: it features canvases by Giorgio Morandi and a permanent collection that looks increasingly towards contemporary style. Not by chance, it is managed by Lorenzo Balbi; with his wealth of expertise gained at the Sandretto Re Rebaudengo Foundation in Turin, he also manages Art City, a calendar of events and expositions that attracts one hundred thousand visitors to each edition. “I focus most on up-andcoming artists and on post avant-garde works. This is why the collective exhibition on until 11 November − That’s it! On the newest generation of artists in Italy and one meter eighty from the border, in the Sala delle Ciminiere − is dedicated to under-40s Italians, interacting with the international context”, specifies Balbi. This showcasing venue relates Bolo-
gna to the world and is only one of the pieces in that mosaic with innovative features that draws its lymph from traditions. By coining alternative forms of expression. A little further on, in the hinterland, we reach the Ferruccio Lamborghini Museum, a temple to the memory and icon of fine Italian production, now managed − as the family business − by the grandchildren of the businessman from Emilia. Instead the factory in Via Paolo Nanni Costa is home to the Golinelli Foundation. An extraordinary philanthropic institution, modelled on private American ones, it has “an integrated vision of knowledge, education and training, which enables its students to experience the different fields of knowledge and ethics”, affirms Antonio Danieli, the director. In the same complex, the futuristic Arts and Sciences Centre − designed by Mario Cucinella Architects − hosts futuristic exhibits and traces the skyline with its ethereal silhouette: a transparent parallelepiped eight metres high and dedicated to maximum flexibility, similar to a high-tech cloud. Another unmissable new entry is the Cirulli Foundation in San Lazzaro di Savena. Here the historical archive and the exhibitions, such as Universo Futurista, open to visitors until 18 November, are consecrated to the culture of the 1900s, among the volumes of a building commissioned by industrialist Dino Gavina and designed by Achille and Pier Giacomo Castiglioni. At the entrance we can read a quote by Walter Gropius: “Perhaps Italy is destined to clarify the factors of modern life we need to establish our society on, to recover the lost sense of beauty and promote, in the industrialised era, a new cultural unity”.