Tremendous Terracotta


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Europe » Italy » Emilia-Romagna » Bologna
September 1st 2015
Published: October 13th 2015
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Hello my fellow travellers!

After a night of unfortunately somewhat poor sleep (due to the heavy traffic) I headed out into Bologna again. I left my bags at Giorgio since he was be working from home today so I could return and pick them up before I went to the train station. My first target for today was the Church of Saint Mary of Life to see these terracotta statues that Giorgio mentioned. On the way though I decided to finally visit the Basilica of Saint Francis, it's been closed for me twice now, third time is the charm! And indeed it was, I finally got to visit it and I enjoyed it (not as grand as the other basilicas but still nice enough).

I then made my way over to the Church of Saint Mary of Life and one of the staff asked me if I was there to see the masterpiece and I told him that I was so he showed me up a staircase to the breathtaking Oratory of Battuti! This is a true highlight of Bologna in my opinion, the oratory is filled to the brim with vivid paintings, each a masterpiece in it's own right and it just overflows the senses to be in there. However, even the painting pale by comparison to the centrepiece, the absolutely stunning piece known as the Death of the Virgin. It is the work of Alfonso Lombardi and features fifteen life size statues and an angel hanging from the ceiling. The statues depict the tomb of the virgin with the twelve apostles around it in various states of rage, sorrow and indignation. The reason for this is that a Judean is trying to defile the tomb but the angel intervenes and stops him. This piece is itself worth visiting Bologna for, it feels alive, as if the statues would spring up as living people at any moment.

Afterwards I pretty much followed the route me and Giorgio took last night to the Pepoli Palace where I checked up on the museum, but it was quite expensive to enter and didn't really seem like my kind of museum so I decided against is and instead went to the Minghetti Square where there is a nice statue of Marco Minghetti who was the 5th Prime Minister of Italy. Then I visited the the Chapel of the Holy Spirit again to see it in daylight. Just across the street from it is the marvellous Church of Saint Paul the Great which is definitely worth a visit with it's absolutely stunningly painted ceiling.

I then returned to Giorgio and he asked me how I liked the terracotta and I told him about it and described and then he told me he meant another one that I had missed! So, I grabbed my bag and headed of again, going back to see the real one this time! On the way though I visited the university to see the incredible Anatomical Theatre. I really liked it, it has a unique atmosphere to it and is kind of hard to describe, but it's certainly worth a visit! The university itself is very nice to visit, the building is absolutely stunning as it's halls are filled with the painted insignias of it's former residents. It gives these halls a genuine splendour and a very vivid and warm embrace of colours.

From the university I headed back to the Church of Saint Mary of Life and this time I actually looked at the right one, the Lamentation Over the Dead Christ, (tucked away in a corner behind the altar) and let me tell you that it was indeed worth the revisit! This is a splendid work of art with a very impressive range of emotions!

I now began to work my way over to the new university area to visit the Poggi Palace Museum which Giorgio recommended me as a more traditional museum. Unfortunately it was closed when I arrived there, it's apparently only open for a few hours!

However, I did manage to sneak in a quick visit at the small Church of Saint Sigismund. It's a quite inconspicuous little church located a bit off the main road so it's easy to miss. One thing that definitely makes this church unique and worth a visit is that it has the body of Blessed Imelda Lambertini. She was the daughter of a count who pleaded to be allowed to join the Dominican Convent and was allowed to do so even though she wasn't even ten years old. She begged to be given her first communion for several years despite her young age and when she was finally given it she died of a burst heart. Since then she's the patron of first communions. I don't know, it just seems kind of odd in a way that someone who died getting her first communion is the patron of first communions. Also I don't see how someone dying from receiving the sacred sacrament is a miracle? Anyway, it does give this church a unique setting and is worth the visit.

By now I felt quite satisfied with Bologna so after a quick visit to the Gate of Saint Donatus I got a bite to eat before I caught a train to Ravenna where I'll spend the night at Antonina's place. The train ride was very pleasant, the train itself was a local train and was at a good standard but what made it memorable was that I had good company with a nice young man who was going to go sailing with some friends from Ravenna. The train was a bit late and he asked if things wasn't more efficient in Sweden. When I told him that one in six trains in Sweden is delayed he was shocked and told me that it was a relief to him that even Sweden is chaotic like Italy, he would be sure to tell his friends what I told him!

When we arrived in Ravenna him and his friend showed me on the map how to get to Antonella and with that we said goodbye and I headed out to start exploring Ravenna. To be honest I haven't researched anything about any of the places I'm visiting on this trip. I just looked at google maps and decided I wanted to visit San Marino since it's the only micro state I have left to visit in Europe and from there I just found cheap flight tickets in and out of Bologna. Looking at the map I figured that Ravenna was close enough to visit during the trip and I knew I needed to visit Rimini since I had to take the bus from there to San Marino. I did however know that Ravenna used to be the capital of the Western Roman Empire so I expected to find quite some beautiful remains of the Roman civilization here!

Since it was quite late at the time of my arrival I didn't really visit anything besides for the Basilica of Saint John the Evangelist, it's a beautiful Basilica from the 5th century but it feels more modern since it was heavily bombed during World War II and then restored. Most of it's mosaics had already been removed though in the 18th century with only a few fragments of the original mosaics still remaining.

Once I came to Antonina she wasn't home so I called her up, turned out she had been called in to work briefly so I just waited outside her home, reading a book while waiting for her because I was to tired to keep moving. It was kind of fun when her neighbour came, she didn't speak any English and I don't speak any Italian and neither of us understood what the other wanted so I ended up remaining outside waiting even though she was meaning to let me in but I never understood if she wanted me to come in or leave or wait outside!

When Antonina arrived she made a delicious evening meal with beer and wine and then we went to a local bar to enjoy an evening of live music performed by a friend of hers whom have played on the international stage. The music was good and I got to shake the hand of the artist afterwards, it was a very memorable evening.

Tomorrow I will explore Ravenna more properly, I've learned that there is no less than eight UNESCO World Heritage Sites here! My main mission for tomorrow is to make a visit to them all as well as to the Tomb of Dante! After all, he is a very important historical figure so it will be interesting to see his final resting place. I also look forward to seeing the Mausoleum of Theoderic for the same reason, although I'm not sure if he's actually still buried there, I guess I'll find out tomorrow. And of course I also really look forward to seeing the Basilica of Saint Vitalis, I've seen pictures from it and the mosaics look divine!

Until tomorrow I wish you all peace and happy travels!


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13th October 2015

Bologna - city of porticoes
I was fascinated by all the porticoes in Bologna. I have been thinking about going back there again and after reading your blog I see that it would be worth it. Thanks!/Ake
15th October 2015

Bologna - city of porticoes
Oh yes, it is certainly worth it! Thank you yourself Ake! :D
13th October 2015
Lamentation Over the Dead Christ

Lamentation over the dead Christ
Great pic of what must be an extraordinary religious artwork Per-Olof. Religion seems to bring out the best and worst in people but when it comes to religious art it seems to bring out the best.
15th October 2015
Lamentation Over the Dead Christ

Lamentation over the dead Christ
It certainly does! That is one of the biggest reason why I still visit holy places despite being an agnostic. There is just so much breathtaking beauty to be found and this piece certainly leaves you in awe!

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