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Things to do in Bologna

Home > Florence > Architecture | Art | Churches | Exhibitions
by Marta Pin (subscribe) MP
Published October 30th 2018
The unexpected art in beautiful Bologna
In Bologna City Centre

I had no idea what I could have seen in half a day in Bologna! I just took a train to have lunch with a friend of mine and ended the day surprised by my extraordinary discovers.

After a quick stroll around the city and the shops, we stopped in Santo Stefano Square for a drink. At that time, a suggestive installation titled "Pollution 2018", created by the architect Mario Cucinella and representing a real small wood had been set up in the middle of the cobblestone, facing the Santo Stefano Cathedral. However, this small city forest still allowed people to move and walk in and through the square thanks to a special platform, which was also useful for tired individuals to sit on it to chat, read or relax surrounded by a splash of green.

square - Bologna - Santo Stefano
Santo Stefano Square

Once we had our drink, my friend took me to Santa Maria Della Vita church, which is so popular for the breathtaking monumental complex inside.

The church is of Baroque style but within its setting was with another contemporary and temporary exhibition inspired by the topic of walking, in order to make a bond between the spiritual world and the artefact symbols. That is how we could understand the presence of a large number of green shoes whelming the marble steps.

Church - marble - architecture

The best work of art in the church is without a doubt the monument dedicated to Jesus' death. It conveys such a huge empathy and pathos that anyone falls into an ecstatic state due to so much intensity released by the complex's characters.

The scene features the Virgin Mary, Saint John and his mother, John the owner of the grave (in the group he is the one who holds the hammer and the pincers in the belt), Mary of Cleofa who is trying to push the dismay away and Maria Maddalena while she is dramatically throwing all the grief out.

monument - statues - scene
The monumental scene in Santa Maria della Vita

The Oratorio and the funerals of the Virgin Mary

Another masterpiece awaits the visitors in the Oratorio, a second bologna baroque space and a sort of a chapel of the building which corresponded to the private venue assigned to the confraternities for their religious and penitential rituals.

The Oratorio is a true chest of gold thorough details of the local baroque art, filled with bas-reliefs and stuccos. This architecture had been completed between 1604 1617, after following the previous project of 1400.

baroque - ceiling
The ceiling of the Chapel

The most iconic and wonderful piece though is the "The funerals of the Virgin Maria", which indicates a group of fifteen terracotta statues] - a little bit bigger than life-size - that are participating to the Virgin Mary's funerals. The power of the expressiveness and the refined dynamism of the group here reflects the talent of Alfonso Lombardi, who was able to deliver the totality of humanity and a different mood to any character.

The funerals of Virgin Mary
The funerals of Virgin Mary

Also, it would be worth paying attention to the walls, the columns and the ceiling of the room and the marble Saints into the niches, because of their pomp and harmony created with the rest of the architectural and art elements. Particularly, do not miss the tribute to Saint Petronio, the patron of Bologna, depicted with a scale model of the city with the Asinelli Tower adjacent his right foot.

architecture - art - baroque
The walls of the Oratorio

statue - Saint Petronio - art
Saint Petronio

Palazzo Fava and Sergio Vacchi Exhibition

After the dive into the past art, we moved to visit a contemporary exhibition at Palazzo Fava.

The Palazzo is an example of Renaissance style, built in 1580 under the Fava's family commissioning, which included decorations made by Ludovico, Annibale and Agostino Carracci.

Several changes occurred to the building during 1770, prior the demolition of selected frescoes and marble fireplaces. When the Fava's dynasty ended, the place was annexed to the closer Palazzo Ghisilieri and later on it underwent other different families' and companies' ownership, until it was completely abandoned for fifteen years. Eventually, in 2005 Palazzo Fava had been acquired by CARISBO - Cassa di Risparmio in Bologna and fully restored again in order to become the official Exhibition Palace of the city.

The frescos of the Palace

Sergio Vacchi display is entitled "Parallel Worlds" and it reflects the artist's interest for the visionary dimensions and the interconnection among the art movements of expressionism, figurative, surrealist and post-cubism.

painting - exhibition - Bologna
One of Vacchi's painting in the exhibition

Vacchi was born in Castenaso in 1925, a town close to Bologna, began his artistic career in 1946 and died near Siena in 2016, where he founded the Vacchi Foundation (indeed his grave is in the park of the Foundation. The research of Vacchi focuses to blend in his paintings the various languages of cinema, literature and comics in order to develop and strengthen this new artistic trend.

Greta Garbo portrait

A view form the exhibition

Within the two floors of the palaces, the canvas is divided into two themes: at the noble floor, there is the series of the "Big Cycles'' that dialogue with the Carracci's frescoes; while at the first floor a gallery of portraits and self-portraits dated since 1965 takes the scene. In each painting, the spectators can recognise other artists and intellectuals illustrated, because of their friendship and esteem toward Sergio Vacchi. The recurrent faces that have been put compulsively into the paintings are Greta Garbo, Otto Dix, Francis Bacon and many more.

The exhibition is open until November 25, 2018.
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When: Everyday
Cost: 15 - 20 euros
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