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Bologna water tour - Canale Navile

Since the Medieval ages, the water has been the source of economic progress and prosperity. Bologna used to be the fifth biggest city by the number of inhabitants and the main centre of textile production in Italy during the 13th century. For many centuries, the water represented the main source of energy for manufacturing and commercial activities, especially mills for the production of silk (their models can be seen in the Museo del Patrimonio Industriale – Museum of the Industrial Heritage). So, it is not surprising that the Fountain of Neptun is the symbol of the city of Bologna.

This waking itinerary starts in the Park of Villa Angeletti and follows the water stream of the Canale Navile that used to be the main course of navigation and connection between Bologna and the river Po, continuing further on up to the port of Venice since the Medieval ages. The canal was used until the period after the Second World War and there were many small factories using the water energy – like kilns, mills and small hydroelectric power plants. The small factories with watermills are witnesses of the industrial history together with weirs and locks that had to facilitate the navigation eliminating different terrain levels. The itinerary starts at the Sostegno of Battiferro in Via della Beverrara, it continues along the Canale Navile up to the Sostegno Torreggiani, Sostegno Landi and Sostegno Grassi. The itinerary crosses the Ponte della Bionda and it ends on the Ponte del Vignola.

Parco di Villa Angeletti

Parco di Villa Angeletti

The green area covers about 8,5 acres along the right bank of the canal Navile. . It takes its name from Villa Angeletti which was destroyed during the Second World War

Canale Navile

Canale Navile

Origins of the Canale Navile are not clear. It is probable that there were some streams (or their parts) in the marchland used for navigation already during the Roman period. For about 700 years, this Navigation Canal was the main way to get to all ports of the Adriatic sea.

Sostegno del Torreggiani

Sostegno del Torreggiani

The Sostegno (Lock) Torreggiani was built around 1560. The complex is composed of the operating house, the lock for boats and some residential buildings.

Sostegno del Landi

Sostegno del Landi

So called also “Sostegnazzo”. Originally from 1560. The lock, still conserved is hexagonal.

Sostegno del Grassi

Sostegno del Grassi

It was built by Petro Brambilla da Gorgonzola at the end of the 15th century. The lock was rebuilt by Vignola fifty years later. The lock for navigation and the operating house are conserved.

Ponte della Bionda

Ponte della Bionda

Ponte Nuovo or Ponte della Bionda is a very old bridge over the Canale Navile. It was built at the end of the 17th century for horses who were pulling boats against the stream coming from the lower plain, sometimes even from the Adriatic sea towards the city.