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Bologna water tour soft

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.
Only some toponyms remain from a dense network of the old hydraulic system. All water canals were buried underground.
You can understand the importance and the presence of water in the city when waking through the significant places related to the water system of the city.
The itinerary starts at the Piazza Maggiore, passing next to the Fountain of Neptun, walking along Via Rizzoli up to Piazza della Mercanzia dominated by the Palazzo della Mercanzia. Then you take Via Zamboni, you turn left into Via del Carro, you pass under the “voltone” with a mask – antique gate of the old Jewish ghetto. The river Aposa runs under the ghetto. You take Via dell'Inferno on the right, you continue up to the small square “Piazzetta Marco Biagi” where you exit from the ghetto and you enter into Piazza San Martino.

On your right side, there is the entrance into the San Martino's church called “in Aposa”. After the visit of the church, you take Via Marsala on the left, then Via Mentana to arrive in Via delle Moline, one of the old canals of the city. On the crossing with Via Capo di Lucca, you can hear the noise of the weir of the water canal – its energy was used to run grain watermills on the Canale delle Moline. You turn back into Via Oberdan, then you take the first street on the right Via Bertiera and again on the right into Via Piella passing under the gate Porta Govese (called also Torresotto dei Piella). Passing under the gate, you arrive to a small bridge with a small window where you can see the water stream of Canale delle Moline.
At the end of Via Piella, you turn to the left into Via Righi, you cross Via Indipendenza, you walk through Via Falegnami up to Piazza della Pioggia where you can visit the Santa Maria della Pioggia's church.  You continue through Via Riva di Reno, you turn right, you walk through Via Polese and then you turn on the left into Via del Porto. You cross Via Marconi and Piazza dei Martiri to join Via Don Minzoni where you find the old Salara (deposit for the salt), that is part of the area called today Manifattura delle Arti (Manufactory of Arts). From Via Don Minzoni, you take Via Fratelli Rosselli to the South, you cross Via del Porto again, then Cavaticcio canal, Via Azzo Gardino, the Park of the Ex-Manifattura Tabacchi (former Tobacco Factory) and you join Via Riva di Reno again.
On your right hand side, you can see the Church of Santa Maria della Visitazione or of Ponte delle Lame that once was surrounded by waters of the Reno canal. If you follow the Via Riva di Reno, you will find the Santa Maria della Carità's church.  You cross Via San Felice to walk along Via della Grada until the headquarters of the Consorzio del Canale di Reno  where you can find also the Santa Maria e San Valentino della Grada's church. You turn back to Piazza Maggiore, walking through Via San Felice or Via del Pratello and then Via Ugo Bassi.

Piazza Maggiore

Piazza Maggiore

Piazza Maggiore is located at the very centre of Bologna. In the past the square underwent many changes and was further enriched with important buildings: Basilica di San Petronio, Palazzo dei Notai, Palazzo d'Accursio, Palazzo del Podestà and Palazzo dei Bianchi.

Fontana del Nettuno

Fontana del Nettuno

Fontana del Nettuno (Fountain of Neptune) was built between 1563 and 1566 by the Flemish sculptor Giambologna.

Palazzo della Mercanzia

Palazzo della Mercanzia

Seat of the Chamber of Commerce, Industry, Agriculture and Crafts, Palazzo della Mercanzia has governed trading and business activities of Bologna since the late 14th century.

Via Zamboni

Via Zamboni

Via Luigi Zamboni is a historic street located in the center of Bologna and heart of university life. It crosses Piazza Verdi and Largo Respighi where there are Teatro Comunale and the offices of many faculties.

The former Jewish ghetto

The former Jewish ghetto

The layout of Bologna's 16th century ghetto can still be precisely traced amid the narrow streets in the medieval heart of the city under the Two Towers.

Torrente Aposa

Torrente Aposa

It is the only natural river in Bologna. It originates in the hills and empties into canale Navile. Torrente Aposa is 7500 meters long.

Piazzetta Marco Biagi

Piazzetta Marco Biagi

Piazzetta Marco Biagi is located in the Jewish ghetto, between via dell'Inferno and piazza San Martino.

Piazza San Martino

Piazza San Martino

The square can be divided into three different areas: two of them lead to via Valdonica and via Marsala respectively, and the third one is the yard of San Martino's Church.

Chiesa di San Martino

Chiesa di San Martino

Since the XIII century San Martino has been the cradle of the Bolognese community of the Carmelites Order. The church was built in the first half of the fourteenth century. It was provided with brick vaults in 1457 and with a new facade at the end of the XV century ( then it was reshaped in Gothic style in 1879). The inside part is elegant and spacious, brightened up by beautiful noble chapels of the Renaissance where some precious paintings are kept.

Canale delle Moline

Canale delle Moline

It is the extension of canale di Reno. Few meters after the walls of Trecento, it joins Torrente Aposa that flows under the city.

Porta Govese

Porta Govese

Is also called Torresotto dei Piella. The Torresotto in Via Piella belongs to the second circle of walls, which began in the late twelfth century.

Finestrella di Via Piella

Finestrella di Via Piella

This corner of the city is known as "little Venice". Looking out among the buildings, you can see one of the few stretches of running water, which was not covered with asphalt between the beginning of the twentieth century and the postwar period.

Via Indipendenza

Via Indipendenza

Via Indipendenza is the main street of Bologna. Now via Indipendenza is the heart of the shopping area

Church of Santa Maria della Pioggia

Church of Santa Maria della Pioggia

The Church of Santa Maria della Pioggia is located between Via Galliera and Via Riva di Reno. It was originally known as Chiesa di San Bartolomeo di Reno because during the Middle Ages the Reno canal flew next to it. The church was then named after Santa Maria della Pioggia, whose painting, still preserved inside the church, portays “Madonna col Bambino circondati da sette teste d'angeli” (The Virgin Mary with the Infant Jesus surrounded by seven heads of angels) and it is ascribed to the 15th century painter Michele di Matteo.

Via del Porto

Via del Porto

The street was the access to the Porto Naviglio, Bologna's docks for the transport of goods on the Canale Navile. In 1801, the Western part of the street was called Via dei Murelli  that was remaining about protection walls built for the security of pedestrians in the second half of the 16th century.

Piazza dei Martiri

Piazza dei Martiri

Piazza dei Martiri was originally named after King Umberto I. It was built in 1889 when this area was still mostly rural; as a matter of fact, here there were the ancient gardens first belonging to the Poeti and then to the Garagnani families. In 1945 tha square was given its current name, Piazza dei Martiri, to homage people died in fighting Nazis and Fascists during WWII. 

Salara

Salara

This building, known as Salara (the word “Salara” refers to the salt stored in the building in ancient times) was built at the end of the XVIII century and was originally used as a salt warehouse.

Parco 11 Settembre

Parco 11 Settembre

Public park near the Cineteca of Bologna, with entrances from Via Azzo Gardino, Via Riva di Reno and Via del Castellaccio. The park is located in the space of ex Manifattura Tabacchi.

Church of Santa Maria della Carità

Church of Santa Maria della Carità

This church has been rebuilt in 1583 on the plant of an old church. An extension was built in 1680 by G.B. Bergonzoni. Santa Maria della Carità holds many important works of art by Galanino, Valesio, Cignani, Franceschini, Quaini, Crespi, Carracci, Gandolfi, Calvi and Bezzi.

Church of Santa Maria e San Valentino della Grada

Church of Santa Maria e San Valentino della Grada

The Church of Santa Maria e San Valentino della Grada is famous above all because it preserves the remains of the priest and martyr San Valentino. Its name derives from the grada (a metal grille), still visible, through which the Reno Canal entered the walls of the city and that was mainly used to prevent possible enemies to enter the city.