Basilica of San Petronio
The Basilica of St Petronio, honoring the patron saint (eighth bishop of Bologna from 431 to 450), is the most imposing (a length of 132m, a width of 66m, a height of 47m) and the most important church in Bologna. In the recent years the Basilica, considered the local power symbol in contrast with the Vatican power featured by St Peter's Cathedral, have always been administrated as a town setting up. Building started in 1390 under the supervision of the architect Antonio di Vincenzo and the church's original design was created to celebrate the reconquest of the town. In 1514, Arduino degli Arriguzzi proposes a new model with a Latin-cross aimed to overtop St Peter's Church in Rome. According to the legend, Pio IV stopped the costruction of this megalomaniac dream and requested to build up the Archiginnasio. Even the facade was left incomplete; the central nave covering and the apses shooting, designed by Girolamo Rainaldi and directed by Francesco Martini, were completed only in 1663; the lower naves were closed by rectilinear walls.
Built in 1470 by Lorenzo da Prato and symbolized by the most prestigious and older functional organ in the world, the bolognese musical Chapel was once very famous. Another organ, more recent (1596), belongs to Baldassarre Malamini and despite its 400 years it is still functional as well.
In 1894, Museo di San Petronio opened with the projet of T. Azzolini.
There are then four crosses of stone between the chapels 1-2, 9-10, 13-14, 21-22 that, according to the legend, St Petronio placed at the perimeter's angles of the town then, in the next centuries, the circle of the selenite walls have been defined.
Facade - In 1538, Giacomo Ranuzzi started the marble facing, designed by Domenico da Varignana, but left it incomplete. The finished part has been decorated by works of the sculptors Jacopo della Quercia, Amico Aspertini and Alfonso Lombardi.
The facade of the Basilica is now under reconstruction and cleaning. It is covered by a big panel with a photo representing the front part of the church. The aim of renovations is restoring to the bricks the original red colour. According to estimations, the facade will be uncovered in 2013 in occasion of the 350th anniversary of the end of its construction.
Main doorway - Dating back from 1425, the central portal is a masterpiece of Jacopo della Quercia. Old Testament's scenes are represented on the pillars and 18 prophets on the arcivolt. New Testament's scenes are represented on the architrave, then a beautiful Madonna and Child and Sant'Ambrogio and San Petronio on the tympan. The central tympan's arch is a Amico Aspertini's work;
Side doors - Noteworthy are both The "Resurrection" of Alfonso Lombardi on the left door and the "Deposition" on the right one;
Sides and Bell tower - The sides are made from cuspidate chapel red bricks. The first two windows ornaments (1393) were designed in both sides by Antonio di Vincenzo with the collaboration of Francesco di Simone, Domenico da Milano, Pagno di Lapo Portigiani and Antonio di Simone. And the bell tower was planned by Giovanni da Brensa. (1481-1487);
Interior - Even though the interior of the temple was built up in another period, it has marvellous classical features, far from the ultramontane Gothic. It is divided in 3 naves sopported by ten pillars with polygon rib soaring arches and vaults: the main nave's spans have a square shape. In the lower nave there are twenty-two chapels;
St Abbondio's Chapel (I) - formerly Dieci di Balia - In 1865, Albino Riccardi restored it in false Gothic. The only old thing is the ornamental decoration with the patron's coat of arms (1397) as well as two big frescoes touched up by Giovanni da Modena (around 1420): on the right side "The Catholic Church triumph on heresy" and on the left side "The Redemption of the original sin". In 1530, Charles V was crowned imperor by Pope Clement VII;
St Petronio's Chapel (II) - formerly Cospi and Aldrovandi - Designed by Alfonso Torreggiani and it had been destined to contain the relic of St Petronio's patron. The vault had been decorated by Stefano Orlandi and Vittorio Bigari;
St Ivo Chapel (III) - formerly Brigida dei Foscherari - In this chapel, there are statues of Angelo Piò, an ancona with "Madonna of St Luca, St Emidio and St Ivo" by Gaetano Gandolfi and on its walls there are illusionistic trompe d'oeil of Prospero Pesci, "St Charles Borromeo" by Francesco Bizzi and "The Virgin apparition to St Francesca Romana" by Alessandro Tiarin (1615).
Two of the first clocks made with the pendulum correction in Italy, designed by Domenico Maria and Cristino Fornasini (1758), cover part of the next pillar;
Kings Magi's Chapel (IV) - formerly Bolognini and Salina Amorini - This is the only chapel that preserves the original ornament in an almost intact way. The marble Gothic railing had been designed by Antonio di Vincenzo (1400). The "Polittico ligneo" and the polychromatic windows have been painted by Jacopo di Paolo. Giovanni da Modena did a magnificient fresco of the walls with a series of representing: "The Heaven" and "The Hell" on the left side, "The Kings Magi's stories" on the right wall, on the rear wall "The St Petronio Consecration" and scenes about his life;
St Sebastian's Chapel (V) - formerly Vaselli - In this chapel, you can admire the large temperra painting "St Sebastian's Martyrdom", "Our Lady of the Annunciation" and the twelve "Apostles" designed on canvas by Lorenzo Costa; "The Annunciation Angel" painted by Francesco Francia;
St Vincenzo Ferrer's Chapel (VI) - formerly Griffoni, Cospi and Ranuzzi - You can admire the large painting with the Saint by Vittorio Bigari (on the right) and the bronze monument of the Cardinal Giacomo Lercaro created by Giacomo Manzù (1954);
St Giacomo's Chapel (VII) - formerly Rossi and Baciocchi - You can admire the Lorenzo Costa's splendid masterpiece "Madonna in Trono" (1492) on the altar and his polychromatic large windows designs. Designed by Antonio Serra (1845), the tomb on the right contains the Prince Felice and his wife Elisa Bonaparte bodies;ù
St Rocco’s Chapel (VIII) - formerly Ranuzzi - On the altar you can find the Parmigianino "St Rocco" (1527). The big marble statue of "St Petronio" by Gabriele Brunelli (1683). The large windows were designed by Achille Casanova (1926);
St Michael’s Chapel (IX)- formerly Barbazzi and Manzoli - On the altar, you can find the "Michael Arcangel that crushes the devil" by Donato Creti (1582) and, on the left, the terracotta bust of Andrea Barbazza by Vincenzo Onofri (1479);
St Rosalia’s Chapel (X) - formerly Sedici del Senato, now del Municipio- There is an altar piece with "St Barbara’s Glory and the punishment of the murderer father" by Alessandro Tiarini. The Gothic walls and the vault’s frescoes are by Gioacchini Pizzoli (1723).
St Bernardino’s Chapel (XI) - In 1984, two fifteenth-century wind-chest sides of Lorenzo da Prato have been found during the restoration and placed inside the chapel. Then, in 1531, they were painted by Amico Aspertini with "Four stories of St Petronio";
Main Chapel - The four Veronese marble columns belong to the large tabernacle designed by Vignola. On the altar, you can find the big wood "Crucifix" with cherubs heads created by an anonymous person in the XVth century. On the apse’s back you can find an imponent fresco of the "Madonna with St Petronio" by Marcantonio Franceschini and Luigi Quaini on Cignani’s cartoons (1672);
The relics’ Chapel (XII) - formerly Zambeccari - The bell tower is on it. The canvas on the altar hide some reliquaries;
St Peter Martyr’s Chapel (XIII) - formerly Beccari’s Society - the marble sceen with cherubs heads (end XVth century) is by Francesco di Simone; the altar piece by Passerotti;
St Antonio di Padova’s Chapel (XIV) - formerly Saraceni’s and Cospi’s - The bronze heraldic busts are made by Domenico Mirandola. The Saint statue was created by Jacopo Sansovino or by Girolamo da Treviso, who painted in oils eight "Saint’s miracles" in 1526;
Santissimo’s Chapel (XV) - formerly Malvezzi Campeggi - The current appearance dates back from 1814 (Angelo Venturoli). On the altar, in a niche designed by Vignola, there is the "Trono del Santissimo" by Alessandro Algardi, who brought the marbles from the Ancient Rome ruins;
Immacolata’s Chapel (XVI) - formerly Fantuzzi - Fully decorated by Achille Casanova and by Renato Pasqui;
St Girolamo’s Chapel (XVII) - formerly Castelli - The Saint on the altar is by Lorenzo Costa;
St Lorenzo’s Chapel (XVIII) - formerly Garganelli, Ratta and Pallotti - You can find the "Pity" by Amico Aspertini;
Cross Chapel (XIX) - formerly the Notai’s - You can find Francesco Lola, Giovanni da Modena and Pietro Lianori’s frescoes. The magnificient large window was created by the blessed brother Giacomo da Ulma according to a Michele di Matteo’s design.
St Ambrogio’s Chapel - formerly Marsili - On the altar you can find a polyptych in fresco found suring the restoration about St Ambrogio, two warriors saints, Pity and Annunciation; The style is Vivarini’s (middle fifteenth-century);
St Brigida’s Chapel - formerly Pepoli - On the altar you can find a polyptych by Tommaso Garelli (1477). The Saint’s polychromatic bust is created by Giovanni Romagnoli;
Madonna della pace’s Chapel - The stone "Madonna" from Istria was created by Giovanni Ferabech (1394);
The inside facade - From the left: The minor door ornament is created by Francesco da Milano and designed by Alfonso Lombardi; On the golden door, Lombardi painted in relief the "Gioacchino’s encounter"; sepulchral brick-work monument created by Zaccaria Zacchi (1526); The ornament of the other minor door is by Alfonso Lombardi;
The St Petronio’s Meridian - In 1656, after Egnazio Danti’s meridian descruction, during the lengthening of the church, Gian Domenico Cassini, who was a teacher in Bologna, invented and created a new meridian. In order to calculate it, Cassini used some instruments now on show at the Museum. The St Petronio’s Meridian is the longest in the world (length: 67,72m, light hole: 27m from the ground, distance between the solstices : 56m); its length corresponds to the 600000th part of the earth meridian. In 1775, it was restored by the astronomer Eustachio Manfredi, who substituted the iron line with the brass one.