Nominated to be declared a UNESCO “world heritage site", the porticoes of Bologna, almost 40 kmlong, make the city of Bologna truly unique. Ever since 1100, when the growth of the University led to the need for new urban spaces, the porticoes have become private and public locations where people can socialise and trade, an open-air salon symbol of Bologna’s hospitality.
By taking a stroll through the city, you can encounter and appreciate various types of porticoes. From the wooden ones, such as the 13th century casa Isolani in strada Maggiore and the porticoes of via Marsala, to the 14th century "beccadelli”, semi-porticoes without columns, such as the one present on the rear façade of Palazzo d'Accursio and in Palazzo Ghisilardi-Fava. Very well known is the very high portico “dei Bastardini” in via D’Azeglio, so called because under its vaults, until 1797, the orphanage was located, as well as the portico of the Archiginnasio, known as “Pavaglione”.
The widest portico of the city is the four-sided portico of the basilica of S.Maria dei Servi in Strada Maggiore, designed at the end of the 14th century, the highest is in via Altabella where the archiepiscopal building has a porch touching 10 metres, and the narrowest, with its 95 cm, is located in via Sanzanome.
Beyond the avenues the long porticoed path of via Saragozza begins, which is the start of the most famous portico in the city as well as the longest in the world, leading to the Sanctuary of the Madonna of San Luca. From the first arch of porta Saragozza (Bonaccorsi), you arrive halfway to the Arco del Meloncello and then go up to Monte della Guardia. The portico is made up of 664 arches and measures almost 4 km.