This magnificent square, which started being built in the 13th century, is characterized by porched buildings on three sides. The gothic arches of Palatium Bladi on the western side. The portico of the Bentivoglio family's Palazzo del Podestà on the northern side. The portico of the Banchi, designed by Jacopo Barozzi (Il Vignola) and built from 1565, stands out on the eastern side. The portico of the Banchi is followed by that of the Hospital of Death, next to this is the portico of Archiginnasio, the seat of the university during the Counter-reformation years.
The stretch of via Marsala between via Oberdan and via Piella is characterized by the wooden porticoes of Casa Grassi (which originally had a loggia twice as long as the current one) and of the opposite Boncompagni houses, a typical example of residential architecture of Bologna from the 13th century, adapted to the culture of the end of the 19th century.
With the opening of Via dell’ Indipendenza (1888), a new type of portico is introduced, mainly for commercial purposes. The new buildings that were designed for this road that connects Piazza Maggiore to the new railway station and for via Rizzoli and Ugo Bassi define modern spaces, and are different from the structures of more traditional porches, considered dangerous or unhealthy. Porches get higher and wider and their design is influenced by Neo-Renaissance or Neo-Gothic models, with floral decorations, as is the case with the portico of the Majani palace by Augusto Sezanne, at no. 4.
Photo by Di Grinza
In some areas of the city that expanded during the 14th century there are still long porticoes, well preserved and built according to monastic allotment plans. They are also to be found in the following streets: Mirasole, Tovaglie and Solferino, San Leonardo, Centotrecento and Santa Caterina.
In particular Via Santa Caterina is characterized by a portico architecture that is extremely simple, with no arches and with architraves, a functional solution for the production and artisan activities that were carried out there.
Outside Porta Saragozza, the portico of San Luca stretches along via Saragozza and via San Luca and was built between the 17th and the 18th century as a covered devotional route to the sanctuary of the Holy Virgin of San Luca, starting from the initial loggia (the so-called “Bonaccorsi arch”) that is placed on the borderline of the walled-up town. The portico, which is 3,796 metres long and is divided into 15 pilgrimage stations, was built in the second half of the 17th century (from 1764) and designed by Gian Giacomo Monti. It consists of two different parts: a flat part (1,520 m) and a hilly one (2,776 m, that was completed only in the early 18th century under the supervision of Giovanni Antonio Conti). The two parts are connected by the Meloncello arch, built by Carlo Francesco Dotti in 1732.