Bologna 2.5

For my second full day I decided to get out of the city center and go to the San Luca Sanctuary, 5 km uphill. It’s a pilgrimage destiny, people go there to view an icon of Madonna and child known as “Madonna of St. Luca”. It’s supposed to protect fields from excessive rains. The sanctuary itself was unexpectedly unlike other churches and very beautiful.

But what I really wanted to see was not the icon, but the portico leading up to the church. It’s made up of 666 arches, to symbolize a serpent Maria crushes under her foot and includes 15 chapels (one for each Marian mystery) and numerous exvotos.

I expected a crowded place and was amazed that most of the people who rode up with me didn’t even get off the bus. Of the few that did I was the only one who bought a cupola ticket. The view from the cupola was arcadian.

The cupola itself very interestingly lined with rushes over the bricks. I’m guessing that rushes are there to help hold whitewash if and when the walls and ceilings were to be whitewashed, but it’s just a guess. Perhaps it’s for warmth, or perhaps rushes somehow hold the lime in until it dries.

After coming down I wandered around the city, saw

1. The Saragozza gate

2. A nice statue of Padre Pio

3. Graves of glossators (a kind of founding jurist in middle ages) and cool lion gate toppers at San Francisco

4. A playground in park Della Montagnola surrounded by huge statues of mermaids and predators gruesomely killing prey and each other (no pictures because taking pictures of playgrounds is kind of creepy)

5. The other Lamentation over Christ (good, but suffers from comparison with Della Arca) in the local cathedral (no pictures because people were praying).

6. Yet another monument to the capture of Rome. Seriously, these are everywhere and are one of the big differences between US and Italy.

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