Bologna- Last Day

My last day in Bologna started wonderfully. On my third attempt I finally made it to the Sette Chiese complex. It’s a group of seven churches centered around St. Stefano Basilica and while the basilica can be seen at any time the other churches are on an odd schedule.

Note St. Peter looking almost exactly like Bodhidharma.

And outside St. Stefano’s there was an antiques market. Now, there’s a flea market just about everywhere I go, but antiques? That was much more fun.

I even found one doll of the kind I like, but, unfortunately, not in a good shape. Those markets are always interesting, but can make me sad if I let them – there are so many obvious collections there – puppets, or bird brooches, or porcelain figurines. I saw two bouquets made out of beads – some woman spent hours on these and no one wanted them after she was dead. It’s the kind of thing that makes one want to stop making things and embrace strict minimalism.

From there I went to Palazzo Albergati to see Fantastic Animals.

It’s a really beautiful exhibition around the concept of fairytale animals and their unity with humans. Here are some of the more striking things I saw:

Cow with houses (or castles? or towns?) inside by Mario Consiglio. For me a cow is the essence of peaceful life, a cow filled with small towns a perfect metaphor for civilization. This cow grazing and sleek, warm light shining through, looks like someone who’s been through a lot, and has scars and wounds to show for it, but is at peace and letting their inner beauty glow through the gaps. Consiglio’s message is, as much as I understand it, about surviving catastrophe and shining with a shared hope.

Unnatural history exhibits by Dario Ghibaudo

Giraffes by Sandro Gora, including Marylin on the grid, with air lifting up her spots.

Some completely flat canvases by Mario Ricci

Tangram rabbit and three-sided prism puzzle paintings (bird/fish/sea creature/animal/human) that viewers are intended to reconfigure by Camilla Ancilotto

Overall an exhibition it will be very pleasant to remember.

Afterward I went wandering, and found one of Bologna’s lost canals. This area used to be called Little Venice and the water served the local silk-making, but the canals are closed off and paved over now. There’s a small window to look at the small piece of canal that remains and a large queue to do so. I decided that I can do without a window view 🙂

At the end of the evening I took a random train tour of the city center and was glad to recognize all seven of the “secrets of Bologna” the audio guide riddled at the end.

Between Pelagio Palagi, the ceiling of the anatomical theater, the Fantastic Animals exhibit, the Lamentation for Christ, and the beautiful porticos in the quiet hills leading to St. Luca I’m glad I went to Bologna. As I travel more through this region I find more things I didn’t know about (like the whole Italy vs Pope thing, or the fact that Bolognese citizens were strong enough to keep Friedrich II’s son a prisoner for years or a view of WWII that is very different from both the Russian and the American ones).

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