HALF DAY (1.5 hours)
The Basilica of San Petronio is the symbol of the affirmation of civic power. It dominates Piazza Maggiore with its magnificence. This is a church that people of Bologna wanted for their city and they financed it entirely themselves. With its size it dared challenge the basilica of St. Peter in Rome and the Papacy. It was for this reason that the construction of the Basilica of San Petronio was opposed and blocked in its growth. Visiting it represents a journey through history starting from the year its first stone was laid (1390). This tour enables you to discover the anecdotes and events that made the church one of the most beloved places and monuments to all Bolognese people.
The storytelling will start with the unfinished façade, to which Jacopo della Quercia and Michelangelo gave their contribution, and it will continue inside with the visit of the 22 chapels that contain works of art created by the greatest artists. You’ll see the famous Chapel Bolognini (or The Magi Chapel) with the fresco of the Last Judgment by Giovanni da Modena that depicts Dante’s Inferno and Paradiso, and also the representation of Muhammad, so much discussed in recent years. You’ll see the tomb of Elisa Bonaparte, sister of the great Napoleon, and walking along the side aisle you will pass in front of the San Rocco del Parmigianino. You can visit the Museum where you can find wooden models to-scale and plans relating to the construction of the basilica. From here you can access, with special permission, the Rooms of the Fabriceria with the San Petronio Music Archive, containing ancient books thanks to which it is possible to follow the evolution of music writing.
Finally, returning to the aisles, we can see two of the oldest musical organs preserved until the modern day and the Cassini sundial, the largest in the world, which always amazes visitors with its precision and which still shows the date and astrological coordinates thanks to the sun that filters through the hole and from the magnificent stained glass windows of this amazing cathedral.
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