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The Province of Bologna: a Musical Medley

A Holiday Set to Music: Agritourism in the province of Bologna
 
The Province of Bologna: a Musical Medley This itinerary is intended to be a fitting and heartfelt tribute to a region of incomparable beauty, recently damaged by seismic activity. However, it is above all intended as an important message: it is vital to understand the exact dimensions of the earthquake and to understand that there are dozens of municipalities in Emilia Romagna that have not been affected by the earthquake and that the best way to help those who have been hit is to encourage the economy by continuing to visit these other places, to go on holiday there and to enjoy the beauties they offer.
To cancel your reservation and change your holiday destination will only worsen the problem by creating enormous economic damage to a region where, we repeat, dozens of towns and country areas remain completely untouched by the earthquake.

Emilia Romagna, warm-hearted by nature awaits you with open arms.

 
If Bologna immediately brings to mind Piazza Maggiore, the Basilica of St. Petronius and the Fountain of Neptune, then think again. Forget the classic Bologna and let yourself be transported note by musical note on a journey that will reveal a unique and exceptionally musical province.
Besides the melodious sound of nature, if you stay at an agritourism in the province of Bologna, you'll not only hear the distant echoes of music from the past, but also captivating contemporary notes.
Perhaps not everyone knows that Bologna has been selected by UNESCO as 'Creative City of Music': in fact, there's an ancient and indissoluble link between the city and this noble art. It's no coincidence that Bologna was the birthplace of Guglielmo Marconi, inventor of the radio, or that the first free radio station was set up here in 1974.
Our musical tour should start from Palazzo Carrati with its resident Philharmonic Academy. In the past, the Academy has included among its ranks Mozart, Rossini and Farinelli. In honour of the great composer Rossini, a visit is due to Casa Rossini, where the genius lived for about twenty years. Written in Latin on the façade we read: "It is not the owner who should be proud of the house, but the house of its owner."

And now let's move on to Via Cesare Battisti 7/B, where the Doctor Dixie Jazz Band, the longest running amateur band in the world, has been playing since 1972 – on occasion joined by guest artists such as Pupi Avati and Lucio Dalla.
Another address, another temple of music: at Via Paolo Fabbri 43 lived the great Francesco Guccini, one of the founding fathers of the Italian singer-songwriting tradition. In1976 Guccini named an extraordinarily successful album after this address, with the result that hundreds of enthusiastic admirers made a pilgrimage to his door.
The melody continues in the Church of Santa Cristina, home to Gregorian music and chant. The fame of its choir is due to its particularly fortunate architecture, which has granted the church extraordinary acoustics. Take advantage of your visit to the church to admire frescoes by the Carracci family and Guido Reni's sculptures.

If you want to take a quick leap into the past, head to the International Museum of Music, which contains precious autographed sheet music, Vivaldi, Rossini and Respighi memorabilia, and priceless ancient musical instruments.
Our musical exploration of the province of Bologna takes us next to Sasso Marconi, a picturesque town where the impressive and elegant Villa La Quiete is located. Wrapped in a mantle of green hills, this former eighteenth-century mansion was once home to the singer Etelka Gardini Gerster, who turned it into a singing school for girls aspiring to a career in the opera.

A few kilometres away at Pianoro, a highly unusual natural phenomenon occurs. On 8th September each year, a very different kind of music is heard when large swarms of winged ants head towards the Mountain of Ants, where they decide to die. The mountain takes its name from this curious age-old event; indeed, even the ancient shrine of Santa Maria di Zena in the nearby vicinity was once called the Madonna of the Ants.
More music again in Castel San Pietro Terme, whose symbol, the Castle Keep built in 1199, houses a theatre which presents a series of interesting and varied concerts and performances to cater for the artistic tastes of a wide-ranging audience.

It often happens that an event is not given a suitable setting, but this is by no means the case when you travel to Zola Predosa, a few kilometres from Bologna city, to visit the Cultural Centre and Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, Ca' La Ghironda. In addition to housing a collection of modern and contemporary sculpture and painting, the museum is embellished by a magnificent open-air theatre set in ten hectares of parkland. A true multi-purpose centre, it provides its own spectacle during a performance in a game of Chinese boxes that refers in turn to different forms of beauty.
And to end, a note on food and wine. In the small town of Castello di Serravalle there's an Ecomuseum Museum of the Hills and Wine, a tribute to the ancestral link that unites man to his environment and the local economy.
This itinerary for the province of Bologna is also meant to go beyond the notes, because like only few things in this world, music is able to create a meaningful experience, letting a part of the universe enter us that leaves a profound and indelible impression.

Do you know that…?
Any day is a good day for exploring the wonders of Bologna's Basilica of San Petronius, but if you're single or have heart problems, certain days of the year are more auspicious than others. This is because on these particular days, when the sun has crossed the old sundial from 1655, the sun, the chapels and the columns of the church together form a unique heart-shape. According to popular tradition, those lucky enough to witness this phenomenon will be married within the year. Maybe even in the Basilica of San Petronius!


Michela Bilotta



 

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