Bologna | Madonna mia! San Luca maybe one step too far
The guy at the Tourist Information at Piazza Maggiore takes a good look at me and says: ´there´s also a bus going up´. But when I told him that the weather is nice, the dog needs a walk and 4 km wasn´t so far now, was it, I didn´t know what I was in for yet. The church of the Madonna van San Luca is such a pretty picture in the sunshine of early spring, amber against a backdrop of the bluest of blue skies. In the evening the portico is lit up and you can see the entire gallery of 3796 meters from the autostrada, like a bright ribbon edging the hill all the way to the top.Waar ligt dit? Aanbieding Booking.com Onze verblijfstips Vakantiehuizen
The walk from Piazza Maggiore to the Arch of Saragozza is no more than a 15 minute walk crossing through cute little streets, passing magnificent palazzo´s dating back centuries in parts of the city you wouldn´t normally see. If you follow the via Saragozza you will at one point reach a large piazza with the remains of the old city walls.
Another half hour takes you to the Arco del Meloncello, an impressive structure from the early 18th century, built to mark the starting point of the portico of via San Luca, the pilgrims road which takes you up to the cathedral of Madonna di San Luca which dates from about the same time. The via San Luca was already a well-known pilgrimage in the early 15th century to a chapel on top of the hill, which was later replaced by the big amber church that we see today.
The portico road is deceivingly easy to start with. The views are not very spectacular however; the soccer stadium of Bologna and the suburban apartment buildings on the right and blank walls on the left, interrupted with uninspiring stations of the cross every other 100 meters or so. When I pass number 8 I start to wonder how many there are actually, was it 10 or 12? My non-Catholic upbringing doesn´t help me much. After 2/3 of the road the via San Luca suddenly increases in steepness and younger and fitter walkers are passing me left and right.
My dog wants water, and so do I actually. He does his best pulling me along on the way up. Looking up or down the gallery has now become very photogenic with its many arches, supposedly 666, I lost count. But the real grand views are a treat along the last 100 meters of the portico, stretching for miles of green south of Bologna, the church beautifully lit by the late afternoon sun. Someone behind me wonders out loud if pilgrims used to crawl the via San Luca on their knees. I think it´s quite an achievement on foot.
Going down is a lot easier and I am back at the Arco di Meloncello in a good 45 minutes. The tabacchi sells me a ticket for the bus and in 10 minutes we are back on Piazza Maggiore enjoying the last rays of sun of the day with an well-deserved aperitivo for me and a large bowl of water for my friend.
To read this article in Dutch please go to our special issue/Om dit artikel in het Nederlands te lezen gaat u naar onze speciale editie over Bologna.
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