The Seven Secrets of Bologna, mysteries and legends of a city

Discover Bologna, a city brimming with secrets tucked away in its streets and beneath its iconic porticoes!

Unveil the intrigue of a place steeped in mystery, rumors, myths, and hidden treasures. Bologna boasts seven captivating secrets, each a tale of wonder and curiosity that has endured through the centuries.

Explore the vibrant and colorful history of this lively city, teeming with entertainment and endless possibilities for every taste. With its compact size, Bologna is easily explored on foot in just a day!

Let yourself be enchanted by the allure of a city cloaked in enigma and discover the fascinating secrets that whisper through its charming streets.

The First secret: Little Venice

The first of the Seven Secrets is the so-called “Little Venice.” Until the Middle Ages, Bologna was traversed by a dense network of canals that were later covered and diverted for reasons of public health.

The only canal still visible is from Via Piella, where, right next to the Biassanot tavern (at number 16), there is a small opening in the wall.

Right from here a small window opens onto the Moline Canal. It is a truly picturesque corner that often inspires the photographic vein of tourists (or instagrammers): colorful little houses and delightful little decorated balconies overlook the emerald water of the canal. On the opposite side of the street, however, there is a real little bridge that allows the same view to be appreciated.

However, what makes the little window on Via Piella so special is precisely the fact that it is somewhat hidden and invisible to the eye of “the unknowing.”

Here’s a little treat for you: there is another overlook that is even more beautiful. It is located in the little terrace of a small café on Via Alessandrini, the “Opera and Tulip Café.” Drinking a cappuccino there, admiring the other balconies overlooking the canal, listening in the background to the roar of the canal below is really wonderful!


Visualizza questo post su Instagram


Un post condiviso da Marine (@marine_myr) in data:


Visualizza questo post su Instagram


Un post condiviso da @thuyjewkes in data:

The Second secret: the wireless telephone

Beneath the vault of the Palazzo del Podestà in Piazza Maggiore awaits the discovery of a small stratagem used in the past for a truly noble purpose. Almost always, as you pass by, you notice people intent on experimenting with it.

If you are in company, arrange yourself at the ‘diametrically opposite corner of the vault from your companion and start whispering facing the wall. Despite the distance you will be able to hear loud and clear everything you are saying to each other.

The four-cornered voltone is thus transformed into a wireless telephone. In ancient times it was used by friars to confess lepers without running the risk of contagion.

Are you visiting Bologna and want to take amazing photos for your Instagram?
Join my Instagram Shooting Experience through the streets of Bologna, a real photo shoot through the most iconic places in the city in my company.
Read all the details here​

The Third secret: the three arrows

Walking along Strada Maggiore, porticoed on both sides and ancient roman Via Emilia, at the height of the entrance to Corte Isolani (which takes you to Piazza Santo Stefano), you can spot, embedded in the wooden ceiling, three arrows.

Once again it is impossible to pass by here and not notice small groups of people with their noses turned up, looking for these three famous arrows. They are not so easy to spot, blending, in fact, with the striations in the ceiling wood, but with a little patience you will see them too.

According to one legend, a noblewoman from Bologna was accused of adultery by her husband, who, to avenge the alleged betrayal, hired three archers to kill her.
The woman, who in addition to being very beautiful was also very cunning, at the very moment of execution, stripped herself completely naked, distracting the three archers who, missing the shot, shot the arrows in the direction of the ceiling where they remain stuck to this day.


Visualizza questo post su Instagram


Un post condiviso da Giulio Sebastiani (@cobin_flames) in data:

The Fourth secret: the erection of Neptune

The vigorous and mighty Neptune is one of Bologna’s best-known symbols and, yes, you read the title correctly. To observe what is actually a simple optical effect, stand on a black stone placed in front of the entrance to the Sala Borsa (known as the Stone of Shame). From there you will have the right angle to see how the finger of the hand of Neptune, God of the Sea, looks like his erection.

This is an optical perspective effect intended by Giambologna, the sculptor of the statue, at the height of the Renaissance.

The Fifth secret: Cannabis protectio

The fifth secret is definitely less known than the others, but it is in fact quite easy to notice if you have a spirit of observation.

Under the portico between Via Rizzoli and Via indipendenza raise your head toward the ceiling and you will notice the Latin inscription “Panis vita, Canabis protectio, Vinum laetitia.” As you can easily deduce, the inscription literally means “Bread is life, cannabis is protection, wine is happiness.”

The real meaning of the reference to cannabis as a source of protection has much nobler origins than one might imagine. In fact, at one time, the city economy was based on hemp: needless to say, its trade brought prosperity and wealth to the city, in other words, protection.

The Sixth secret: Panum resis

The signs of this mystery are very difficult to find and this “secret” is also very controversial, since only a few people claim to have discovered it: it is the phrase “Panum Resis,” which indicates how knowledge is the basis of all things.

This phrase should be engraved on the chair of the historical seat of the Alma Mater Studiorum of Bologna, inside Palazzo Poggi on Via Zamboni.

The Seventh Secret: The broken vase at the top of the Asinelli Tower

This secret, or rather this legend concerns the Asinelli Tower, the tallest tower located at the end of Via Rizzoli.

Indeed, it is said that at its top are the remains of a ceramic vase symbolizing Bologna’s ability to resolve conflicts in a civilized manner.
The real mystery to be unraveled is the logical connection between the shards of the famous vase and the problem-solving skills of the people of Bologna.

But Bologna is wonderful also because not everything has been unraveled…. not yet!

Are you visiting Bologna and want to take amazing photos for your Instagram?
Join my Instagram Shooting Experience through the streets of Bologna, a real photo shoot through the most iconic places in the city in my company.
Read all the details here​

There are probably other secrets of Bologna, although sometimes they are not defined as such.

They are narratives that enter the realm of legends and customary practices of its people and have made the tradition and history of this city.

Here are other curiosities and mysteries that are part of them.


The mystery of the Seven Churches complex

The famous “Seven Churches” of Bologna are not seven. There are five plus a crypt. From the outside looking in at the facade of St. Stephen’s Church, it appears as a normal, ancient Romanesque church. Inside, the visitor discovers that it encloses several interconnected rooms dating from different historical periods with widely varying architectural styles.

While this is not exactly a secret, the atmosphere one feels when entering the first of the “seven churches” and then moving on to the second, is truly mysterious.

And here is a curiosity: on the facade of St. Stephen’s Church, just below the information plaque, you will be able to make out, on a raised tile, a small bird. This effigy is a mystery in itself; first of all, it is not known whether it represents a chicken, a pigeon or a sparrow. And again, its true meaning and why it was depicted in that very position is not understood.


Visualizza questo post su Instagram


Un post condiviso da bolognacasamia (@bolognacasamia) in data:

Birth streetlight

On the corner of Palazzo Re Enzo, between Piazza del Nettuno and Via Rizzoli, there is a very detailed Art Nouveau lamppost that you are sure to notice.
It is said that in the past it was connected to the delivery room of Bologna’s “Maternity” (once located on Via d’Azeglio) and that it lit up every time a Bolognese was born.


The porticoes to San Luca

Finally, what I call a peculiarity and therefore a secret curiosity, the long portico leading to the basilica of San Luca. San Luca is a spectacular shrine, the quintessential symbol of Bologna and “Bolognesity,” so much so that its citizens re-entering the city from outside begin to feel “at home” as soon as they catch sight of it coming in by train or even from the highway. To reach the basilica, it is necessary to walk through a very long portico that starts from Via Saragozza and reaches its entrance. The most peculiar thing about the portico: not everyone knows that it is the longest portico in the world, 3796 meters with 666 arches.

And there is also an “evil” detail, so to speak. The number 666 is the number that represents the Devil. Thus, some Bolognese legends, hand down how, this famous sinuously shaped portico depicts a serpent symbolizing the Devil advancing toward the hill, while the Sanctuary represents the Virgin Mary, crushing his head.

San Luca is a place that, suggestions or legends aside, is definitely worth a visit. If you don’t feel like walking the entire portico, know that you can also easily get there with the “San Luca Express,” a folkloric little rubber train that leaves from Piazza del Nettuno. Once you get off, you will be ecstatic to admire the grandeur of the Sanctuary that dominates the Colle della Guardia, and the striking view of Bologna that stretches at its feet

Did you like this article?

Save this article on Pinterest to read it again whenever you like

Do you want to ask me for advice, share your opinions, suggest something to do or see, or simply… say hello?

Leave me a comment below or,

I’ll be waiting for you on my FACEBOOK page LETYGOESON

on the INSTAGRAM profile @letygoeson

Or follow me on Pinterest Pinterest so you don’t miss any of my travel articles, itineraries, tips, and food recommendations.

See you there!

0 commenti

Invia un commento

Il tuo indirizzo email non sarà pubblicato. I campi obbligatori sono contrassegnati *

Ciao! Sono Lety

Lety goes on

Follow me on Bloglovin’


Follow me on Pinterest

Instagram Shooting Experience a Bologna

Il mio armadio su Vinted

Instagram Shooting Experience a Bologna