In the words of our friend Brian Campbell, “Another tough day here in Bologna”. Now, it should be mentioned that this phrase, which he has said almost every day that we have been in this magnificent city, is said with as much sarcasm as he can muster, as everyday here has been more wonderful than the one before.
Today we took our morning lesson in the classroom, the Aula Gualandi. Professor Mueller gave a wonderful lecture on Bolognese dictatores and their influence on the history of oration and letter writing. We began the lesson with a discussion of “Rationis Dictandi” by Anonymous of Bologna, followed by a class discussion in which we talked about what certain parts of a written composition should contain. This began what was a very interesting lecture on the differences between many great dictatores and how they each contributed to the art of letter writing. We discussed the works of Brunetto Latini, Boncampagno de Signa, Guido Faba and Giovanni de Bonandrea. The section on Bonandrea was particularly interesting for me, as I studied one of his texts yesterday at the Biblioteca Universitaria di Bologna. One of the most interesting things I learned in lecture today was about Giovanni’s “Brevis Introductio”. This is one of his additions to the ars dictanis, and it created a category of the salutation for people of “quality”, such as notaries, clerk and merchants. I found this particularly interesting because Bonandrea himself worked as a notary for some years.
After our fascinating lecture, we had some lunch and then a few of us made an attempt to climb the Torri in the Piazza di Porta Ravegnana, but alas! we did not have enough time. Another day! After our lunch, we made our way to the Genus Bononiae- Museo della Città for a tour of the wonderful museum.
The museum is in the renovated Palazzo of the Pepoli family, and it is incredible! It is a very interactive museum, and there was not a dull moment. Every corner I turned I encountered a new room highlighting some of the most important moments, people and cultural aspects of the city’s history. One of my favorite exhibits was the Literature of Bologna exhibit. As Bologna is home to the oldest university in the western world (where I get to study- I am pinching myself as I type!), the history of the art of books and literature is vast and began long before the invention of the printing press. In this room of the museum, you are surrounded by old lectures, bound together in books, of many great teachers and writers of the past, Italian, French and American alike. Another exhibit I enjoyed immensely was called “Bologna the Scared”.
Bologna il Sacro.
In this room we were able to see an amazing media presentation on the journey of the icon of the Madonna di San Luca from the sanctuary on the Colle della Guardia to Bologna’s city center. The portico that the painting travels under is 3,796 kilometres long, with 666 arches and 15 chapels along the way. This makes it the longest portico in the world. As I was watching the presentation, our professore Flavia told me that she watches the procession every year. I thought about how wonderful this must be, how incredible it is to live in a city that is home to so much history and beauty. I cannot help but comment here about how wonderful our UNIBO professors have been. They are extremely kind and knowledgable, and their pride in their city is evident and contagious. I enjoy their company and their conversation immensely.
One of my favorite parts of the museum came at the end, in the last room that was called the “Geoblog”. In this room, visitors to the museum, Bologna residents and visitors alike are welcome to place post-its on a location on the city map that is meaningful to them. I placed a post-it on the location of UNIBO, with the message “Ti Amo, Bologna!”.
As another day in this enchanting city comes to a close, I continue to feel incredibly fortunate to be here. I can’t wait until tomorrow when we head to Ravenna! But I cannot help but think I will miss Bologna.