Building on what I learned Tuesday from energetic tour guide Emilia, I headed out Wednesday to find Michelangelo here in Bologna! I also climbed Bologna's most famous tower, so overall it has been a pretty heady day. (And I still haven't opened my prosecco left by hotel management. THERE'S something to look forward to!)
It always makes me happy to find great art, especially when it's unexpected. Now, most visitors to Italy probably wouldn't be surprised to find works by great masters scattered about, but it's always a big thrill for me.
There are 3 very impressive sculptures by Michelangelo in Bologna's very beautiful San Domenico, a stunningly light and airy church filled with wonderful art and only a short walk from the Piazza Maggiore. The centerpiece of this church (which is nearly as big as San Pietronio on the main square) is San Domenico's spectacular tomb.
Emilia, my tour guide, had directed me to check out this work and even bought me some postcards so I could be sure to recognize Michelangelo's work on the ornate tomb.
The 20-year-old Michelangelo produced these 3 sculptures during a brief period when he was forced to flee Florence in 1494 after the death of his patron Lorenzo de'Medici. As Emilia pointed out, it's possible to see early glimmers of Florence's famous David in the Bologna sculptures -- almost as if these were studies for his greater, later work.
From there, I walked for just a few minutes to the beautiful Santo Stefano complex. I really was not prepared for what a fascinating, mystical site this is, with some remarkable symbolism imbedded in some of its oldest parts.
Santo Stefano was built over the site of an ancient religious sanctuary, a temple of the Egyptian goddess Isis, and elements of its origin can be found in San Sepolcro temple, which was modeled on elements of Jerusalem's Holy Sepulchre.
It was almost time for lunch, so I decided to climb Bologna's famous Asinelli tower to work up an appetite (and justify another great Bologna meal!) The climb up 500 stairs wasn't very difficult and took only about 15 minutes, to reach some really spectacular views. (Being a bitch, I have to confess that perhaps the best part was watching some teenagers practically retching as they stumbled up the final sets of stairs to the top. I may be older, but I'm fitter than they are!!!)