Walking Under History: Discovering the Best Porticoes of Bologna

Porticoes Bologna

40 km of covered porticoes of different ages and styles makes Bologna a unique landscape to walk day and night.

And since 2021 they are UNESCO Heritage sites.

Which are the ones you can't miss?

1. The tightest: Via Senza Nome (Bologna)

Not even a meter large, that’s the smallest portico of Bologna.
It’s easy to get physically too close to strangers while walking there, hence the street’s appellation “Bad Name”, which turned into “No Name”.

2. The 3-layered: Biblioteca Salaborsa

Salaborsa Library is one of the most lively places in the city, set in the former town-hall stables.

The inside was realized with iron and glass at the end of the 19th century with its three porticoes overlapped, all painted.

Porticoes Bologna Santa Maria Servi

Portico and Basilica dei Servi

3. The longest: Portico di San Luca

Follow the enchanting rhythm of the arcades of Via Saragozza.
After almost 4 km you arrive at San Luca Basilica, the panoramic sanctuary on top of the hill.
It sounds challenging, but the reward is astounding.

4. The painted: Via Zamboni

From Latin America’s struggle for freedom to the most modern demonstrations, these bricks have definitely joined the clash.
These daubed walls still keep students' ideas since the 1960s.

Porticoes Bologna art

Art under the porticoes

5. The festive: Portico dei Servi

I could've named it "the romantic" or "the largest".
But Portico dei Servi and its Basilica are mostly famous for its Christmas market that every December fill the arcades with handmade artworks.

6. The fake: Palazzo De Banchi

A trimmed and adorned façade in the front, a bunch of confused poor windows in the back. This portico was built just to put an elegant cover on the rowdy and smelly roads of the Quadrilatero market.

Porticoes Bologna Portico Morte

7. The frescoed: Palazzo della Banca d’Italia - Via Farini

In one of the parts of shopping in Bologna, full of banks and fancy cafés, you feel the vibes of modernity strolling under a marvelously frescoed portico, the only one with painted vaults.

8. The one with the hole: Casa Seracchioli - Piazza della Mercanzia

What if you lived in middle-age, your neighbors were ready to kidnap your children, and the arcades stopped you from seeing who’s knocking at your door?
Better to make a hole in the floor and spy downstairs!

Porticoes Bologna Saragozza

Portico of Via Saragozza on the way to San Luca Basilica

9. The moving: Portico del Treno - Barca area

Outside the city center, made only in 1962 but still on the UNESCO World Heritage list of candidates.
This portico reminds a leaving train and it's the symbol of the Barca neighborhood.

10. The musical: Teatro Comunale - Piazza Verdi

Teatro Comunale was the most astonishing Renaissance mansion in town. Then it was destroyed by the fury of the people and now it's one of the best theater in Bologna.

Listen up: the rehearsals are boosted on the outside and you can hear them under the portico.

Porticoes Bologna Portico Morte

Portico della Morte with Nanni bookshop

11. The intellectual: Libreria Nanni - Via dei Musei

The oldest University in the Western world used to have its venue next door, and so many students have passed under the arcade of this bookshop, whose stands on the outside look like Paris' bouquinistes.

12. The one with the arrows: Casa Isolani - Strada Maggiore

Tall, time-worn, wooden columns and a secret: three arrows were stuck in the ceiling during a failed kidnap mission, back in the 15th century.
Bunches of people are looking upwards every day to count them all.

[Photo credits: Giovanni Racca, Lorenzo Gaudenzi, moke076, Davide Alberani]

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