Parks and public gardens in the center of Bologna

Bologna has been for centuries a town full of large vegetable gardens and secret gardens among the buildings, with walking spaces in the Montagnola Park and in San Michele in Bosco. Later on, in the early 19th century, Napoleon decided that the Montagnola Park would become the first public park in Bologna. After the unifi cation of Italy the first large park outside the city walls was established: the Margherita Gardens.

1. Piazza Minghetti Garden

The square, that was created at the end of the 19 th century during the post-unification transformation of this part of the medieval town, has recently undergone modern redevelopment. Th e spectacular plane tree behind the memorial to Marco Minghetti, a statesman from Bologna, dates back to the original design and is one of the most majestic trees in town.

2. Piazza Cavour Garden

The first garden square after the unification, is surrounded by elegant buildings from the 19 thcentury. Th e garden, characterized by flowerbeds, walkways, a circular fountain tank and a bust of Cavour, features a big ginkgo, horse chestnuts, magnolias, yews and evergreen shrubs of Oregon grape, bitter orange and aucuba. Piazza Cavour Garden Casa Carducci Garden Cavaticcio Garden

3. Lavinia Fontana Garden Via del Piombo

The garden occupies a part of the old enclosed vegetable gardens of the 13 th century Santa Cristina convent, which was included for centuries in a wide rural area inside the town. In the quiet green area, named after Lavinia Fontana, a local painter, there are some large plane trees and a couple of poplars. A double row of mulberry trees grows in the adjacent university area.

4. Casa Carducci Garden Piazza Carducci

The small garden, next to Giosuè Carducci’s last home, was turned into a memorial in the ‘20s: the monument by Leonardo Bistolfi represents the poet with a thoughtful look and is surmounted by a huge nettle tree, flanked by cypresses, cedar trees and brushes of evergreen bush

5. Margherita Gardens – Porte Santo Stefano and Castiglione, Santa Chiara and Sabbioni Streets

Th e largest and most popular city park. It was designed by Bertone di Sambuy from Piedmont, to provide the town of Bologna with an appropriate public green area in the post-unification period. It was inaugurated in 1879 and dedicated to Queen Margherita, Umberto I’s wife. Although the place has undergone many transformations, a large part of the green area still has its original appearance, which vaguely resembles the large English gardens: wide paths lined with trees, a small lake with chalk cliffs, wide lawn areas, a grove of holm oaks, other more natural corners and beautiful tree species, mainly exotic (cedars, pines, horse chestnuts, plane trees, bald cypresses, English oaks and a sequoia). Th e works for the park brought to light an Etruscan burial ground, to which the travertine grave at the edges of the central lawn belongs. On the southern side of the lake there is a short uncovered part of the old Savena Canal (1176), one of the canals that used to cross the town

6. Villa Cassarini Garden Viali Aldini and Risorgimento

It stretches over the land of an old villa, which no longer exists, and was restored in 1934, when the School of Engineering (a rationalist work by Giuseppe Vaccaro) was built. Important Etruscan finds were made in the whole area. The garden, characterized by beautiful gates at the entrances and sinuous paths, has an oval with flowerbeds covered with grass in the middle. The green area is planted with big evergreen species (cedars, firs, pines, cypresses) and more recent deciduous species.

7. Garden of San Francesco’s Church -Piazza San Francesco

Two green areas surround the 13 th century church. In the first area, a natural continuation of the wide churchyard, ginkgos and ashes grow, in the second one there are cypresses, lindens and oaks. In the back, in a small backyard at the opposite side of Malpighi Square, a plane tree, which can be easily seen from a distance, is by far the most magnificent tree of the center of Bologna.

8. Cavaticcio Garden Viale Pietramellara, Del Porto and Gardino Streets

The garden is in the area of the old port of Bologna, along the Cavaticcio canal, which derives from the Reno canal. The current look is due to the recent restoration of the “Manifattura delle Arti”, an area that includes the Salara, the former warehouse for the salt . . that came from the coast of Cervia through the Navile canal and the Po river, MAMbo (the modern art museum) and some spaces which are part of the Cineteca (film library) of Bologna. Th e John Klemlen garden, edged with a thick hedge of ornamental shrubs, commemorates a South African pilot who died while fighting with the partisans in the Porta Lame battle (1944), and includes some city vegetable gardens grown by students and citizens.

9. Garden “11 September 2001” Gardino, Riva di Reno and Castellaccio Streets

The green area is delimited by the wall with big windows of the former Manifattura Tabacchi (tobacco factory), built in 1801 on the area of the old Santa Maria Nuova convent. In 1906, in via Riva Reno, an office building in art nouveau style was built, and is now the seat of the Cineteca (film library) of Bologna. Th e plants were bombed during the Second World War. Many different trees stand out on the lawns: a cedar, a polycormic plane tree, old fig trees, groups of nettle trees, black and white poplars.

10. Montagnola Garden Irnerio and Indipendenza Streets

Its modest height is said to be due to the rubble of the Galliera fortress, a 14 th century papal castle, or more probably to the piling of materials from the city construction sites. After the first half of the 17 th century the little hill became a place where people went for a walk and a place of amusements. According to Napoleon’s will, who passed through Bologna in 1805, the green area was redesigned by Giovanni Battista Martinetti, taking French gardens as a model. In 1896 the monumental stairway in Via Indipendenza, which overlooks the old Galliera city gate and the ruins of the fortress, was built. Inside the park, in the middle of which a big circular fountain tank with animal sculptures is, the foliage of majestic plane trees stands out

11. Botanical Garden Via Irnerio, 42

Founded in 1568 by Ulisse Aldrovandi, it was built in a courtyard of Palazzo d’Accursio, not far from the Archiginnasio, the first stable seat of the Bologna Studium. Th e botanical garden was moved many times, today’s seat, which dates back to the early 19 th century, is home to more than 5.000 local and exotic plants, even very big ones (magnolia, ginkgo, yew, cryptomeria, Canadian poplar, English walnut, liquidambar, bald cypress, etc.). Th e botanical garden includes some greenhouses (the collection of succulent plants is one of the most complete in Italy), a pond, a collection of medicinal herbs that resembles the old “gardens of simples” and plants that are typical of the Apennine woods

12. Garden of Guasto Via del Guasto and Largo Respighi

Today’s green area, created in 1975 and situated behind the municipal theater, lies on the so-called “Guasto dei Bentivoglio”: the ruins of Giovanni II Bentivoglio’s palace, which was destroyed with popular acclaim in 1507. In the original design of the garden, meant to stimulate children’s play, the cement areas are modelled in soft and sinuous shapes and encircle groups of maples, nettle trees, hornbeams and other species.

13. San Michele in Bosco Park Via Codivilla and Piazzale Bacchelli

Just outside the city walls, the hill (132 m) offers the most famous panoramic terrace over the city. The monastery complex, now the seat of the Rizzoli Orthopaedic Institute, was built in the 14 th century by the Olivetans; the church, rebuilt with the convent in the fi rst decades of the 16 th century, is attributed to Biagio Rossetti. At the end of the 19 th century the slopes of the hill were turned into a park to provide a green background for the hospital: now most of the trees, also due to later planting, are conifers of species typical of the western hills, among which some centuries-old downy oaks. Th e square off ers a spectacular view over Bologna and the plain, which struck visitors from all over the world through the centuries (to mention one Stendhal, who was in Bologna in 1817). Th e park is the starting point of the CAI 902 track, that winds for about 4 km through the hills, to the Forte Bandiera Park

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