Archive for the ‘Emilia Romagna visit’ Category

Palazzo dell Archiginassio BolognaYes, it is a tongue twister, this gorgeous palazzo in the center of Bologna – Palazzo dell’Archiginnasio (Arkey-je-nah’-see-oh).

This was once the main building of the University of Bologna, Italy’s oldest university.

With the Cathedral of San Petronio, once a church well on its way to outsize St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome, the Fountain of Neptune and the food of Bologna to temp you, why visit? Read on.

The University was founded in 1088. It was not until 1563, when Pope Pius IV commissioned the construction of the Palazzo, that all university classes were consolidated.  Until then. classes were housed in various locations across the city. The facade of the Palazzo provides only a hint at the beauty within.

What draws many visitors to this fascinating and historic structure is the Anatomical Theater located on the second level of the palazzo.

Gli Spellati, Teatro Anatomico Archiginassio Bologna

Gli Spellati, Teatro Anatomico
Archiginassio Bologna

In 1637, Antonio Levanti was given the commission to build the theater, first of its kind in Italy. Constructed in both cedar and cypress wood, the theater was used for the first student human dissections permitted in Italy. The “Doctor” as the professor was called, sat on a special seat above the operating area. A large baldaquin rose above him,  upheld by carved figures of men with no skin on their bodies – called ‘gli spellati’ in Italian – created by Ercole Lelli. As morose as it may sound, the figures are beautifully carved, as are the busts and other figures in the theater.

Curiosity follows curiosity in this historic room. Statues of the most prominent physicians of Greece and Rome, Hippocrates and Galen, grace the front corners of the room. Directly across from the Doctors seat, above the theater seats, is a small door (often unnoticed by visitors). It was during the twenty-four hour dissections that members of the Dominican Inquisition would open the panel, observe and judge whether or not the teachings were heretical.

Under the watchful gaze of those judging eyes, the Doctor’s three meter pointer would be used to instruct the students in various important details about anatomy. If any of the teachings were judged inappropriate, the Doctor would have to pause instruction, then debate and defend his position.

Seat of the Doctor Archiginassio Bologna

Anatomical Theater, Archiginassio
Antonio Levante, 1637

Travelers have wondered why cedar and cypress were used to construct the theater. One only need imagine twenty four hour dissections, conducted with no break (and no opportunity to leave the room), to imagine why fragrant and odor absorptive woods were used.

In 1838, the gorgeous open rooms that once housed the University library became the home of the Communal Library for the city of Bologna. See IF YOU GO below for details about visiting the library.

This is certainly a unique and unusual corner of Bologna.

So, when you visit the city and have completed your time at the Duomo and the food market areas of the city, I highly recommend a visit to both the library of Bologna as well as the Teatro Anatomico in the Palazzo dell’Archiginassio.


Palazzo dell’Archiginassio:

Both the Palace (including the library) and the Teatro Anatomico are open Monday through  Friday from 09:00AM to 18:45 (6:45PM). On Saturday, hours are 09:00AM to 13:45 (1:45PM). On Sundays and Holy/Festival days the building is closed to the public.

NOTE: From 1 to 24 August, the building is open only between the hours of 09:00AM and 14:00 (2:00PM) Monday through Saturday. Sundays and Holy Days/Festivals the building is closed.


Over 38,000 manuscripts and incunabula, along with other objects, are now housed in the library. It is open to the public. However, you must leave your backpacks and books behind in a secure area when you register at the front desk. The only exception to allowing computers and other items in the library is if you present a letter of research from a college or university.

Teatro Anatomico:

The Anatomical Theater can be visited at any time during the palazzo’s open hours.

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The region of Emilia-Romagna is one of only a few provinces in Italy that does not touch the sea.What the region may lack in that access, it more than makes up for in the diversity and quality of its artisan products and meals. This is the heart of Italy’s very best food.  The centrally located provincial capital, Bologna, is easily reached in only forty-fives minutes by train from Florence. In addition to being home to the oldest university in Italy, the city also offers unforgettable architecture, fascinating history and the most delicious food in all of Italy.

If you wish to understand the production of this region’s best products, you need look no further than Emilia-Delizia. (http://www.guided-tours-italy.com/). Gabriele Monti and his staff provide exceptional service and offer a wide array of tours and tastings to satisfy the most demanding ‘foodies’ in the world.

Our clients have enjoyed spending the day with Sabrina, one of the guides who works with Gabriele, on several tours to this region. Sabrina arranged the following schedule, one which you can easily follow on your own. I do highly recommend, however, arranging for a private guide and car. Your insured and bonded guide from Emilia-Delizia will also offer to join you in your rental car to assist in getting around to these various locations.

We drove to the city of Parma about a forty-five minute drive north west of Bologna. After meeting Sabrina, we visited one of the finest producers of Parmigiano Reggiano in Italy-Consorzio produttori latte (C.p.l. Parma) (www.cplparma.it), located on the outskirts of that city. Sabrina easily explained the initial process of creating the cheese. It was not, however, until we entered the aging storage shelves in the rear of the building that we came to truly understand both the time involved in the aging of the cheese, but also the immense value of the product. Each wheel is valued at over Euro 800 and there were more than 800 such wheels in the warehouse. We followed our visit with a tasting of their cheeses. The true Reggiano had a sharp, almost vinegar ‘tang’, on the palate. The texture was dense but not heavy at all.

(Remember that you cannot bring food products back to the United States unless they are plastic sealed and have the commercial designation of the product on the container. Unless you wish to enjoy the cheese while you are in Italy, I recommend buying your Parmigiano at home.)

From the producer of cheeses, Sabrina brought us up into the hills above Parma to Salumificio “La Perla”(The Pearl).  (www.salumificiolaperla.it ). For over twenty years, brothers Carlo and Fabrizio Lanfranchi have been producing what is acknowledged as the finest dried Parma ham (prosciutto) in the region. Our drive from the cheese producer took about forty minutes.

Located near the top of a lovely hill, the family’s estate consists of a ham aging warehouse below a large restaurant. After an introduction to the receiving, preparation and aging of the hams, we were lead upstairs for lunch. The food was unforgettable:  a selection of their best prosciutto di Parma followed by several dishes of Tortellini in Brodo (freshly made pasts lightly covered in a broth of butter and sage). Dessert was a tray with various types of sweets produced in their immaculately clean kitchen. Wines, both white and red, along with ample fresh water, accompanied our meal. Coffee was available as desserts were presented.

Well satiated, we left La Perla behind and headed to one of the finest producers of Balsamic vinegar in Italy, Medici. (www.acetaiamedici.it). An acetaia, in Italian, is where balsamic vinegar is aged. As with all artisan products produced in Italy, the quality control of the process for producing aged balsamic is tightly controlled.

All vinegars that carry the Balsamico di Modena certification are aged a minimum of twelve years. In the case of the Medici acetaia, there are three levels of production: Red (18 years), Silver (25 years) and Gold (30 years). Signora Medici introduced us to the initial process of creating the vinegar. We visited the upstairs  room where the barrels rested. As with all such acetaias, this was located in a high room where heat can rise and keep the room at a reasonably warm temperature, even in the coldest months of the year.

All barrels have a small opening at the top. Across each opening is a simple linen cloth cover. This is a labor intensive, and loving, process. Each year, product is moved from barrel to barrel as the liquid evaporates. As the product ages, the level of liquid is reduced to a precious small amount. Different types of wood (cherry, oak, juniper, apple to chestnut) provide unique flavors and aromas to the balsamic.

Signora Medici offered everyone a sample of their products. The dark vinegar is as thick as syrup, luscious on the tongue,  further supplemented by sweet aromas. As we savored the “Red” level to “Gold”, the flavors became richer, more diverse and extraordinarily more complex. Once you have the original, you can never go back.

The Medici family also produce an array of wonderful wines and, for those interested, tastings can be arranged.

After bidding farewell to Sabrina, we headed back to our hotel in Bologna, the Hotel Porta San Mamolo (www.hotel-portasanmamolo.it/). This property is consistently rated one of the best hotels in the city. Located on the south perimieter of the medieval city walls  at the San Mamolo gate (hence the property’s name) the staff are extraordinarily courteous and accommodating. The rooms are comfortably spacious and the breakfast buffet each morning more than adequate.

All told, our day in Emilia Romagna barely even began to satisfy our craving for the incredible produce of the region. Yet, all was easily accomplished with the guidance of Sabrina and the support of the staff at Emilia-Delizia. If you are headed from Florence to Venice, or vice-verse, give yourself the gift of visiting this extraordinary, and little known, region of Italia.

As we headed north to Vicenza, the next stop on our tour, we vowed to return – and soon!



Contact: Gabriele Monti



Hotel Porta San Mamolo, Bologna:

Vicolo del Falcone, 6/8

40124 Bologna, Italia

Telefono. +39 051.583056

Fax +39 051.331739


 Consorzio Produttori Latte Parma: (C.p.l. Parma)

 Call ahead for open hours for visits


Spaccio baganzolino: Via Puppiola,15 43122 Parma – Tel. 0521.601313 Fax.0521.603742

Spaccio orario continuato: Via Casello Poldi, 7- Tel. 0521.272965

Salumificio La Perla:

Call head for lunch reservations to assure you of a table and guided visit.

SALUMIFICIO “LA PERLA” di Lanfranchi Carlo e Fabrizio S.n.c.

Localita’ Quinzano sotto, 3 – 43013 Langhirano (PARMA)

E-mail: info@salumificiolaperla.it

Telephone and Fax: +39 0521 853572

 Acetaia Medici, Tenuta Rampata:

 Call ahead for hours:


Strada per S.Ilario, 68

42027 Montecchio Emilia (RE) – Italia

Tel. 0522/942135

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Welcome to the world of Private Italy Tours LTD

The goal of our journeys is to expose travelers to the exceptional heart of this stunning country. Clients have time to explore and relax on their own; in Florence and the hill towns of Tuscany, afloat on the canals and lagoons in Venice, along the narrow streets of villages in Umbria, amidst the Roman ruins in and around Rome, while driving along the spectacular Amalfi Coast, or exploring the beautiful remains of Greek and Roman civilizations in Sicily.

Most importantly you will meet the people of Italy – the true heart of the country. We bring Italy to YOU!

We know you love Italy; come see it through our eyes.

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