Why is Bologna red? Or ranter why did Bologna develop a longstanding love affair with flaming orange and red colours that cover house walls and roof tops?
While more or less authorized street art takes over house exteriors in Rome and other big cities, residents and visitors in small town Dozza in Emilia-Romagna have long welcomed murals of a more permanent nature.
The name Dozza supposedly derives from ‘doccia’ – the Italian word for shower – because people in the Middle Ages would go here to bath, when most other places in the area suffered from drought and water shortages. An aqueduct led water from Monte del Re to a cistern in the hills a few kilometres to the south west of Imola, and when Dozza became a free commune in 1150 the town’s coat of arms was designed with a lion-eagle griffon drinking water.
Instead of bathing water, today’s visitors are given showers of fantastic food and interesting works of art. For a population of 6 000 people Dozza has a lot of really nice restaurants and even more wall paintings. Once every other year the town invites acknowledged contemporary artists along for a weekend known as the ‘Biennale del Muro Dipinto’, where new walls are decorated. The XXII festival was held in September 2009, and the initiative has transformed Dozza into an open air gallery.
The transformation of the historic village into a Città d’Arte started 50 years ago, when Dozza’s Pro Loco Association introduced the concept of Muro Dipinto, and invited the first team of artists over for a weekend. It was in June 1960, and unfortunately the event drowned in rain. Water poured down incessantly, so that locals and the few visitors who had come to witness the work in progress had to take turns holding umbrellas over the artists and their work. The weather helped to make the event unforgettable, and ever since then new artists have been asked to contribute to the Muro Dipinto at regular intervals of two years. So far, well-established Italian names such as Roberto Matta, Bruno Saetii Licata, Aligi Sassu, Remo Brindisi, Norma Mascellani, Concetto Pozzati and Alberto Sughi have all left their mark on Dozza. By now paintings cover most of the wall space available in the village.
The only undecorated building seems to be the medieval castle, which local nobility erected in the 14th century. Rocca Sforzesca is amazingly well preserved and serves as a museum where you can see utensils used in a medieval kitchen along with a well-equipped armoury and prison cells. The castle also houses a permanent exhibition of art complementing the works that can be seen in the surrounding streets.
Any visit to Dozza culminates at a restaurant serving local specialities. Some of them so refined and delicate that they almost qualify as small works of art.
A couple of weeks each spring the Po Plain is covered with thousands of fruit trees in bloom. And it looks ever so pretty in Pink.
Sasso Marconi: Where radio was invented. A suburb to Bologna in Italy has been renamed after Guglielmo Marconi who invented the radio.
Now Sasso Marconi is not a place you would normally choose to visit, unless you want to experience Bologna in high summer without having to survive the humid heat that settles over this part of the Po Valley, especially in the evenings. Sasso Marconi is situated on the Setta river right where the Apennines rise with promises of a cooling breeze, but the town is not much more than a sleepy suburb in scenic surroundings, 15 minutes’ drive from Bologna.
The most interesting aspect about Sasso Marconi is in fact that the city has not always been known by that name. Until 80 years ago, the municipality was called Praduro e Sasso, but in 1935 it changed its name to Bolognese Sasso and in 1938 it became Sasso Marconi after Nobel Prize winner Guglielmo Marconi, who was born and lived most of his life in Villa Griffon in this town. Small European cities rarely contribute to this kind of personality cult, but the date is probably significant as is the fact the Guglielmo Marconi was a close friend of Benito Mussolini.
When Marconi died, 63 years old, in 1937 he had a state funeral, and all radio stations throughout the world observed two minutes’ silence. Marconi is – at least according to the Italians – the person who invented the radio, and this might explain the honour.
Forty-three years earlier in 1894 Guglielmo Marconi began to experiment with wireless telegraphs, and he managed to send and pick up a signal over a distance of 1.5 kilometers from Villa Griffon. In 1896 he traveled to England to obtain funding for his invention, and he soon became famous on both sides of the Atlantic. He established Marconi International Marine Communication Company, which made it possible to maintain radio contact with ships. And in 1909 he received the Nobel Prize in physics.
Today, radio nerds can study the Marconi collection on the award-winning Internet site “Marconi Calling” or visit Museo Marconi, where the inventor’s work tools, equipment and experimental setups are exhibited. which also houses the Marconi’s mausoleum. As a tribute to a great and not quite forgotten Italian.
Other towns that have been renamed apart from Sasso Marconi where radio was invented