Bologna, Italy

Cathedral of St. Peter

The Bologna Theatre (Cattedrale di San Pietro) stands imposingly on Via dell’Indipendenza, the city’s main street. It is the seat of the cathedra of the Archbishop of Bologna.

A Romanesque church already existed here as early as 1000. In 1141, however, it was destroyed by a devastating fire, and the decision was made to rebuild. Starting at the end of the 1400s, the great painters of Ferrara worked here. Their work had a significant impact on Michelangelo, even though it would be lost during the renovation of late 1500s.

In fact, this renovation work wrought such profound changes that the vaults collapsed one hundred years later. Finally, in the middle of the 1700s the church was given a new façade.

Today the interior is baroque and has a majestic grandeur. Among the works of art you can admire are: the Annunciation by Ludovico Carracci in the presbytery, a Roman Crucifix in wood, and a group of terracotta figures depicting the dead Christ and Mary weeping. The original campanile has remained intact. However, everything else around it was rebuilt in the 13th century.

The old structure of the campanile is therefore still visible on the interior. Inside the bell tower is found "the granddaddy”: the largest bell rung in the Bolognese tradition, like those in San Petronio.

It weighs more than 3300 kilos! It is no small thing. A solemn concert with four bells generates such a strong sound wave that “the granddaddy” is often played with its mouth turned upwards. Only rarely are all four bells played at once, an undertaking which requires a team of over 23 bell ringers.