Arcades of Bologna

Problem or possibility?
Irene Schiff

The porticoes of Bologna are candidates to become part of UNESCO's World Heritage List because it is the only city in the world with this special architecture for a development of over 50 km of which almost 40 only in the historic centre. Born for a need to widen the homes on public land, they then became both the venues for craft shops and extensions and "living rooms" for simple people as well as nobility. Conviviality is a psychological need that has always been present in man and the arcades induce this sensation, in particular those of Bologna precisely because of their typical architecture.


View of the arcades

First made of wood, which, psychologically recalls nature and positive emotions, then built with red materials, they give us a sense of warmth and their height provides a sense of freedom and spiritual elevation. In fact, that typical colour was only used in Bologna (Bologna the red) and, only in Bologna, there was a law enforcing particular measurements, even in height, to allow the passage of a man on horseback. We could therefore say that Bologna's arcades embrace but do not suffocate. To embrace literally means wrapping with arms. Unconsciously, the embrace brings us back to the first sensations felt by a newborn at the touch of his mother or the first person he came into contact with. Even on a metaphorical level, we can embrace a project or an idea which we enthusiastically share, feeling close to the other. Today, though, proximity and social contacts are changing there is a strong increase in virtual contacts instead of actual ones. The reasons for that are plenty and, if, on the one hand, this allows for greater knowledge and openness to the world, on the other they can create a sense of emptiness in a person, sometimes even a sense of insecurity. Safety is an essential need for psychological and physical well-being, which is particularly important today. Here is another value of the portico: being able to walk without having to pay attention to cars is necessary when standing on the sidewalks. Not everyone experiences embraces, warmth and security in the same way. What is your experience?


The arcades



  1. What do you associate with the word "integral"
    a) flour
    b) mathematics
    c) completeness
  2. Your favourite team often loses
    a) patience!
    b) cheers for another team
    c) greater cheers for the favourite team
  3. You most often say
    a) I want
    b) I can
    c) I must
  4. People say your strongest attribute is
    a) friendliness
    b) loyalty
    c) craftiness
  5. To misbehave is
    a) useful
    b) wrong
    c) exciting
  6. Think of a precious good: you see
    a) a material good
    b) peace in the world
    c) serenity for your family
  7. To the word “volume”  you associate
    a) a book
    b) the surface of a solid
    c) the sound of the TV
  8. You would volunteer for some charity
    a) you're already doing it
    b) if only you had the time
    c) only… if you were getting paid
  9. You have to meet new people, you are
    a) curious
    b) nervous
    c) irritated
  10. What's hot that you like best
    a) the latest technology
    b) solar panels
    c) the fireplace
  11. Getting engaged means
    a) to hope for the future
    b) to lose our freedom
    c) to build something together
  12. About you, you tell your colleagues
    a) everything
    b) only the more important things
    c) as little as possible
  13. To which continent will you travel next
    a) America
    b) Africa
    c) Europe
  14. What do you associate with the word “level”
    a) coolness
    b) floor
    c) flat
  15. A loved one has done you wrong, you
    a) have already forgiven them
    b) will never fogive them
    c) will maybe forgive them someday

People warmly shaking hands


Question A B C

  1. 3 1 2
  2. 2 1 3
  3. 2 3 2
  4. 3 2 1
  5. 1 3 2
  6. 1 3 2
  7. 2 1 3
  8. 3 2 1
  9. 3 2 1
  10. 1 2 3
  11. 2 1 3
  12. 3 2 1
  13. 1 2 3
  14. 2 3 1
  15. 3 1 2



You like being with friends, sharing actions, ideas and emotions. You love traditions and a healthy dose of romance. Walking under the arcades means that to you. That's good, but every now and then, being alone with your own thoughts can be nicer than you think.


You are an open and accessible person. You like to work with others alternating between phases filled with energy and moments of solitude because they allow you to concentrate better and face life with more confidence. Porticoes and homes with friends are your best places.


You love and look for change, transformation. You feel more comfortable surrounded by modern architecture than by the classic elements of porticoes. As far as personal relationships are concerned, you like to keep a certain distance because you care a lot about your privacy. Are you sure, though, that behind this there is not even a bit of shyness or maybe a strong feeling of defensiveness?

Young people hugging each other

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