The Waterways of Bologna
by Paola Emilia Rubbi
A journey in the city history.
Ponte della CaritÓ, Ponte della Badýa, Ponte della Sega,
Ponte del Fondego, Ponte dei Preti: in Bologna, there were more or less
fifty bridges. This means that it was necessary to step over streams of
water. Of course. Because Felsina (then Bonomia, then Bologna) was founded
and grew near the Aposa Creek to be able to take advantage of the
necessary water resources for the community. It is formed by the two main
waterways of the area, the Reno River and the Savena River. Two dams were
built around year 1000 and two canals from which other canals were
branched, on the surface, other canals, small ones, outflows and,
underground, a dense network of conduits and tunnels.
|The Aposa came from the gate
of the walls at S. Mamolo and then crossed the Mezzo market supplying
water to small and large butchers' shops to wash the meat after slaughter
and to fisheries. And still today, along the river bed to the river's
tomb, we can admire the ancient Roman bridge, past the Mezzo market, which
overpassed, since those days, the creek.
For centuries (until the 700), the water has moved hundreds of manufacturing activities that were carried out basements and ground floors of houses which, in the back, overlooked the canals and with shops on the porticoed street. Source of energy and means of communication, water, therefore, has characterized, since the twelfth century, the urban environment and supported the economy of Bologna. Little by little was covered and hidden what was the hydraulic "treasure" of the city. Today it is reappearing, discreet and irregular, enough though to give an idea of the atmosphere and customs now gone: through the small windows on Via Piella (where we can see the silent flow of the water and houses as though it was behind the scenes, lost in time), in recent decades there has been restoration work done on the fašades of the Reno Canal in Via Piella and in Via Malcontenti;
of the Gallotti brickyard, the Salara, the old
harbour area; the revitalization of the former mill Grada, the improvement
of the underground canalization of the Aposa with the rediscovery of the