San Luca Porticos – The Mother Of All Porticos in Bologna
Bologna should be known as the city of porticos. During our week in Bologna we walked miles and miles of porticos but no visit would be complete without walking the 666 porticos to San Luca high on the hill above Bologna.
Most youngsters that blog about this site suggest that the experience is not complete without a walk up and down but I was not so easily shamed. The morning had dawned grey and overcast and while I might have said the rain caused me to wimp out, I will admit that I never intended to walk up and down.
We took the city bus to Piazza Malpighi so that we could catch the little red train San Luca Express up to the top.
Rain started as we pulled out but by the time we got to the top it had stopped. Let off at the upper parking lot, we walked up the stairs to the church. On our ride up we had learned about the history of the church and the building of the long stretch of porticos to cover the stream of faithful visiting the Madonna and the parade of the icon up the hill. The church had been re-built several times with the recent incarnation designed by Carlo Francesco Dotti in 1723.
The church was quiet as we wandered around and took the stairway up to stand before the Madonna. Not being religious we just stood back for a moment of silence as others said their prayers.
The view of Bologna and the countryside from 300 meters (984ft) up was impressive, even with clouds in the sky. We could not quite make out our hotel even though we could see San Luca clearly from our hotel window!
After wandering around the summit for a bit we could no longer avoid the trip down. Starting at portico 666 we began the walk down (3.8km or about 6,800 steps on my pedometer).
The top 350 San Luca porticos were quite steep, mixed with stairs and ramps but they flattened out at about Mellancello. This is the point where the #20 bus could drop you off if you wanted to skip part of the walk up or if you were ready to call uncle you could catch the bus here to go home.
We stopped for a short mid-descent treat at Gelateria Melancello, sitting with the old guys on their plastic chairs outside. At this point we could have grabbed the Number 2 bus but we were going to see it through for the full walk down.
As you walked along the San Luca porticos, several of the arches held statues, remnants of small chapels or paintings.
We plodded along steadily while we watched mostly younger folks walk or even jog up (in one case, at least twice!). We were entertained by a basketball player doing his exercises along the route, who was quite amused by the pics I managed to grab of his routine.
By the time we reached portico #1 at Porto Saragozza, our legs were calling for a break after walking down the San Luca porticos.
Walking off some of the lactic acid build up, we wandered back as far as Piazza Malpighi before hopping the city bus to our hotel. The rain started again as we approached home, a signal that maybe we were done for this day. It would be a Bologna picnic night in!
Did you walk up and down San Luca porticos? Wasn’t the view of Bologna from on high worth the trip?