San Michele in Bosco

san michele in bosco a BolognaThe monastery of San Michele in Bosco is a former Olivetan convent in the city of Bologna, located on a hill near the historic center.

The complex consists of the church of San Michele in Bosco and the adjacent convent, purchased at the end of the nineteenth century by the surgeon Francesco Rizzoli and given to the Province of Bologna to build a center specialized in orthopedics, the current Rizzoli Orthopedic Institute.

The Church

Already the site of medieval monastic structures (around the 4th century), the complex saw the establishment of the Olivetan monks in 1364, at the behest of Pope Urban V. The latter, after the destruction of the church in 1430, rebuilt it in successive phases, essentially ending in 1523. The Renaissance façade is the work of the Ferrara architect Biagio Rossetti and of the school, the marble portal, instead, of Peruzzi. Inside we have a structure characterized by a single nave, with four side chapels and a presbytery closed by barriers.

Convent and octagonal cloister

The convent was later finished at the church. In 1539 Giorgio Vasari painted three tables for the refectory (one of which was dispersed and the other two transferred to the Pinacoteca Nazionale of Bologna, today only one copy remains on site), while in 1567 a side arm of the dormitory was completed. Later the project passed almost exclusively into the hands of Pietro Fiorini, who in 1588 completed the staircase, in 1590 the cloister of the Pino (later decorated by Cesare Buglione) and in 1592 the guesthouse.

One of the most peculiar features of the complex is the octagonal cloister, a unicum in the Bolognese monastic landscape, always designed by Fiorini between 1602 and 1603 and frescoed by Ludovico Carracci and some of his pupils, including Alessandro Albini (although the frescoes today are partly lost).

Telescope effect

The monumental corridor of the architectural complex of San Michele in Bosco, together with the famous Torre degli Asinelli, give rise to a famous perceptive illusion known as the "canocchiale effect" ("paradox view" in the international scientific nomenclature).

The illusion consists in the paradoxical perceptual enlargement of the tower that occurs when the observer moves away from it and backs out of the corridor. Specularly, the tower instead appears smaller when the observer approaches her along the corridor.

This ancient illusion has recently been rediscovered and scientifically studied by Marco Costa and Leonardo Bonetti of the University of Bologna.

Panoramic viewpoint

holiday in Bologna, b&b
In 2010 the restoration of the underlying park of San Michele in Bosco, restored to the late nineteenth-century form, freed the great lookout in front of the church, allowing the view of the city once again, first hindered by the tree tops.

PHONE: 051 6366705

ADDRESS: via Codivilla, Bologna

WEBSITE: www.sanmicheleinbosco.org

Map from B&B to San Michele in Bosco