Iconic towers, shady porticoed building, art galleries, incredible street furniture and statuary, restaurants, just when you thought Bologna could not give anymore, here is yet another unique secret. Underneath the city lies a hidden network of canals. Bologna has a 60 km network of covered canals. As early as the twelfth century the city provided itself with a hydraulic system consisting of locks, canals, underground pipes that distributed the water which was mainly used as an energy source for trades.
Since mediaeval times water meant wealth, as it was needed to power it`s mills and to develop a thriving weaving and craft industry, it`s tanning business and it`s paper production. Water was needed to run furnaces and of course, not forgetting essential fluvial navigation from the City to the Adriatic Sea. At one time Bologna could be said to look like Amsterdam, with it`s network of canals, streams and running waters, which as we have seen have now been diverted underground making it difficult for the tourist to detect the strong ties that Bologna has with it`s water`s. The Fontana de Neptuno now makes sense, does it not? It is now one of the City symbols, Neptune The God of Water. Today, only the street names indicate the waters running perpetually below, and some scenic spot like the little window in Via Piella, featuring a view on the Moline Canal, a true memory of a bygone Bologna
- the Canale Navile, created for the purpose of connecting the city to the river Po through the Porto Navile;
- the Canale di Reno, supplying water for the purpose of supplying other canals;
- the Canale di Savena, which allowed the moat of the Walls to be filled with water and to operate the grain mills;
- the Canale delle Moline, created to operate as many as 15 mills;
- the Canale Cavaticcio, originally created to operate the mills, and then used as a refuge during the Second World War.
Visiting underground Bologna
Should you wish to discover the Bologna underground, you can contact the
Associazione Amici delle Vie D'Acqua.
The association organises guided visits to the underground canals
Fees vary according to the kind of visit you wish to make.
We suggest you'll visit the section " guided visits" on their web site
COST: Visit website for details
PHONE: 051 6232255