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San Colombano/Collezione Tagliavini

Baroque Frescoes and Harpsichords

Crypt of San Colombano

One of the oldest church complexes in Bologna, San Colombano was founded in c. 610 by Bishop Pietro of Bologna, a student of the scholarly Irish missionary monk Colombanus, around the same time that Columbanus founded the monastery and centre of learning at Bobbio in Emilia — one of the brightest lights in the Italian Dark Ages.

That church was built over a late Roman building, and in 1591 the Baroque Oratorio di Santa Maria di Colombano was built over that to house the church's treasures, especially the Madonna dell’Orazione by Lippo di Dalmasio. Upstairs, however is one of Bologna’s marvels: frescoes painted under the direction of Ludovico Carracci, known as 'La Gloriosa Gara' of scenes of the Passion and Resurrection of Christ by some of the leading painters of the day: Guercino, Albani, Reni, Domenichino, Massari and Brizio.

In a thorough restoration financed by the Cassa di Risparmio Foundation, the medieval crypt and fragments of a 13th-century fresco of the Crucifixion by Giunta Pisano were uncovered, and the church was reopened in 2010, filled with beautiful musical instruments from the 16th-19th centuries, many finely painted and all in working order, donated to the Foundation by the Bolognese musicologist, Luigi Ferdinando Tagliavini. From October to June, the instruments are used in a series of concerts, Musica in San Colombano.

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Via Parigi 5

Hours Tues-Sun 11am-7pm

Adm €7, €5 ages 19-26 and over 70; €4 ages 6-18; under 6 free

+39 051 19936366


Text © Dana Facaros and Michael Pauls

Images by: Giornale di archittura