Green Oasis Amidst the Bricks
One of the most pleasant corners of Bologna's centre, shady, intimate Piazza Minghetti provides a welcome oasis among all the bricks and porticos. The piazza was laid out in the 1890s as a kind of urban renewal project, and there is some good architecture around it: the impressive, eclectic Palazzo delle Casse di Risparmio, designed by Giuseppe Mengoni, and the 1911 Main Post Office. The Piazza was closed to cars, re-landscaped and generally freshened up in 2012. It's home to a flower fair in mid-April.
The Piazza's name, and the statue in its centre honour Marco Minghetti, a Risorgimento figure and ally of Cavour who became one of the first prime ministers of united Italy, in 1863 and again in 1873. Minghetti ran an honest administration, as one would expect from a Bolognese, and he was the first (and perhaps only) prime minister to balance the budget.
To the mink-coat brigades, though, Piazza Minghetti means only one thing: shopping. On the western edge are the entrances to the Galleria Cavour. Here the old buildings conceal an austere modernist mall tucked behind the facades, built only in 1959. Its 30-some shops include many of the best-known high-end fashion and jewellery chains.