On the road to Ferrara, in the gloomy northern fringes of Bologna, Pieve di Cento is the twin city of Cento, just over the River Reno. Pieve wears the nickname ‘Little Bologna’. Little it certainly is, and with its old brick buildings and porticoes there is a definite resemblance. Some of these are wooden-beamed; they survive from the 1300s, along with the three town gates, all that is left of Pieve’s walls.
Inside, the Collegiata di Santa Maria Maggiore was severely damaged by the 2012 earthquake, which brought its cupola crashing to the ground. When reconstruction is completed, its paintings by Guercino, Lavinia Fontana and a very glossy Assumption by Guido Reni should be restored to their places.
To the east, cross over the 12th-century Canale Navile that gave Bologna a shipping outlet to the Po, to Bentivoglio, where that famous family, rulers of Bologna, built the imposing Castello in 1475, now home to a medical institute. Outside the village, the Oasi La Rizza is a wetland that is home to a summer colony of storks. Also see nearby San Martino di Bentivoglio
Getting to Pieve di Cento: Take Bus No 97 from Bologna Bus Station; the journey takes about 50 minutes.
Image by PD Art, Collezione cartoline Albertomos