San Francesco in Bologna

November 19, 2013 / Local Interest
Bologna, Emilia-Romagna

The Basilica, built following a visit by St. Francis of Assisi in 1222, is enormous yet refreshingly simple. Built in the French Gothic style it nevertheless features a Romanesque façade.

sanfran facade

Unlike many such ancient churches, its insides were not completely revamped in the Baroque period.

BO SF interior

Little lions are scattered along the fence surrounding San Francesco, to keep watch over visitors.

sanfran lion

Of particular interest are two free standing tombs on its grounds: these represent a truly unique construction as examples of such mausoleums have almost never been found in Italy.

sanfran tomblet

Built in the 13th century, the one pictured here houses a “glossatore” – a 12th century scholar of ancient legal texts. The glossatori compiled explanations of Latin and Greek terms… something like a modern-day glossary.

After a little tour – the marble altar inside dates from the late 1300s and the stained glass windows are spectacular – step across the street for a delight to the palate. La Cremeria San Francesco boasts all organic ingredients and the gelato flavors they have come up with are most definitely worth a try (squash and lotus fruit, ricotta and fig…).

If you have room (Bolognese meals are likely to leave you stuffed) try their specialty: the waffle, with or without a scoop on top!

sanfran waffle

Gyneth Sick

by Gyneth Sick

Gyneth has lived in Rome longer than anywhere else in the world, and still doesn’t want to leave. By day she edits the English version of ASPENIA, Aspen Institute Italia’s highly regarded journal on international affairs, and by night she plays the blues! Check out her two bands The Bucket Band and BRASS OFF!!

5 Responses to “San Francesco in Bologna”

  1. Noel C. Bon Tempo

    In addition to San Francesco one could visit the church of San Domenico, which has, if I remember correctly two mausoleums, and in addition on the altar where Saint Domenic is buried two statues done by Michelangelo, and a Filippino Lippi adjacent to the main altar.

  2. Bob Blesse

    Thanks so much! My wife and I are looking forward to getting back to Bologna.

  3. Joan Schmelzle

    Thanks. I enjoyed the post. While I had been to Bologna several times before, last December was the first time I wandered San Francisco.

  4. Surprisingly enough, the vast majority of tourists see Bologna only from the window of a high speed train, moving from Venice to Florence and vice versa!
    Besides San Francesco, Bologna hides real jewels, such as Santo Stefano’s seven churches, the already mentioned San Domenico and its Arch and, of course, San Petronio, the 5th biggest church in the world!
    Thanks for letting readers aware of such hidden jems.


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