Illusionist painters, visionary astronomers. It is the mystery hidden in the beating heart of Galleria Cavour, one of the few examples of modern architecture in Bologna. However, the open portico overlooking Via Farini, built after the postwar bombings by Giorgio Pizzigini and Luigi Vignali, hides the most ancient and prestigious face of the city, symbol of Arts and Science. Following the Ariadne’s thread of history, the Building (Palazzo) where the Galleria was born is the guardian of an amazing treasure. In fact, through the sumptuous corridors and the Baroque interiors, we get to a real undisclosed gem: the “Galleria della Meridiana”, symbol of the main floor of Palazzo Sassoli dè Bianchi, but also secluded beauty of the Galleria Cavour.
As a matter of fact, it is also possible to access Sala della Meridiana from one of the wonderful boutiques in the Galleria. A lot of these boutiques, moreover, put together the famous collections of the major and most renowned fashion brands and proper artistic scenic design. This is why, Galleria Cavour has boutiques that can be considered as absolutely unique in the whole world.
Crossing the modern but enchanted threshold of one of these amazing stores and looking up to the ceilings is already an incredible experience: fresco; floral, allegorical and grotesque paintings; sparkling artworks from the Baroque period, following the works of Quadrature painters, who could achieve incredible optical illusions through perspectives and pictorial artifices. Flat ceilings thus become vaults and sharp edges transform into arches. These were the magic of Baroque, the era when great artists in Bologna gave life to one of the most interesting Quadrature art movement in the international art world.
But the real surprise, like in all magic, arrives at the end. In fact, after the visit to the amazing and luxurious boutiques, after the appreciation of their artistic beauty, the Gallery saves the best for last; a real hidden treasure. To get there, you need to follow the path through the MiuMiu boutique, and its wonderful painted rooms framing - in a unique way – the collections of this historical Italian fashion brand. There is an ancient door there keeping a priceless gem. Behind that door, in fact, there is the history of Bologna: a long gallery designed by Domenico Santi, called “il Mengazzino” and belonging to the Quadrature movement, full of fresco paintings; allegorical figures, feminine characters representing the virtues and the Muses, like Urania, protecting Astronomy, a scientific discipline which the city of Bologna was really good at.
Excellence and art. Intelligence and pleasure. Mind and feelings satisfaction. From the painted vaults, the eye drifts to the floor following a long line. It is the Meridian wanted by Giovanni Antonio Vasè, senator and owner of the Palazzo and also professor of Astronomy in Bologna.
The Meridian was created by Germiniano Montanari in 1674, and it is nearly as long as the meridian of San Petronio, constructed by Giovanni Domenico Cassini, thus the Meridian of Palazzo Sassoli dè Bianchi and Galleria Cavour is a unique example allowing much more important astronomic studies than the ones allowed by San Petronio. Galleria Cavour is also the symbol of Bologna as the city of Arts and Sciences, erudite and visionary at the same time, holder of all the shades of Beauty. And beauty is the central theme, beauty having neither age nor time. Shopping at Galleria Cavour means personally tasting this incredible beauty: luxurious and avant-garde boutiques reveal the noble art of the past. Thus, buying elite items means not only simply shopping but it is an unforgettable experience in a prestigious and exclusive museum.
In Bologna there is the famous “promenade”, a magic walk under the portico del Pavaglione. Then there is the “shopping time” , an unforgettable moment to experience since the 1950’s in the Galleria. It sounds like a privilege; having the one and only indoor fashion street in the world. And this wonder is in the historical city centre, near the Pavaglione, the ancient portico running along the basilica of San Petronio and taking straight to the Archiginnasio, where it is possible and compulsory to admire the incredible Sala Anatomica.
Everything there was destroyed under the bombs of the Second World War. The buildings, for example Palazzo Vassé Pietramellara, built during the Baroque period and then owned by the Sassoli De Bianchi family was seriously damaged by the bombings but the owners, like many inhabitants of this fierce town, worked hard to rebuild what the fury of the war had sadly destroyed. Galleria Cavour was born like this, from the spirit of resurrection and the hope in the future that the town of Bologna showed the whole world. Annexed to Palazzo Sassoli and developed from there – with the adjacent Palazzo Pizzighini Benelli – until the Pavaglione, the Galleria was designed following a common intuition: building a modern space with both a commercial and a social vocation in order to become and stay forever the pride and joy of the Pavaglione and the symbol of the city centre shopping time.
Works begin just after the end of the Second World War under the direction of the engineers Giorgio Pizzighini and Renato Bernardi; and the architects Luigi Vignali and Guglielmo Ulrich. The owners immediately choose and attentively select all the renters of the shops. This is how the Galleria starts hosting Omega, Ferragamo, le Sorelle Fontana. It is the place for the first shop windows of some historical brands called “Le Case di…” – The House of: Sport, Gloves, Tights.
The Galleria rapidly becomes the symbol of élite and high quality products. The old shop window belongs today to wonderful boutiques designed by the best international architects and interior designers.
Nonetheless, what still makes the fortune and the magic of the Galleria after so many years, is the incredibly high concentration of famous brands in a delimited indoor area of the town centre.
There is no other fashion Street in the world with the same concentration of High Brands of Palazzo Cavour. There are nearly thirty “single brand” boutiques, representing all the most famous international brands in about two hundred metres.
A real catwalk for luxury brands, a worldwide longed for experience capable of offering relax and shopping moments in a rich and captivating atmosphere.
There is music everywhere, there is the smell of fresh flowers, there are places to stop and absorb the pervasive beauty all around.
The palace of queens and princesses, kings and princes; the place where to wake all the desires up, far from the noises of the city and at nevertheless fully immersed in the town centre. Millions of visitors in over fifty years of history have walked this Luxury Promenade, unique example in the world passing through the city centre, precursor of the contemporary Mall.
And it doesn’t sound risky to make this comparison: Galleria Cavour is the first mall ever in the heart of the medieval quadrilateral. Boutiques and their baroque ceilings together with avant-garde architectural projects. How to find a great amount of Beauty in such a restricted area….how can this not be called a privilege?