The Rotonda della Madonna on Monte di Villa Aldini

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In the hilly area around Bologna, atop the hill of San Benedetto, close to the hill “dell’Osservanza,” is the early-19th-century Neoclassical villa commissioned by Antonio Aldini, and today dedicated to the Napoleonic Ministry. The construction of the villa was the partial result of the dismantling of the preexisting buildings from the religious complex of the Madonna del Monte. In 1938, Guido Zucchini, who had studied the complex for years, researching the structures preceding the 19th-century upheaval, took apart the wall of the former circular dining room, exposing niches with extraordinary Byzantine frescoes. Following the restorations to the Romanesque building, in 1939, Zucchini published a detailed monograph of the complex’s history and artistic events. According to Zucchini, evidence of the Rotonda’s foundation can be found in a chronicle of 1465, written by Graziolo Accarisi, linking it with the legend of Picciola Galluzzi. Picciola had gone into a hermetic life on the hill of San Benedetto, when a dove drew a large circle with large pieces of wood. Picciola, having rushed to the site, after having consulted with the religious institutions of the city, decided to build a circular building dedicated to the Virgin. Following this tradition, the building is dated to 1116, similar to other architectural works in these hills in itiated by pious Bolognese women.

Regardless of legend, the architectural culture of the Rotonda is definitely that of the 12th century, linked to other regional buildings, such as the Rotonda di Sacerno at Santa Maria di Calamosco. In 1873, the studies of Nikolajevic and Bergonzoni highlighted its importance and its specific role in the panorama of regional Romanesque architecture. It was built entirely of brick, with a diameter of 10 meters. The present building is the result of heavy restoration, begun by Zucchini in the 1930s. Along with the architecture, the splendid Romanesque frescoes are among the building’s most interesting features.


Additional Info

  • Address: via dell'Osservanza 35/a, Bologna
  • Province:
  • Phone: +39 0512193930
  • Opening Days and Time: apertura: marzo-luglio e settembre-ottobre
    sabato e domenica ore 10-14
  • Guided Tour: Per visite guidate contattare l'associazione Rabisch (Tel: +39 338 6357868 - Si offrono visite per gruppi di studenti, adulti e disabili. Guide disponibili in lingue straniere.
  • Recommended Restaurants:
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Last modified on Monday, 12 November 2012 16:06