September 26, 2015

With Brittany’s class schedule set up a little differently than it would be back home (she is basically in class from 9AM to 7PM Monday through Friday and on some days she gets a break in the middle), we decided that weekends would need to be packed full of adventure.  So today we decided to try and find a museum.  Since Brittany is officially a student now (meaning money has been paid), she gets in free to most of the museums in Bologna, but we specifically had our hearts set on going to the Museo Civico Medievale (City Medieval Museum) that is housed across the street from the Chiesa della Madonna di Galliera.

The foundation of this museum was literally built by incorporating the remains of both a palace and an ancient tower into the design…sections of which can be seen later in this blog.  While all of the information posted about each piece in the museum is in Italian, each room had a laminated card detailing some of its most important pieces in English.  It was very, very helpful.  The only thing Brittany and I struggled with was getting information about the exhibit pieces that weren’t on the helpful English page.  If the item was on the laminated card, then we knew the name, date, etc; however, if it was not, all we could find was an Italian name, inventory number, and a lot of other words that may have been descriptions.  (This blog has actually taken me quite some time to write since I have to translate all of the little placards for items that weren’t on the list.)  Most of the pieces are from the Medieval time period (5th to 15th centuries according to Wikipedia), but there are definitely some pieces that leak over into the Renaissance Period (14th to 17th centuries again according to Wikipedia).

We had a pretty great adventure just trying to find the museum without using a map, but because of the length of this blog, I’ll detail that in our photo journal section.

Enjoy the Museo Civico Medievale! (Larger versions of each of the images are available by clicking them.  A new window will open.)

The first room contained a collection of very odd pieces that were once a part of the Museo Cospiano owned by Marquis Ferdinando Cospi.  Without question, the first item on display was one of the most interesting in the entire museum, and it also became Brittany’s favorite.

Title: Unicorn Head

Date: between 1660-1670

Media: Ivory, carved and gilded wood

Roman Artifact

(The piece is actually made from the tusk of a narwal.  Truth be told, I honestly did not know these things actually existed.)


Title: Stilts

Date: 16th-17th century

Media: Leather and cork

Venetian Artifact


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Title: ?Knife holder?

Date: Mid-17th Century

Media: Carved bone over wooded structure

German Artifact

(The container depicts images of Apollo and Daphne as well as Neptune’s chariot.  The handles coming out of the top of the container are actually knife hilts.)


Title: Runic Calendar

Date: 1514

Media: Carved boxwood

French Artifact

(These tablets are each only slightly larger than a credit card and are carved on front and back.  Only six indicate calendar months.  The other two are devoted to religious figures.)


Title: Cup Cover

Date: 15th Century

Media: Polished enamel

French Artifact


Title: Tin plate with the scene of the Resurrection of Christ in recess and the figures of the twelve apostles on the brim.

Date: ?

Media: Tin


Title: Four knife handles worked with slotted pairs of deities

Date: ?

Media: Carved boxwood

(These handles are only about the size of chess pieces.)



(Left piece) Byzantine-style wooden tablet with the pietà (Pietà is a depiction of the Virgin Mary holding the dead body of Christ on her lap or in her arms)
(Right piece) Wooden cross carved with stories of the Passion of Christ .


(Left piece) 17th Century

(Right piece) ?

Media: (both) Wood

(Both of these pieces are smaller than a credit card.)


Title: Two rolls of Japanese painting. In each of them depict ten episodes, which make up a single story.

Date: Early 18th Century

Media: Paper

Japanese Artifacts

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Title: Gravestone of Shabatai Elchanan

Date: 1546

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Title: Ark of Bartolomeo of Saliceto (tomb of Bartolomeo of Saliceto – a law professor)

Date: 1412

Media: Marble, sandstone

Bolognese Artifact


Title: Sculptures from the Palazzo della Mercanzia

Date: 1382 to 1391

Bolognese Artifact

(Each statue was created by a different artist and represent Justice and the patron saints of Bologna.)

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Title: Tablet with Aaron and the children in priestly garments.

Date: 10th Century

(These piece is almost exactly the size of a credit card.)


Title: The Blessed Virgin

Date: end of 12th to beginning of 13th Century

Media: Mosaic

Venetian Artifact

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Title: Cross on a Column

Date: 1219

Media: Limestone

Bolognese Artifact

(Behind this cross you can see portions of the tower that once stood here.)

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Title: Base with four figures of atlases

Date: 13th Century

Media: Limestone

Bolognese Artifact

(Brittany found this statue to be particularly “creepy” because of the holes where eyes would be.)

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Title: Crosier (pastoral hook)

Date: 1250-1270

Media: Bone, polychrome and gold painting

Northern Italian Artifact

(This hook takes the form of a serpent emerging from the mouth of a griffin.)


Title: Boniface VIII

Date: 1301

Media: Hammered gold-plated copper, bronze with wooden core

Bolognese Artifact

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Title: Tombstone of Filippo of the Desideri

Artist: Arriguzzo Trevisano

Date: 1315

Media: Limestone

Bolognese Artifact


Title: Fragment of a Matrix

Date: 14th Century

Media: Limestone

Bolognese Artifact

(The first image shows The Last Supper. The second image shows a large angel.  And the third shows the entire face.  The opposite side {not shown} contains letters of the alphabet.)

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Title: Fragment of the Crucified

Date: 14th Century

Media: Marble

Bolognese Artifact


Title: Crucifixion

Artist: Maestro di Corrado Fogolini

Date: 14th Century

Media: Marble

Bolognese Artifact


Title: Urn of Corrado Fogolini

Date: 14th Century

Media: Limestone

Verona Artifact

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Title: Santo monaco

Date: 15th Century

Media: Stuccoed wood, polychrome and gilded

Siena Artifact

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Title: Madonna col Bambino

Artist: Jacopo della Quercia

Date: around 1410

Media: Terracotta polychrome

Bolognese Artifact

(I thought this piece was especially interesting because of the layers of work that could be seen.)

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Title: Tombstone of Bernardino Zambeccari

Artist: Andrea da Fiesole

Date: 1424

Media: Stone

Bolognese Artifact


Title: Tombstone of Geremia Angelelli

Date: 1417

Media: Marble

Bolognese Artifact


Title: Tombstone of Graziolo Accarisi

Date: 1434

Media: Red Marble

Bolognese Artifact


Title: Tombstone of Pietro d’ Ancarano

Date: 1416

Media: Stone

Bolognese Artifact


Title: Marsyas Chained

Artist: Andrea Briosco (Called Il Riccio {the hedgehog})

Date: 15th Century

Media: Bronze

Padue Artifact

(Il Riccio is “considered the greatest Renaissance master” in the field of bronze works according to the museum’s paperwork.  Most of the statues in this room are tiny.  This one is no larger than a chess piece.)


Title: Tap shaped monstrous bird

Date: 16th Century

Media: Bronze

Northern Italian Artifact


Title: Erma faunal

Date: 16th Century

Media: Bronze

Northern Italian Artifact


Title: The Acrobat

Date: 16th Century

Media: Bronze

Venetian Artifact

(According to what Brittany was reading, this guy is a candle holder, but, if that’s what it is, it is a really odd candle holder.)

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Title: Hercules drunk

Date: 18th Century

Media: Bronze

Italian Artifact

(This is one of the taller pieces in this section.  For the sake of his title, I’ll say he stands about as tall as a beer bottle.)


Title: Bust of a clown

Date: 16th Century

Media: Bronze

German? Artifact

(This statue was tiny.  It stood an inch…maybe an inch and a half tall.)

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Title: Baccante

Date: 16th Century

Media: Bronze

Florentine Artifact


Title: ?Nozzle for lock with Abundance?

Date: 16th Century

Media: Bronze

Fontainbleau? Artifact


Title: Bust of Gregorio XIII Boncompagni

Artist: Alessandro Menganti

Date: 1572-1585

Media: Bronze

Bolognese Artifact

(We are back to sizable statues again.  We both liked the detail of this piece.)

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Title: Mercury

Artist: Jean de Boulogne detto Giambologna (detto = called) (The same artist responsible for Fontana del Nettuno.

Date: 1564

Media: Bronze


Title: Bust of Gregorio XV Ludovisi

Artist: Gian Lorenzo Bernini

Date: 1621-1623

Media: Bronze

(Again, the detail of this piece is what amazed us.)

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Title: St. Michael the Archangel killing the devil

Artist: Alessandro Algardi

Date: Unknown – but the artist lived between 1595 and 1654

Media: Bronze

Bolognese Artifact

(This was my favorite piece in the museum.  It stand about 2.5 to 3 feet tall, and the detail is exquisite.  The artist is from Bologna.)

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Title: San Giovanni decollato

Date: 16th Century

Media: Marble

Northern Italian Artifact


Title: Half-lenghted figure of Christ in a niche   (A niche is a shallow recess to display a statue.)

Date: 16th Century

Media: Painted marble

Bolognese Artifact

(Enjoy this piece for a moment and then read on to have it ruined.)

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(I really thought this was a beautiful piece, but when we were looking at the photos after getting home, Brittany pointed out that it looks like he’s wearing Mickey Mouse ears.  I dare you to look at it again without thinking about the ears.  There, now the piece has been ruined forever…just like it was for me.)

This is not an actual piece on display, it’s just the ceiling of the museum.  As previously stated, this was once a palace, and I imaging it was beautiful in its time.


Title: Nettuno

Artist: Jean de Boulogne detto Giambologna (detto = called) (The same artist responsible for Fontana del Nettuno.

Date: 1564

Media: Bronze

(This was a preparatory statue for the Fontana del Nettuno which is located in Bologna’s city center.)

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Title: Venus

Artist: Bottega di Girolamo Campagna

Date: 16th Century

Media: Bronze

Venetian Artifact

(Another of the smaller statues.  She stands about as tall as the earlier seen Hercules statue.)


Title: Tombstone of Domenico Garganelli

Artist: Francesco del Cossa

Date: 1478

Media: Limestone, colored marble, and bronze

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Title: Rapier blessed by Lodovico Bentivoglio

Date: 1454

Media: Steel blade.  Hilt and scabbard – silver with enamel decorations

Roman Artifact

(This begins our journey into the weapons portion of the museum.)


Title: Shield depicting St. George and the dragon

Date: 15th Century

Media: Wood covered with parchment

Bolognese Artifact

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The weapons section of the museum was large and amazing, but often it was difficult to tell which placard was associated with a certain item.  So these next few images will not have detailed information, but will be separated by item or display case depending on how it was photographed.  Most date from the 16th or 17th Century.



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(Note the detailed knight on the hilt of this sword.  Also note the engraving on the blade…”Respice Finem.” {Look back at the end, or consider the end.})

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Title: Bologna model

(According to the placard on the wall, this was a model of Bologna representing the city at the end of the third century.  Also according to the placard, Bologna was one of the five largest cities in Europe at the time.)

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(While there were some amazing weapons in this room, the detail work on this gun was astonishing.)

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(And now we move away from weapons again…)

Title: Pair of reliefs depicting ‘Judith and Holofernes’ and ‘Rebecca and Eleazar’

Date: 17th Century

Media: Ivory

(These reliefs were about as tall as a standard sized book.  Note the decapitation depicted on the second image.)

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(These final few images are of the center square of the museum {you basically travel through three sides of the square with the entrance being the fourth side.}  The tall brown structures are different angles of the lower portions of what was once a tower.)

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We had a great time walking though history.  Hopefully you enjoyed walking with us!


Italian word of the day: stanco – tired (because, as Brittany and I were walking around Bologna, this was one of the first words I was able to read on a sign based on context clues – Stanco di essere sanco? {Tired of being tired?})


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