Category Archives: Bologna

The city, its architecture, history, food and culture.

Historic Shop Signs in Bologna

Most Italian towns boast a wonderful patrimony of historic shop signs and Bologna is no exception. Many of these are well preserved as they have glass covers. In many cases, the nature of the shop may have changed several times, but the original sign is preserved.

Diana Ristorante Italy sign Bologna
This Art Nouveau sign refers to an earlier establishment now occupied by the Ristorante Diana.

Antica  Aguzzeria Del Cavallo Bologna
This is one of the oldest ships in Bologna and in the 1700s offered a knife and blade sharpening service with horse drawn sharpening stones. It’s now a homeware and kitchen shop still specialising in knives.

Below, an ex butcher shop.

Bologna Shop Sign Italy

The following signs are for an ‘Albergo Diurnale’ or day hotel and offer baths, showers, use of a writing desk and shoe shining . This establishment was founded in 1911 by Cleopatro Cobianchi who went on to establish similar hotels across Italy. It was obviously a period of low inflation with prices etched into the sign.

albergo diurnale  bologna

Albergo Diurnale Cobianchi Bologna

paoletti bologna italy shop signAnd this one  has been selling cameras since 1959.
Bologna shop signs  Italy
This sign dates back to the days when salt and tobacco were state monopolies and only available from select stores. Tobacco and also matches can still only be purchased from a limited number ofregistered outlets.This one is closed for the August holidays but you can still buy cigarettes from the vending machine.

Pescheria Brunelli shop sign Bologna ItalyThis shop in Via Drapperie was selling fried fish back in 1924 and is still a fish shop.
Osteria Sole Bologna Italy sign
The Osteria del Sole is a ‘bring your own food’ wine shop which has been operating since the 1940s although there has been a tavern on this site since 1465.
The current owners , the Tamburini family, took over this food shop in 1932 though the establishment dates back to 1860.

Here’s a selection of other Bologna shop signs covering a wide range of activities such as hats, gold, hardware, shoes, bread, books barbers and hairdressers.

bologna street signs  
Bologna shop signs Italy

bologna shop signs

bologna shop signs

Bologna shop signs

bologna shop signs

bologna shop signs

Castaldini Bologna Italy

If you can’t find that odd piece of hardware here, you won’t find it anywhere. We found the exact handle to replace the broken one on our window a few years back.
bologna shop sign Italy

shop sign Bologna Italy
bologna shop signs

bologna shop signs Italy

bologna shop signs

For more on Bologna, please see my new blog, Bologna and Beyond


The Descent of the Madonna of San Luca

Overlooking the city of Bologna is the Sanctuary of the Madonna of San Luca, an important symbol of the city. The current baroque structure dates from 1723, although a church has existed in the site from at least the 12th century housing the icon of the Madonna and child.

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Tradition has it that the icon was painted by Saint Luke (San Luca in Italian). In 1443, prolonged spring rainfall threatened to destroy that year’s crops. The icon was carried down into the city and the rain ceased. Since that time, there has been a procession carrying the icon down into the city every year where it remains for a week before being carried back up again. There have only been two occasions in which the descent did not take place. The first was in 1849 when the city was occupied by the Austrians and the second in 1944 during World War 2.

A roofed arcade built in the 17th and 18th centuries covers the entire distance of almost 4km up the hill from the Saragozza Gate to the Sanctuary.


These days the procession begins  at the Saragozza Gate which was embellished and expanded during 19th century to make a grander entrance into the city for the icon.

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The icon proceeds to the Cathedral in a procession of religious groups and clergy. Rose petals are thrown down by spectators looking from windows above.

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The icon remains in the Cathedral for a week  and then returns to the sanctuary in another procession. This time, the procession is composed of many community groups plus whoever wishes to join in.

Here the icon leaves the cathedral.

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There is dismay on the faces of some of these clergymen as the icon is almost dropped after one of its numerous stops along the way.

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The crowd following the procession becomes quite large.

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One group was dressed in period costume. The girl is a bystander who wanted a photo taken with the group. The friend taking the photo apologised for taking so long to take the photo. The man in costume said ” take all the time you want, I could stand all day next to this pretty girl”.

See my new blog for more on Bologna Bologna and Beyond