Bologna, Museo Civico Medievalefrom 3rd December 2005 to 28th March 2006opening times: Tuesday to Saturday from 9 am - 6.30 pm,Sundays and mid-week public holidays from 10 am - 6.30 pmclosed: Monday (except public holidays), 25th December, 1st January ticket prices: full price ticket 8.50; concessions 6 eurosinformation: Tel. 051/2193916
Dreams always ought to be shown respect. Especially when they are followed through with intense efforts to make them come true and when they attempt to change the course of history. Sometimes dreams die, stampeded by the harsh facts of reality, but their dignity is never tarnished. In fact, paradoxically, it is made even stronger by the bitter pill of defeat. The dream of Cardinal Bertrando del Poggetto, papal legate and nephew of Pope John XXII, was an ambitious one. Sent to Italy by his uncle to resolve the problems arising from the transfer of the Pontifical seat to the French city of Avignon and to resurrect the ancient prestige of the Roman curia, he assigned a critical role in the relaunch of Italian papal policy to the city of Bologna, commissioning magnificent public works aimed at creating a sort of "little Avignon" in Italy: hence the construction of the grand castle at Porta Galliera in the city, which was started in 1330 and intended to constitute a glorious symbol of papal greatness and to promote the return of the Pope to Italy. The dream was on the verge of becoming reality. The Pope "will see Bologna, and then noble Rome". Thus wrote Francesco Petrarca in 1333, disdainfully hostile as always to the "seat" of Avignon, depicted on more than one occasion as the new Babylon of the West, capital of vice, place of ill-fame and incarnation of Italy's political and moral decadence. Two years earlier, in 1331, the dream had been announced to the people of Bologna, during a meeting of the Council of Elders, from the balcony of the city halls. But sometimes dreams die at dawn on a day that was meant to be a happy one. In his struggle to render the city more magnificent and glorious than the "corrupt" Avignon, Bertrando did not stop at attracting some of the greatest artists to Bologna, but tried to rewrite the laws of the city, depriving the municipal institutions of their powers and, to all effects, establishing an authoritarian local government. The people of Bologna were intolerant to these changes; they would not entertain the idea of their city being under the direct rule of the Church, and they rebelled. To the cry "Death to the legate and all those who hail from Quercy" (from Quercy, Bertrando's native city), on 28th March 1334 they took the castle by storm, driving the Cardinal out and shattering his dream.Seven centuries later, the stone tablets section of the Medieval Civic Museum of Bologna, which once again conjures up the ambients of the "papal palace" erected in the city by Bertrando del Poggetto, opens it doors to the public with an exhibition that strives to help visitors rediscover the artistic and documentary legacy of that ambitious project. Through approximately forty works, the exhibition recreates the splendour of a period of Bolognese history (1327-1334) that has long since been forgotten, if not totally erased: the greatest artists of the age flocked to the city and helped to raise its status to that of a universally revered metropolis, but after the rebellion of the Church, the people of Bologna passed a radical "damnatio memoriae" on Bertrando and his government, erasing all trace of everything that had happened in those years.The exhibition offers visitors the chance to rediscover precious paintings, sculptures, goldsmithery and miniatures from a number of Italian and foreign museums and collections, here gathered together for the first time: among the most significant works of show, "Polyptych" and "Madonna di Ricorboli" by Giotto, the reconstruction of the marble polyptych by Giovanni di Balduccio, plus panels by Pseudo-Dalmasio, Pseudo-Jacopino and Vitale da Bologna.