The bridge of the blonde (girl, of course)

11 01 2009

Yesterday I altered and enlarged my running route along Bologna’s “Canale Navile”.  I have been posting before on the inner city canals resembling Venice, so here is another bit of info on Bologna history driven by my deep fascination with water.

As Bologna itself is not located on a river there was a need to build waterways for several purposes, including power for the silk mills (Via delle Moline!) that were the foundation of Bologna’s wealth and importance. Another important matter was transportation of goods in and out of the city.  For this purpose the Canale Navile was built in the 13th century and it was used until the first half of the 20th century, connecting Bologna with Ferrara and ultimately even with Venice by waterway. To make it navigable even upstream, a set of locks was constructed. The first one on my running route is “Chiusa del Battiferro”. (The bolognese however call the locks “sostegni”)

Chiusa del Battiferro

Sources hint it might have been constructed originally by Leonardo da Vinci… well who knows! It divides the waterway in two parallel streams, leaving a middle strip of land that can be used by runners.

So as I kept running downstream between the two canals I reached for the first time the spot where they reunite. And there is the bridge of the blonde!

Ponte della bionda

Ponte della bionda

It is a 16th century stone bridge of the official name “ponte nuovo” that has been renovated in 2004 by a private initiative. The sign next to it explained, that the bridge derived its name from a blonde girl living nearby that – let’s say “inspired” – the navigators passing this spot on their way in and out of Bologna.

Researching for this post I stumbled upon a huge amount of links with background info, all in Italian, find some of them below. If you are interested in local dialect, check the “Links” section of the page – it’s amazing!

Cultural association of the bridge

History and some technical info on navigating the Canale Navile

Article on canals in general

Page with pictures of Canale Navile and the Sostegni

The connection between the canals and the silk production