ride on the San Luca Express in Bologna

ride on the San Luca Express in Bologna

[ Oct.2019 ] In Bologna in Italy where we went to eat delicious Tagliatelle alla Bolognese, when we came into the main square, Piazza Maggiore, we noticed the Trenino (tourist bus in the shape of a small train) waiting for customers.

Italy-Bologna-Piazza Maggiore-Trenino-San Luca Express
the Trenino called San Luca Express

We thought that it could be nice to see the town on this Trenino, so decided to have a ride.

It cost €10 (£8.50, $11).

After sitting on the seat, we found that it was the Trenino called ‘San Luca Express’ which was going up to Guardia Hill away from the centre of Bologna to Basilica di San Luca.

It was fortunate for us because we had not been there before.

There was the audio guide of many languages.

Italy-Bologna-portico-the longest
the longest portico in the world

One of the points of the guide was about the portico which you see many in Bologna.

The policymakers in this town in the 13th century required every building to have the portico and that is why there are so many porticoes in Bologna.

And the height of the porticoes had to be as high as that men on the horse would not hit their head, which means that in those days the horses were passing there, though now they are pavements where only people can walk.

Apparently people can go all the way up to Basilica di San Luca through the portico and this one is as long as about 3800 metres which means it is  the longest portico in the world.

Some parts are fairly steep slopes.

And there are 666 arches in this portico.

When we arrived on top of Guardia Hill, our Trenino went to the spot where we could see the Basilica very well and then towards it and all the passengers got off.

Italy-Bologna-Basilica di San Luca-list of visitors
the list of number of visitors by country

Apparently, from the balcony of the church you can look out over the whole Bologna, but to get there you have to pay €5.

And they accepted only cash, which was a shame because we did not have enough cash at that point.

By the way, in the corridor, there was a list of numbers of people who went up to the balcony by country from April 2017 to June 2019.

According to that, the most people who visited there were the local Italians, the second was British and the third was German.

Italy-Bologna-Basilica di San Luca-altar
the altar including the icon

Japanese was the 31st with 234 people.

There were quite a few countries that only one person visited, including Mongolia, Somalia and Namibia.

I could see from this list that people from all over the world have visited Basilica di San Luca.

Now we went into the church.

The main thing here is the icon called ‘The Madonna of San Luca’ which is enshrined at the altar.

A pious pilgrim brought this icon from Byzantium (currently Istanbul in Turkey) after he heard Virgin Mary’s voice in Hagia Sophia, ordering him to take the icon here.

The Virgin Mary and the baby Christ are depicted in this icon and it is supposed to have been painted either in the 12th century or the early 13th century.

But underneath that, apparently there is another picture and that was certainly painted before 1000 AD.

Italy-Bologna-Basilica di San Luca-view
the view from the church

And people believe that Luke the Evangelist himself painted it.

What we could see was only the faces of Virgin and Christ and other parts were hidden under silver.

This icon is carried down to the cathedral in the town in May every year.

It just happened that the Mass was just about to start, so we could not stay long inside the church unfortunately.

The church itself has the history since the late 12th century, but current building was built in the early 18th century.

The warm light was on it which was lovely and from there we could see the nice view.