From the leaning towers, head up Via Santo Stefano to see four churches linked together. A church has stood on this site since the 5th century, converted from a Temple of Isis. Charlemagne stopped here to worship on his way to France in the 8th century.
The first church you enter is the 11th-century Church of the Crucifix (Chiesa di Crocifisso), relatively simple with only one nave and a crypt. To the left is the entrance to Santo Sepolcro, a polygonal temple dating principally from the 12th century. Under the altar is the tomb of San Petronio (St. Petronius), modeled after the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem and adorned with bas-reliefs. Continuing left, you enter the churches of Santi Vitale e Agricola. The present building, graced with three apses, also dates from the 11th century. To reenter Santo Sepolcro, take the back entrance, this time into the Courtyard of Pilate (Piazza di Pilatus), onto which several more chapels open. Legend has it that the basin in the courtyard was the one in which Pontius Pilate washed his hands after condemning Christ to death. (Actually, it's a Lombard bathtub from the 8th c.) Through the courtyard entrance to the right, proceed into the Romanesque cloisters from the 11th and 12th centuries. The names on the lapidary wall honor Bolognese war dead.
- © Frommer's 2013
- Recommended 2010