To continue our research for Louise Freshman Brown’s painting workshop here in October, Linda and I found the museum dedicated to the Bolognese artist, Giorgio Morandi. It is located on the second floor of the grand Palazzo d’Accursio facing the Piazza Maggiore. This is a civil building that also houses the stock exchange and City Hall. The stone staircases were exaggeratedly broad, with high, vaulted ceilings frescoed from end to end, suitable for a duke (or a pope) to descend royally. The museum was wonderful, full of oil paintings and etchings in Morandi’s signature style (if you don’t know this artist, we can recommend you investigate his work - click on the link- Giorgio Morandi - Artwork)
When we left the museum we heard the noise of a cheering crowd, reverberating in the hallways. There was applause with explosions and shouts of “auguri”. As it turns out, it was Saturday and there were several weddings going on in City Hall. We snuck down to see what was going on and found a large, ceremonial room packed with well-dressed people. There was a grand mahogany desk in the middle with 4 red velvet chairs and 2 formal pens for signing marriage documents. The room had ¾ length windows where a bride and groom were waving to the crowds below in the square. There was music playing in the room and general congratulations being liberally tossed around.
|Wedding couple in Bologna|
Many people don’t realize that in Italy – one of the most Catholic countries in the world – marriages are only recognized when performed at a municipal City Hall. That is the principle ceremony where your friends and family go to witness your vows and to support you on your life together. Should you choose to have a church service afterwords, (and many do not) it is purely ceremonial and not legally binding. The Church has no authority to marry people. That rests entirely with the State.
|Wedding guest complete with confetti|
We slipped down the stairs incognito, shuffling through the rice and confetti scattered about the landing where the bride and groom had paused for pictures. We mingled momentarily with the guests in the entry courtyard of the palazzo watching them drink champagne and celebrate. We had big smiles on our faces, caught up in the revelry as we emerged onto the main square.
It was a beautiful day, so we sat for a while in one of the cafes under the arcades for a coffee.
All of Bologna seemed to traverse that square, from dreadlocked students to elegant wedding guests to a variety of brides and grooms in long white gowns, short purple dresses and Indian sarongs passing each other on their way to or from their marriage vows.