Finding Morandi along the Way

Hills around Grizzana Morandi © Maggiore g.a.m, Bologna|Milan|Paris

The Via degli Dei (the Road of the Gods) starts in Bologna and crosses over the Tuscan Emilian Apennines. Walking along this ancient path, at some points you find yourself walking upon ancient Roman stones. There is another, parallel path quite different from the one that winds through nature, one that starts in the Etruscan ruins of Marzabotto and continues up to our own time through some of the greatest artists and architects of the 20th century.

We have found ourselves on many occasions on the Bologna side, with the first stop in Grizzana, a little town that has been renamed “Grizzana Morandi” in honour of Giorgio Morandi, who spent his summers there. The panorama stretches out as far as the eye can see over the Campiaro barns and what was once an old dirt road, and it is easy to see how the landscapes led the painter to create the abstract balance of “silences and tones” that Roberto Longhi spoke of.

La via degli Dei
Casa Morandi in Grizzana. © Maggiore g.a.m, Bologna|Milan|Paris

The next stop on our itinerary is the church of Santa Maria Assunta in Riola di Vergato: commissioned by the cardinal Giacomo Lercaro, this architectural masterpiece is Alvar Aalto’s only building in Italy. The undulating form of the church is set amongst the surrounding hills and, thanks to its windows, the mood of its interior changes depending on the weather: it is a masterpiece of organic architecture, a genre over which Aalto reigned supreme.

La via degli Dei
Santa Maria Assunta in Riola di Vergato by Alvar Aalto, 1966-1980. © Maggiore g.a.m, Bologna|Milan|Paris

Our final stop is in the piazza of the Vergato train station, where a fountain designed by Luigi Ontani was recently inaugurated. A touch of contemporaneity in the middle of an endlessly fascinating landscape.