There is modern art around the roads leading in towards the city that has a humour. Raphael the artist grew up here and the contrasts in the way the land is segmented into wedges of valleys above lush thriving lines of vegetation betray the structures in his composition. There is form in the narrative but there is a continuity that nods toward s the possibility of modern art where figurative proportions are disregarded so the exact thought of the mind is conveyed without compromise.
The way the land appears to roll into infinity yet is still segmented show how Raphael might have been inspired as a child to organise his canvases and revolutionise Art.
The land surrounding Bologna and the University that serves this area shows no compromise, just like Raphael’s work.
Rural Bologna is infinite all that can be seen is the horizon and even that does not end it merges with the blue sky and light seems to be bouncing off the freshness of the green hills. The valley stands tall and proud and casts no shadows
Luca Ghini was a student here and trained in medicine before founding Bologna Physic Garden. A medicinal garden was present here in 1300s and moved location as was common in other notable European gardens (for example Edinburgh’s Botanic Garden has been housed in 4 locations, each is celebrated with a modern tribute). Each time Gardens were uprooted and moved, the new location showed improved design and an expanded site. Passionate benefactors, generous collectors and determined Physicians founded the gardens we know today in times of challenge and conflict, often involving a personal sacrifice. The gardens here show their endeavours have stood the test of time and after experiencing rural Bologna it feels that this is a cause that deserves recognition.
The Botanical Garden of the University of Bologna is one of the oldest in Italy. It was founded in 1568 after the proposal of Luca Ghini. This built on it’s potential of a medicinal garden of 1365 and this power of one man to effect change has had a domino effect on gardens in Europe to this day.
The total area is about two hectares which contains more than five thousand specimens of native and exotic plants. There are three greenhouses, two with tropical plants. Areas of the garden are devoted to medicinal plants and forest vegetation.
Hidden fountains and succulent plants that embrace shade and light captures the flexibility and ranges of the Bologna wildlife.
Italy’s prominent Physician Luca Ghini went on to found Gardens in Pisa in 1544 where he established the first herbarium. Like many of the founders that he inspired, he wrote extensively about his findings, a testament to his belief in the power of plants.
These books along with the gardens Ghini launched would be viewed by aristocrats on their Grand Tour in the late 17th Century. The inspiration was taken home with vengeance to convert the abandoned monastic gardens of England that lay in a state of disrepair by the earlier actions of Henry VIII armies mid 1500s. This creates the seeds of the British Botanic Gardens we know today. This movement of change in the late 17th centuries started and is responsible for the style of flora sanctuaries we enjoy today and often recreate in our own gardens. Some of the geometry that is common to our gardening tastes in Britain can be related to the patterns seen in the valleys of Italy. In addition to the Grand Tour, these ideas were distributed around Europe via fine art landscape masterpieces.
Sir Hans Sloane ensured land in London was available for the Chelsea Physic Garden to become a significant European Garden. To this day it retains historic artefacts explaining how the Garden was born out of the medicinal gardens of the 1300s.
Other wise people who let the legend of Luca Ghini shine brightly after his death in 1556 includes Cuthbert Simpson of Glasgow who tended a Medicinal Garden amidst the turmoil of the 16th Century. In the 17th Century women such as Anne Green of Oxford spoke widely about the benefits of the plants that revived her from a brush with death. William Petty, a Physician from Brasenose College, revived her with medicines that would have been prepared from Oxford’s Botanic Garden.
Britain’s first Physic Garden (later evolving to today’s Botanic Garden) is in Oxford founded in 1623. That is where the story of the faces and places who secured the 17th sanctuaries we enjoy today can be told.
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