A journey through the musical tradition of the Bologna plain. Where prestigious schools of musical craftsmanship and instruments originated. Where famous singers and musicians were born and lived. Where music has always found a stage, among the marvelous historical theatres, considered as small jewels of the territory.
Our itinerary starts from Budrio, a delightful porticoed town famous for being the birthplace of the ocarina, a characteristic terracotta wind instrument with a shape similar to a small goose (“ucareina”, in Bolognese dialect). The ocarina was invented in the mid-nineteenth century by Giuseppe Donati and nowadays is popular among enthusiasts all over the world, especially in the Far East. The instrument is celebrated in the Museo dell'Ocarina, a unique collection in the world which preserves specimens, scores and proof of the long tradition of local music craftsmanship.
The journey into music continues in Pieve di Cento, a village known as the "little Bologna" for its long porticoes, which earned it the recognition of "Orange Flag" by the Italian Touring Club as a small excellent Italian village in 2019. Its ancient and illustrious musical tradition is well told in the Music Museum, an exhibition displayed in the Town Hall that spans over centuries of musical history and the art of lute making, together with a collection of stage costumes and personal objects that belonged to the famous soprano Alice Zeppilli (1885-1969), who moved to the village after she married the cellist Giuseppe Alberghini from Pieve di Cento.
Also the splendid historical theater A. Zeppilli, located in the town hall, is named after the soprano. The elegant theater, decorated with refined motifs, also features an original nineteenth-century curtain depicting Aesop speaking to the shepherds. The theater is still used for shows and concerts.
The musical tradition in Pieve is kept as alive as ever by the activities of the Pieve di Cento Lute-making School, a laboratory where prestigious courses of musical craftsmanship are still held. The school can be visited upon request.
Finally, it is worth visiting the very recent "Casa della Musica" (House of Music), a fascinating creation of contemporary architecture that recalls the shape of the sound boxes and that houses the local music schools.
The journey continues through the gentle landscape of the plain up until San Giovanni in Persiceto. Among the streets of the peculiar historic center known as the “round village” lies the historic municipal theater, built in 1786 on a design by the architect Giuseppe Tubertini. Although subjected to subsequent interventions and decorations, the interior maintains its eighteenth-century structure, which recalls the façade of a classic building. The theater is open to the public for the theater season and can be visited upon request.
Sant'Agata Bolognese is the hometown of Nilla Pizzi, an artist who entered the history of Italian popular music thanks to her top hits in the 1950s, such as “Grazie dei fiori” (Thanks for the flowers), which earned her a victory in the Sanremo Festival, or “Papaveri e papere”(Poppies and ducks). Sant’Agata dedicated a curious work of street art to this last song: the old aqueduct tower of the town was recently repainted with the image of a gaudy poppy, which stands proudly on the horizon of the plain.
In the town center of Sant’Agata, the historic Ferdinando Bibiena theater is preserved, a small jewel which is still open to the public for concerts and shows. Its origins date back to the end of the 18th century and it is named after the Bibiena family, a family specialised in theatrical productions that, according to tradition, had a residence in Sant'Agata. Besides the refined decorations, the theater is characterised by an extremely elegant stalls area and a small and intimate room. Its appearance has led the theatre to the choice of particularly cultured activities. The theater can be visited upon request.