“San Colombano - Tagliavini Collection: One of Europe’s finest small museums: harpsichords, spinets, grand pianos”
If you turn left into Via Manzoni after visiting Palazzo Fava, behind the Hotel Baglioni (recently renamed the Grand Hotel Majestic, facing the Cathedral of S. Pietro in Via Indipendenza), it is easy to get to San Colombano, a church that is part of the Genus Bononiae series of museums. We had the good fortune not only to visit the collection, but also to get tickets from the ticket office for a concert here (on the Saturday before). The tickets are called coupons because admission is free of charge but if you don’t show up in good time before the concert your place is allocated to those waiting at the door. At the concert we attended, the instruments were played by Maestro Tagliavini, the professor of music who dedicated 50 years of his life to putting together this wonderful collection of 80 historic musical instruments. The ancient church of San Colombano has been painstakingly restored to provide a fitting showcase for these priceless instruments, that include organs, an early eighteenth-century folding harpsichord, an Italian-style bentside spinet, two square pianos, a half-sloping console piano and no less than three grand pianos. Some of the instruments are embellished with pastoral scenes and the overall effect is enchanting. The Oratory on the first floor is an interesting part of the experience and visitors would do well to allow time also for this part of the San Colombano complex. The ground floor is step-free, and visitors using a wheelchair are admitted through a separate door at the front of the building by means of a short ramp. Then there is small lift up to the first floor, where there are steps in various places, so unlike the ground floor, the first floor is not step-free. In addition there is a thirteenth-century crypt with a wall painting that came to light during the restoration work.
San Colombano is only one minute on foot from Palazzo Fava: just turn left as you come out of the palazzo and walk straight on for about 200 metres and on the right you will come to the imposing façade of the church, with an ornate portico on the ground floor. The entrance is just past the portico, to the right. On the upper part of the façade the rather curious bronze sign “Casa del Mutilato” is a reminder of the fact that after the First World War the first-floor oratory housed an association of ex-servicemen, though this meant they had to make their way up a flight of stairs. Then the building fell into disrepair. After years of neglect, San Colombano has now been restored to its former glory, providing visitors with a unique experience, that is made all the more agreeable by the kindness and helpfulness of the museum staff. Guided tours are held at regular intervals but all the exhibits are carefully labelled in English and Italian so you can still enjoy the experience even without a guide. Admission is free of charge.
Opening hours: 10-13, 15-19, from Tuesdays to Sundays, closed on Mondays. Admission free. Address: Via Parigi 5, Bologna. Tel.: 051 19936366. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
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