Although Bologna and Florence are both in northern Italy, they’re very different cities. Although Bologna also features amazing architecture (the portico-covered walkways for which it’s known, for instance), it’s more of an industrial centre, with a rich history in the sciences and education.
Last fall, I had the privilege of presenting part of my dissertation on Patient-Physician Communication at an academic conference at the University of Bologna. Founded in 1088, as well as being a prestigious international school, it’s the oldest university in the world in continuous operation, and the first to use the term university (universitas) upon its founding.
I’d been wanting to visit Bologna for quite some time, specifically because of its connection with Luigi Galvani (1737-1798) and his nephew, Giovanni Aldini (1762-1834). Both were physicists interested in the effect of electricity on biological organisms. Galavani stuck to frog experiments, but Aldini moved on to mammals, including humans, and is sometimes credited with partially inspiring Mary Shelley’s (1797-1851) Frankenstein: or The Modern Prometheus (1818). I located a couple of exhibits of period scientific apparatus in or near the city. Why would I care about this macabre connection to Bologna? It’ll make more sense once the next poetry collection is published!
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