San Giacomo Maggiore Portico

Bologna, Emilia-Romagna, Italy

1996 World Monuments Watch

San Giacomo Maggiore boasts an elegant portico – the only one of Renaissance style in Bologna – along its northern side. The portico connects the church to the smaller church of Santa Cecilia, providing both structures with a unifying architectural element of exceptional merit. Its ornate frieze of polychromed terra-cotta grotesques – coated to look like marble – is an early example of the use of one material to imitate another. Neglect has undermined the structure. Decaying stone threatens the stability of the 36 columns supporting the arcade, and some sections of the crowning frieze have in fact collapsed. Air pollution and leaking roofs are not the only problems; students from the nearby university are responsible for acts of ongoing vandalism. Public advocacy and private support are needed to spur a conservation project that includes consolidation of areas threatened with unrecoverable loss, cleaning of the surfaces, and restoration of deteriorated elements and flaking surfaces.

Last updated: June 2018.

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