Il teatro anatomico – Biblioteca comunale dell’Archiginnasio

Stuff looking at endless paintings of fat Jesus babies and adoring or pitying mothers: I want to see marble slab tables where cadavers were dissected for anatomical teaching hundreds of years ago! In Bologna we found some real European history.
We had planned on visiting a limited number of cities, to allow for optimum exploration time.  We didn’t stay long enough in Bologna.  We arrived shortly after lunch and, after dragging our luggage South from the Bologna Centrale Stazione to the centre of the downtown area, we were sweaty and hungry.  We wandered about, unable to find the fountain next to the piazza because it’s encased in scaffolding for repairs, instead meandered East via some pasta.
There are two towers in the East, both lean but one more than the other.  Maybe it’s the Italian style, to build towers with an exciting tilt; will it topple or will it stand? We walked through the university area, heavily vandalised with graffiti, grimy, and reeking of marijuana and cigarettes and occasional wafts of human urine.  It was as if the Arts building at UWA had exploded into an Italian city.  I was sad I never had a chance to be a part of either culture; Med School students were like refugees shifted from borrowed lecture theatre to general purpose building, not actually having a home to go to but living off the welfare of other schools.
We visited the Teatro Anatomico.  There is  white marble slab central to a wooden room, ranked wooden pews on all four sides, raked up three levels. A chair for the lecturer is flanked either side with sculpted wood male figures that have no skin: the sartorial muscles crossing each thigh from anterior pelves to medial knees.  In no relation to the theme of anatomy the ceiling is adorned with Appolo, surrounded by constellations.  Statues and crests are littered across the walls.  It was very different to the stainless steel anatomy lab at the University of Western Australia where I dissected a cadaver, with my Medical School classmates, in 1997 and 1998.

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