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Vergato, Ontani's aura, OASI's charm and Tolè's painted walls

Posted on 13 December 2023

Fontana Luigi Ontani

The historic seat of the Capitani della Montagna (Mountain Captains) who administered justice in the Reno Valley, Vergato is now a place of art in the Bolognese Apennines. An ideal destination for an "out-of-town" excursion, it combines the soft, green lines of the first mountains and the harmonious, enigmatic lines of the works of Maestro Luigi Ontani, who was born here and created many of his countless masterpieces. And Ontani's aura seems to have spread to the surrounding area, which offers surprises of unexpected beauty, such as the painted walls that have made the small village of Tolè famous and the nearby OASI, the factory that houses the "Bologna velata" collection of works.


In less than an hour's drive from Bologna, going up the Porrettana road, the center of Vergato can be easily reached. The first stop of the itinerary is in Vergato's main square, where stands the Palazzo dei Capitani della Montagna whose original structure dates back to the 1400s while its current appearance is due to numerous restorations and reconstruction following the damage suffered in World War II. The palace's stained-glass windows, created in 1998 by Luigi Ontani, embellish the large windows of the City Council Chamber and form a microcosm of lights and colors that are highly symbolic and evocative, representing the ages of man, the four elements and the four seasons, as well as symbologies referring to the heraldry of the families that have dominated the territory in the past. Inside the palace, on the ground floor, you will find the MuseOntani. The exhibition space houses numerous works donated by the Master that well testify to his original artistic production, which is expressed through the working of countless materials (glass, ceramics, marble, wood) and in photography, where he himself is the protagonist.

"RenVergatellAppenninMontovolo" Fountain

Inaugurated in 2019, Luigi Ontani's "RenVergatellAppenninMontovolo" fountain, second stop on the route, is located in the square in front of the town's train station. The work represents the Vergatello area and is made of two structural bodies: a central bronze one, from which rise a faun, a depiction of the Reno river, and Cupid, the Love of Art, symbolizing the Vergatello stream. The surrounding structure features a majestic triton, which represents the Apennines and, like it, is meant to contain water. The giant rests on an egg that alludes to the fabled Montovolo, circled in a spiral by the serpent Auroboros. Tolè and the painted walls Just a few kilometers from the city center, the third recommended stop is the village of Tolè, which, thanks to the ArTolè event organized over the years by the Fontechiara association, has become a popular tourist destination for the en plein air collection that embellishes its streets, squares and old, characteristic stone houses. More than 100 works can be admired including sculptures, paintings and murals by artists such as Wolfango, Rolando Gandolfi, Demetrio Casile, Paolo Gualandi, Roberto Barbato, Luigi Faggioli, and Alfredo Marchi.


In the surroundings of Tolè, a few kilometers away, the OASI (Opificio Artistico, Silvestre, Ideale) is also worth a visit. It is located in an ancient mill, where the sculptor Paolo Gualandi built his factory. Here it is possible to visit the permanent collection Bologna Velata, consisting of more than 80 works by artists of the 20th century, mainly from Bologna but not only. A peculiarity of the place is that some of the works created by the artists who participated in the workshops held here over the years are hosted in the woods surrounding the mill, and surprise visitors with their uncanny shapes.

Duration: 24 hours

Interest: Art & Culture

Target: family/friends-single/couple