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Succede solo a Bologna APS | The ancient professions of Bologna
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Bologna is a busy city that continues to preserve its historical trades and ancient professions, remembering them with plaques, commemorative stones, and even street names, firmly linking them to the city’s history.

The Brentatori

This term is generally unknown outside of Bologna, but the Brentatori actually have a history that is very closely linked to the city and its historical center. The ancient headquarters of the historic “Compagnia dell’Arte dei Brentatori” was located in what is now Via de’ Pignattari, next to the Basilica of San Petronio, and is currently occupied by the Hotel Commercianti.

But what did a Brentatore do? This corporation, born in 1250 but not legally recognized until the 15th century, brought together workers who transported wine on their backs in containers known as “Brente”. In addition to transportation, the Brentatori also had the task of tasting the wine and were the only judges who could certify its quality. In fact, they were considered great wine connoisseurs. Sound like a pretty cushy job? Well, it wasn’t all wine tasting. Whenever there was a fire, the Brentatori would be called upon to put it out by running to the site with their “brente” full of water.


The Notaries

This was one of the most powerful guilds in the city, and even had a whole building dedicated to it: the Palazzo dei Notai. The building, the ancient seat of the Notaries’ society, is located between two other very important buildings in the city: San Petronio (the civic temple of Bologna) and Palazzo d’Accursio (Bologna’s city hall), testifying to the importance of this corporation. The Notaries and “Beccai” are also the only corporations to have their own chapels in the Basilica of San Petronio. The chapel for the Notaries is called the chapel of the Holy Cross and displays the coat of arms of the Society of Notaries.


The Beccai

The Beccai were butchers, and traces of this profession can still be found throughout the city. The “Casa dell’Arte dei Beccai” was once located in Via Caprarie, where they still have a tile displayed on the wall at number 3, though the house itself was demolished in 1912.

The Beccai were butchers, and traces of this profession can still be found throughout the city. The “Casa dell’Arte dei Beccai” was once located in Via Caprarie, where they still have a tile displayed on the wall at number 3, though the house itself was demolished in 1912.

The Beccai, like the Notaries, also had their own chapel in San Petronio, known as the Chapel of Saint Peter the Martyr. The chapel contains a canvas painted by Francesco Brizio depicting the coronation of the Madonna of the Borgo di San Pietro, an image to which the Bolognese butchers were devoted. You can also find, painted on the wall, the emblem of the Beccai and the coats of arms of the twenty-one men who were part of the Council for this corporation in 1613.


The Salaroli

The tastiest of the professions, the Salaroli were a medieval guild dedicated to the preservation of meat or cheeses with salt. In fact, their coat of arms was a cup of salt.

One Bolognese specialty made the Salaroli particularly famous: the beloved mortadella. They were actually the first to manage the production of this popular cold cut (and much more). It all began in 1661, when Cardinal Farnese approved a new law titled “Bando e provisione sopra la fabbrica delle Mortadelle e salami”, setting down official specifications for the production of mortadella and cold cuts, and making it the oldest law in the world regarding the protection of an Italian delicacy. The Salaroli were thus tasked with affixing the seal of guaranteed quality on each mortadella. This corporation is remembered with a plaque at number 6 in Vicolo Ranocchi, put up in honor of the 130th anniversary of the Mutua Salsamentari, which saw the “rebirth” of the ancient Company of the Salaroli.


Have you heard of other ancient professions?

Let us know at ufficio.stampa@succedesoloabologna.it

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