One of the most characteristic corners in Bologna is without doubt the Little Window in Via Piella (Finestrella di Via Piella in Italian), a narrow street in the city centre with one of the surviving gates of the second ring of walls, the so-called Torresotti.
Walking towards the gate, with via Righi behind us, well hidden underneath the portico we find a little window on our right-hand, overlooking one of the most appealing places of Bologna.
By opening the little window, a wonder site comes into view: the water canal of Le Moline, flowing between the ancient buildings.
The water canal, city deviation of the River Reno, was the main source of water in the city during the Middle Ages and is connected to the river thanks to the Sluice in Casalecchio di Reno; the sluice, still working is considered the oldest one in Europe and declared a Unesco Messenger of Peace Site. The canal’s water is high or low depending on the moment of the year as it undergoes periodic works of control and cleansing.
It was the main water canal in the city and its name is due to the many mill wheels within the canal and connected to silk factories to which Bologna owed its wealth.
Nowadays it is not possible to see the hydraulic wheels as some have been demolished and some yet dismantled and taken to Bologna’s Industrial Museum. Sometimes it is possible to see rubber boats floating along its length, though: some local associations use them to tour the “Bologna delle acque” (Bologna’s water canals), that show Bologna from a completely different point of view.