Italian cities are amazing. They are full of vibrant and rich history that spans decades and even centuries. Bologna is one such city. A quick search on Google will bring results for the local football team. However, there’s more to Bologna than football. Bologna is the European hemp headquarters.
In your readings, you must have come across some of the various uses of the hemp plant, other than the use for recreational purposes. In Bologna, hemp was cultivated for the production of fiber, which would be used for cycling. It’s easy to assume that like most historical cities, that’s all there is to Bologna, and their hemp heritage is a thing of the past. However, that’s far from the truth.
Bologna is once again set to relive its youth, having one of the finest, established trade fairs for cannabis, an event that’s expected to inject life to an industry that’s already on the rise. Interest in cannabis has peaked in Europe over the years, and with new markets opening up in the US and Canada in light of the recent favorable legislation, there’s a lot to look forward to.
Middle Age Hemp
Hemp has always been one of the main reasons why Bologna gets attention. During the middle ages, a lot of the land under cultivation in Bologna was set aside for hemp. A trip to the countryside can reveal some of the lands that are still used for cultivating hemp. In light of recent advances in agriculture and change in lifestyle over the years, some of these lands have been repurposed into reserves for wildlife, making them the perfect destination for tourism.
Early in the 17th century, new markets were discovered in northwestern Europe for Bolognese hemp. The shipyards became one of the best commercial markets for hemp that was produced in Bologna.
One of the earliest entrepreneurs in the Bologna cannabis market was Antonio Pezzoli (1870-1943). Pezzoli was an innovator, and an industrialist, the brain behind the Touring Club. The Touring Club would go on to become one of the most prominent bicycle organizations throughout Italy. He used to take a lot of photos of the hemp plantations, photos which currently are part of a rich tourist attraction in Italy.
Through his work, he highlighted the development of hemp during his time, and how this would later on be modernized into the cannabis production that we know today. His bicycle was just as popular as the production of cannabis during the time, which got him attention, even though everyone wasn’t that excited about his popularity.
In the traditional and conservative Catholic church, the leaders in Rome didn’t appreciate his bicycle, given that they claimed it was immoral, showing parts of the body to the public. Even legal officers didn’t appreciate the bicycle, because they saw it as a getaway means for outlaws who had notoriously been mugging people. However, over time, the opposition to hemp and the bicycle soon turned into appreciation.