Circolo della Caccia was established in Bologna on 1 October 1888 by a group of hunting enthusiasts and experts in the art of hunting with dogs.
The club moved a number of times in the period between the end of the nineteenth century and the start of the twentieth century, until 26 March 1927 when it moved to its current location in Via Castiglione 25, which was once owned by the Princes of Spada.
Circolo della Caccia has retained all of its prestige: chairpersons have come and gone, Bologna itself has changed, as have its customs, but its halls still welcome great characters and experience today’s history. With its rooms charged with atmosphere, frescoed walls and private corners, Circolo della Caccia continues to be an important point of reference for illustrious guests.
This page contains details of the most significant parts of the history of Circolo della Caccia, from 1888 to present day.
lst October 1888: the Path starts
In the late 1800s the café is a real institution in Bologna: it is difficult to give its draw the slip, impossible not to have a break “half an hour in those warm, well lighted sale-rooms, noisy for the so-called taute Balagne, that would feel lacking in something if he didn’t make his appearance, especially between seven and eight o’clock, after dinner time”.
The café is the place where the literary and political life of the town spread, where the gossip is in the norm: everybody has his own public of habitual visitors, his own history. The café is also the place where the most exclusive sodalities emerge and which sometimes win the city celebrity.
It is just in the sale-rooms as soaked of tobacco and of the penetrating odour of spirits at least as of various and rambling chatters of Beletti beer house out of D’Azeglio Archway - an elegant building on the avenue, certainly one of the most renowned resorts of the town – that a group of people found the club of the Bolognese Hunters. Nevertheless, the negotiations to fix there the seat come to nothing, so that they feel under compulsion to look for elsewhere. They obtain concession for the upper sale-rooms by the Café dei Servi, located in via Mazzini, 39.
The Emilian exhibition
1888: the town invites to the Margherita Gardens, where the main buildings are collected, Italy, and it offers “its” exhibition in the fields of industry, agriculture and music. By San Michele in Bosco, Enrico Panzacchi ran an exhibit of fine arts and by the Archiginnasio they celebrated with solemnity the VIII centenary of the birth of theUniversity. This is the occasion the town awaited, in order to put itself on the level of others preceding it; it is the pride of a revenge towards the history, which always denied it that role of big fair centre it deserved for its renowned industries – suffice it to think to that one of the silk. It is also the consciousness to have lacked in enterprise, retiring for centuries into the shell of a strong and valid work as well as it was limited in the territory. Perhaps owing to the calmness, typical of the Bolognese world. Bologna is also Bologna the erudite: and it is feast of the university and of those first springy thrills, as the age when the exhibition was inaugurated, which already recognise it an important role in what technology is and what will be future. However, the celebration of the VIII centenary are also the occasion awaited by the Director of Il Resto del Carlino, the Ferrarese lawyer Amilcare Zamorani, to bring the Bolognese daily to the national forefront. The draw is suasive and the success shall not fail.
The first assembly
On 14th November 1888 the first assembly of the members takes place in the premises leased for 75 lire a month by Mister Leopoldo Gambelli and the plenary meeting votes the first statute of the Hunting Club of Bologna. They are 48 articles, divided up into 8 titles, which regulate the organisation of the club, its management, the admission and which define the tasks of the chairmanship, the treasurer, the secretary, the councillors and the plenary meeting. “The club entitled Hunting Club of Bologna is established with the aim to attend to what is concerning the interests of hunting in Bologna province and to provide its members for an useful and pleasing meeting” (art. l). Private clubs and cafés fulfil a front line role in the life of nineteenth-century Bologna. They are fully approved places where the different cases isolate themselves to celebrate their social and cultural customs: every class, both wealthy or not, noble or popular, has its own exclusive club where it feels at ease and where it identifies. In the late 800s many Clubs are operative in Bologna. The Domino Club, in via Castiglione 16, is a very noble and exclusive resort “at the purpose of an useful and pleasing meeting. It is absolutely forbidden to have any meeting or organized discussion alien to the club nature, included concerts, dances and similar acts”.
The Bolognese Club or Bolognese Society is at the first floor of the building which is Loup heirs’ property, in Piazza Calderini , 4. It is frequented by a certain conservative middle class. Alfredo Testoni in his book “Bologna which disappears”, asserts that it is the place where “you make and unmake the deputies and the city councillors”. According to Giulio Padovani, it is the headquarters of the gros-bonnets of the rampant moderate party. In 1898 the Bolognese Club ceases its short existence and in one side of the premises Il Resto del Carlino settles down.
The Artistic Club in Cataldi Palace, in via Montegrappa, 1, is instead frequented by what we could define the “home” debauchery of late 800s, literates, musicians, painters and sculptors. The social city feast of 11th March 1882 doesn’t remain famous at random. In the Club many artists exhibit their paintings, that are not devoid of any talent.
In 1891 the new times are characterized by the birth of the Democratic Club located in via Zamboni ,9. It plans “to open a place of outstanding resort to those who, having a sure credo in the unstoppably fated path of progress and democracy, mean to grab the right to discuss with efficacy the ideas, the intentions, the aspirations towards the common ideal”.
Starting from 1894 the clericalists of noble family can begin to frequent the Chess Club. Not only the leisured and noble classes have their exclusive club: also the populace creates its own societies, particularly operative in the carnival time. On the contrary, the local clubs emerge with a social purpose, too, to avert the populace from the inns and they are often encouraged by the mutual aid Societies.
Twenty years of Bolognese Society. 1881-1901
The landowners are yet the dominant class and the fact that they prefer not to turn away capitals from agriculture is reported by many enterprises of public nature – gas, tram service, water main, power production (at least in a starting phase) – which are financed with foreign capitals even if they appear with all the features of a sure remuneration. Also the construction firms – and they are not footling if we think to the redefinition of the town planning of the city historical centre ruled by the town plan of 1889 with the widening of via Rizzoli and with the demolition of Artenisi and Guidozagni towers, to the exploitation of the land in the renewal zone of Garagnani Gardens by Galliera Archway – don’t attract very much. At least, until the increasing disorders in the land advise a different finalization of the investments. Anyway, the rural vocation of the capital, prerogative of an ancient nobility but also of the young aristocracy of Napoleonic origin and of that middle class that could get enormous advantages from the speculation on the goods sales of religious guilds’ property, keeps steady the social composition avoiding so the big disputes and avoiding especially many cases deriving from the fast industry development.
On 22nd December 1888 the Marquess Giovanni Salina Amorini hands his resignation from the post of chairman of the Club by reasons he didn’t specify. Therefore it is convened an extraordinary plenary meeting that has to provide for the election of the new chairman. In the evening of 29th December, with 18 present members out of 41 – and then legal according to the art. 39 (the assembly of first nomination is valid with the intervention of one third of the members. The assembly of second nomination is valid with the number of interventions, on condition that it takes place eight days later) – they proceed to the voting from which the name of Mister Giuseppe Bonavia arises, who scores 17 voting preferences.
In 1889 the members of the Club are already increased to 60.
The first life year of the Club
The members of the Hunting Club are now distinct, according to articles 5 and 6 of the statute, in promoters and associates who are admitted to frequent the sale-rooms according to article 13.
In its first life year the Club is honoured by the presence and the signing of many eminent names of that time. The society news refer of sumptuous dances and feats to which the members intervene dressed with red tailcoats of the fox hunters. The Club has acquired, despite its young age, an appearance which is given not only by “the cynegetic lovers (or better the art to employ the dogs in the hunt” by the hunters and by the crack shots who grace the town of Bologna in national and international races) but, more generally, by the good middle class and by the thick group of professionals. In conclusion, a pleasing benchmark whose reputation always creates new followers and puts itself beyond the limited attractions and a silent Bolognese simplicity.
The social annual dues are fixed in 36 lire for every member and the admission due amounts to 5 lire for every new accession. They recognize the waiter on duty a benefit of 2.5% on the cashed and outstanding sums during the year, on the contrary, his monthly earning is of 30 lire. In the estimate of cost for the period from 1st October 1889 – till 30th April 1890 they include the cost for the rent of a billiard table “at a rate of 20 lire a month” and that one for the playing cards (200 lire).
On 20th October 1889 they elect the new chairman: the Count Antonio Marescalchi receives 14 voting preferences out of 21 voting members and he is the new chairman: vice-chairman is Mister Vito Querzoli. During the same assembly the domicile of the Club is regularized with a simple contract “…it remains declared that Mister Leopoldo Gambelli, who is entitled and to whom belongs the saying flat, gives and rents out to Mister Bonavia Giuseppe, as Hunting Club chairman, who accepts the management of a furnished flat for the use Club located in this town, in via Mazzini over Caffé dei Servi. This contract shall start from 1st October 1889 and shall stop on 8th May 1890”. The lease is fixed in 75 lire a month and “will be paid with monthly instalments deferred by the Tenant to the domicile/s of the Lessor, without delay or any meaning. The flat is composed of an entrance, a reading room, a playing room, a little sale-room, services. In these premises the Hunting Club remains until the first days of February 1890 when it will temporarily move to the sale-rooms located over Caffé dei cacciatore in Piazza Ravegnana.
The Caffé dei Cacciatori
This café, one of many in Bologna but also one of the most “particular”, reaches out its being on the outside under the big arcade which is located in the shade of the towers, at right angles with via Castiglione. Here they read little and play let alone; they breath an air different from that one of the more distinct and exclusive cafés. Nonetheless, a various public stems whose kaleidoscope are students and teachers, artists and bohemians, politicians and money-makers on the whole, engaged with jokes and considerations that run by word of mouth and spread on the walls of the café until they reach those one who, under the arcade in the open air also in the harshest climate, speak about hunt or discuss vivaciously about the before and after the horse races.
To provide for the establishment and furnishing costs of the new seat, the Club puts the residual asset and the social contribution at disposal. Nevertheless, the so scraped sum is not sufficient and they open a subscription among the members for 50 shares of a nominal value of 50 lire, which will be paid off in succeeding times.
How upper-class Bologna of late 800s wore
By day, along the streets of the town you can admire some professionals who – as testimonial – wear the riding-coat or the frock coat, the suit for the official occasions. The tailcoat is, on the contrary, the classical suit for the gala nights or for the theatre, for dinners and dances. In the open air they usually wore a wheel tippet – the most elegant and valuable are lined with white embroidered silk – over the tailcoat or the “cloak” provided with pelerine and sleeves. The daily life of turn of the century attends to the spreading of the “jacket” done up aloft with four buttons. They wear the hat: the classical one is the top hat and it is suitable for every occasion. Another garment is the “capparèla”. Everybody wears it, rich and poor, tall and short, fat and thin. What makes the difference is not only the manufacture but also the body wearing it and the way it is worn. In short, it is elegant only if it is well worn and especially if it is well manufactured. Salacious and witty remarks arise on the wretches, who are found out:
«La capparèla la par attàc a la crusira d'l 'armèri»
(The capparella seems hanging from the cross of the cupboard)
«Al porta la capparèla com un imbariègh»
(He wears the capparella as a drunk)
«L 'um pèr la ciòza con sòtta i pipién».
(He seems the brood-hen with the chicks below)
The most complete assortment is the one of “sgnèra Gigia”, wife of Filippo Vignoli, the tailor who, for years, had the shop on the corner of via Indipendenza and Vetturini (today via Ugo Bassi ).
On 16th February 1891 the Hunting Club moves to a flat of Mister Alessandro Vaccari’s property, located at the first floor of the building in via Rizzoli, 33. “The lease requital remains invariably fixed in Thousand-two-hundred lire (1,200), that the Tenant will pay to the domicile of the Lessee in two instalments every year and i.e.: the first one within next 14th August and the second one within next 24th December and so on.”
The contract, signed by mister Vito Querzoli for the Hunting Club, will run for five years. The flat is described as follows: “flat at the first floor composed of passage of entrance lightened by the transom-window of varnished wood with glasses; then three bedrooms looking into the street, the first and the second one with firesides of earthen with iron tubes; then a toilet as bathroom with bath or tub and marble table, water pipes with water taps of brass and behind a little room with water–closet of marble; then a room for pantry and living-room, afterwards the kitchen and behind that one two small rooms, one for pantry and the other one with sink; then a bedroom looking into the court of the Café Cacciatori with another pantry. In every room there is a gas piping and furthermore three lamps with one light and opaque hat and glass tube and other two lamps shaped like Lira without glass”.
The members increase and they are figures of great importance in every field of knowledge and of the professional life of the Bolognese society. The Club acquires more and more consideration in the surroundings of the upper-class Bologna of that time and it feels the sale-rooms of the ancient seat more and more cramped.
The nights of the town
Also in the late 800s, Bologna doesn’t renounce to its own night-wandering “vocation”, even if the night life develops itself more behind the curtains of the cafés or the main doors which announce the city clubs than in the streets and under the arcades, full of arcane shadows. The theatres are yet rather rare, whilst it is more and more established the café chantant (the “variety theatre” in the Bolognese dimension), introduced by the libertine Paris on the occasion of the Emilian exhibition of 1888.
Going out from the theatre, a minority of people, in a certain sense, “distinguished”, enters into the cafés and beerhouses which are more in vogue and there they have dinner. Others, otherwise less distinguished, approach the seller of silkworms and rum under the arcades and at the right angles of the streets and there poetise or recite between one mouthful and another. Meantime, the agents of the gas Society put out one lamp every two creating particular tricks of light. The fiacres, real masters of the night, stand in front of the clubs waiting for the client to walk home. The horses, covered by wool bolts, doze and perhaps dream rich royal coaches.
Life of the Hunting Club flows quietly in the spirit of the tradition and encompasses the spiritual and intimist features of the ancient Bologna. Though in its habits, the Club is able to conjugate also the modern purposes and it always tries to offer the best to its members, more and more numerous, the best of the city nobility.
On 15th October 1894 the marquis Giovanni Salina Amorini. re-elected as chairman on 5th May 1893 – enters into a purchase contract with Mister Francesco Vignudini for a new billiard table with following sizes: 2.84 meters of length and 1.42 meters of width. The purchase price, included the accessories, is fixed in 1,400 lire divided into six instalments, whose last one will be due on 15th April 1897. The billiard table is equipped with 12 billiard-cues, a hand scoreboard, two ivory balls with a weight of 250 grams everyone, five ivory balls with a total weight of 994 grams, eight ivory balls with object ball for the snooker play of a total weight of 1,174 grams.
In the purchase contract they inserted following clause “the Hunting Club intends to have power to give back the billiard table and its accessories to the seller after the term of one year if it estimates that it is not satisfied; in that case this contracts will be rescinded and of no effect and the first instalment of lire 300 (three hundred) that will be paid on 15th December 1894 will be kept by way of rental by Mister Vignudini, the Hunting Club remaining in this way free from every other compulsion towards the seller. It is as well convened that mister Vignudini will take the giving back of the eight snooker play balls on application of the Hunting Club, on condition that this doesn’t occur after next 10th November – in that case they will deduct the amount of lire 60 (sixty) from the billiard price, remaining so the agreed price at lire 1,340.
During the period from June 1893 – June 1894 the social rates amount to 2,416 lire. In the same period the Club, in the person of Giuseppe Succi, lawyer, takes out an insurance with Riunione Adriatica di Sicurtà for a value of 4,500 lire. The billiard table is insured except for the ivory for one year. From the meeting convened on 5th May 1893 the new chairmanship of the Club emerges; it is so composed:
- Chairman: marquis Giovanni Salina Amorini
- Vice-chairmain: Cesare Marchi
- Treasurer: Gaetano Querzoli
- Secretary: Giuseppe Succi, lawyer
- Councillors : Angelo Goretti, knight Pellegrino Magistrini, Ernesto Romagnoli.
In 1889 the hunters of Bologna province are 3,388; other 60 shoot with nets and with means tolerated by the law. The gun licence and the hunt licence cost 12 lire. The hunt is officially opened on 1st August of every year and it triggers an incredible sequence of game massacres but mainly of sparrows, particularly damaging for the agricultural products.
In the late 1800s, but even more in the first decades of 1900s, you can say that every self-respecting person has a gun with which he goes to delight close to home or away. At the same time, the Café dei Cacciatori is ascended to shrine of the hunting: here they know the vicissitudes but it is mainly possible to listen to stories of astonishing feats (as bloated sometimes) and the tricks, visiting card of every hunter.
When the Café dei Cacciatori succumbs to the building revolution, its place is taken by the shop of the gunsmith Giacinto Zanotti, who becomes the “senate” of the variegated hunting world.
We said that the Hunting Club emerges from a group of people, who are passionate lovers of the cynegetics, or better the art to employ dogs in the hunting, and of the hunting itself.
On 3rd April 1894 the members, convened into the meeting, decide to found a section of skeet shooting together with the Bolognese Society of pigeon skeet. Twenty members adhere immediately to the initiative and vote also a rule divided into 14 points. As for it, the Bolognese Society, convened into its own meeting, votes the fusion with the prestigious Hunting Club with one voice.
All the members of the Club can join the new special section paying an annual surcharge of 15 lire; the members of the Bolognese Society have the run to the Club without paying the entrance fee but they are obliged to abide scrupulously by the rules and the articles of the statute. Also who is not member of the Club can adhere to the skeet section paying an annual fee of 30 lire and an admission fee of 20 lire.
On 4th January 1895 the new presidencies are voted: the marquis Giovanni Salina Amorini is re-elected as chairman with 19 voting preferences and the engineer knight Cesare Marchi is also reconfirmed in the post of vice-chairman.
The treasurer is doctor Alfedo Romagnoli; secretary is the lawyer Giuseppe Succi and councillors are the knight Pellegrino Magistrini, Angelo Goretti and Ernesto Romagnoli.
1895 is a rich year where two very important events for the Club life are summed up: the reconfirmation of the chairmanship, a fact that can only benefit and grant tranquillity to the Club itself and to its members and the nth removal of the social seat.
The repeated removals report in an explicit way the success and the achievement of an institution that in a handful of years became natural with the Bolognese life and feature assuming not only the aspects of a pure surface but living also an intimate city prestige.
The marquis Giovanni Salina Amorini combined the rare qualities of hunter and shot. As hunter he always trained in his valley La Cà di Fra, under the Vallazza. Once he shot 204 head to the ducks; and it is said that in a score of years he went one hundred head at least beyond fifty times, among ducks and snipes.
In the game park of the marquis Carega, once he let fall down 60 pheasants and 10 hares. In the valley they counted also 416 teals for him; in Foggia 1,077 larks. (Gaspare Ungarelli no. 11, Bologna municipality, Y. XVII no. 6, June 1930).
The gentleman earl Cesare Malvasia - Tortorelli enters into a lease contract with the marquis Giovanni Salina Amorini for a flat located in the town, via Mazzini ,15, under the parish of S. Bartolomeo. The contract has for the first time a duration above one year – in fact it will end on 8th May 1901 – and it will be extended every two years if “from one of the two sides is not extradited the judicial or amicable notice within 31st October of the year previous to that one fixed for the expiry and its extensions”. The annual lease is fixed in 1,200 lire payable to the domicile of the lessor in two instalments within 19th August and 24th December of every year.
The tenancy and management is ruled by following agreements “the earl Cesare Malvasia wants the power to can rescind this contract even before the age fixed for its expiry and its extensions, only in case of selling of the leased building and providing that the new buyer refuses to keep the Tenant Society among the tenants. Then in case that this resolution has to occur, the earl Malvasia – Tortorelli will be obliged to give notice of termination within 31st October of the year previous to that one where the contract resolution has to occur; meantime they obliged the Tenant Society to pay the amount of 1,000 (thousand) lire by way of indemnity or reference cleared every opposing exemption”.
“It remains specifically forbidden to the tenant to sublease or cede to others whether entirely or partly this tenancy without absolute and explicit written approval of the lessor… He has however the power to sublease some premises to his domestic with his family as warden of the same premises”.
“It is power of the tenant to make the gas and water duct as well to adapt the premises as he likes, but he is obliged to give written notice to the Lessor and if this last doesn’t approve them, at the end of the tenancy the Tenant is obliged to give back the same premises in the condition and form in which they lie”.
“The Tenant marquis Salina Amorini is obliged as chairman of the Hunting Club to use and delight the above-named flat as upright and good family man”.
“He will be obliged to put those shelters that the art and practice advise in order to avoid failures to the underlying premises”.
“Every year the Tenant will pay all the water consumed in his flat directly to the Society in charge for Setta water main in Bologna”.
A rich drawn map and coloured on silk is attached to the lease contract and shows us how the new seat is.
It is a “flat at the first floor to which you gain access through common stairs with other tenants and through back stairs of strict and exclusive use of the Tenant; the back stairs, starting from the arcade downstairs go upstairs till the second floor; this flat is composed of no. 9 rooms and loo and terrace at the first floor; no. 4 rooms, a corridor, a loo and a barn at the second floor to which you gain access through the second above said stairs, of no. 1 kitchen complete with sink, no. 1 room in a mezzanine located along the above mentioned stairs”. The main entrance door to the building in via Mazzini 15 has to remain open till the closing time of the Club: the closing will be carried out by the waiter of the Club providing that the arcade and the stairs are lightened by the direction. On 2nd May 1902 the count Cesare Malvasia – Tortorelli concedes a tenancy extension till 8th May of following year, date when the contract would have ceased without any advance notice.
On 27th March 1927 the plenary meeting of the members is convened: Gazzoni applies to the presents with these words: “I’m sure that the members will be glad to be convened into the meeting in the new premises of the Club. If the passage from the old to the new ones brought you any discomforts you are then rewarded by the unconfuted superiority of the new seat, by the perfect disposition of the services and by the sunlight, which has here the profusion with its shafts, to give off every angle of the stairs. Then I feel bound to thank my dear assistants before you, commander Santi, doctor Vanzini and the councillors on the whole, for the rendered work. During the extraordinary meeting of the members summoned on 17th December 1933 they voted the renewal of the lease contract of premises and things: the property raises the annual share to 30,000 lire instead of 25,350 paid till that time. The members declare themselves in the negative for the increasing but they are also disposed to take upon themselves the financial burden for the “arrangement works” of the premises in view of the forthcoming fusion with the Chess Club.
At no. 3 of the agenda there is in fact under discussion the admission of a group of people who come from the undone Chess Club. The chairman of the Hunting Club, doctor commander engineer Ugo Melloni, reveals to the meeting that the members of that club entered into negotiations with the executive in order to mediate a possible admission. After many discussions, the meeting decides that the two directions take the necessary agreements for the fusion of the two sodalities.
The conditions, taken on the nod, are following: every member of the undone Club, instead of paying the individual admission fee, is obliged to bring as “assent” to the Hunting Club, furniture, credits or cash in addition to a stamped schedule of the old direction.
The members admitted to the hunting Club are 62 and, received by a warm applause, decree in the event the fusion of the two clubs as from midnight of 15th June 1934.
Three months later the members are 311 included those ones of the undone Chess Club who bring a financial contribution surely not indifferent, in excess of 100,000 lire. The fusion makes sure that the plenary meeting of the members votes the possibility to go against the rigid rules that were unchanged since the founding.
The Club will open its sale-rooms to the families of the members twice a year for dance feasts; at this aim some premises are transformed by competent architects of that time, the biggest names of the sector, in a sole big sale-room furnished in 900s style. Among many feasts and receptions of honour those ones in honour of the duke of Genova and of Umberto di Savoia remain memorable; this last asked specifically for the chance to visit the Club premises.