The Two Towers are of course the most distinctive landmarks which indentifies the city of Bologna to all Italians and indeed to the World at large.
During the Middle Ages, towers were built primarily for military purposes, but also as a status symbol to indicate the wealth and power of the family that constructed it. The city was once known as `the towered` because it had so many towers and is believed to have featured over one hundred towers at it`s zenith of tower construction. From all the towers that stood in the city, two were and indeed still are the most famous and important in that they indentify Bologna to this very day. These are la Torre degli Asineli e la Torre Garisenda, they are called after the families who built them in the XII century.
Torre degli Asinelli
La Torre degli Asinelli is the highest leaning tower in Italy, it reaches a height of 100 metres and it is reckoned by experts that it was higher when it was constructed first. It features inside a staircase comprising 498 steps which was completed in 1684 A.D. Visitors may use the stairs, the bonus for completing the climb is of course the panoramic view of the city. It is well worth the effort.
Torre Garisenda is about 50 metres high today and like La Torre degli Asinelli is believed to have been much higher when first put in place. It was reduced in size during the 1300`s. There is a curious urban legend that it may be unlucky for students to climb the tower before finishing their studies. For a dilatory student to climb the tower might give an excuse for a poor mark in an exam.
Dante Alighieri saw Garisenda still intact and, in Canto XXXI of the Inferno of the Divine Comedy, compares her to Antaeus. In 1513, during some celebrations, an 8-pound cannonball was fired from Porta Maggiore which hit the Torre degli Asinelli without doing any damage. Legend has it that if a student visits the Torre degli Asinelli before receiving his degree, he will not graduate.
Visiting the Two Towers
The Torre degli Asinelli can be visited for an admission fee of €3.00 and is located in Piazza di Porta Ravegnana.
ADDRESS: Piazza di Porta Ravegnana, Bologna
From November 1st to February 29th 9.00 a.m. to 5.00 p.m.
From March 1st to March 31st 9.00 a.m. to 6.00 p.m.
From April 1st to October 31st. 9.00 a.m. to 7.00 p.m.
Your visit will last about one and a half hours