January 19, 2011

Meet me at the Towers

A stunning view of the towers against the blue Bologna sky.
Sure, everyone has heard of the leaning tower of Pisa. It bustles with tourists year-round, but who knew Bologna offered one better in the heart of town?

In the 12th century two Bolognese families decided grand towers built in their name were a sure way to would be remembered. 

It seems the towers of Garisenda and Asinelli have successfully made their mark on Bologna. As one of the city’s well-known symbols, the hard to miss duo lean and stand tall to make for
the perfect meeting spot in the center of
town. Passing shops with postcard adorned windows will
surely have the towers, maybe in their lit-up holiday glory.

Not only were the towers built to inspire postcards, but each signifies the power of the families who built them.  This is one theory of scholars as to why towers were built in the area in that time period.  The towers came in quite handy through the years in other ways as well.

The taller of the two, Asinelli, standing 97 meters, was used as a lab for scientists in the 17th century and later as a sight post in WWII. Garisenda, leaning at 48 meters, made it’s mark when Italian author Dante Aligheri mentioned it in several of his works. Keep in mind, Dante is the Shakespeare of Italy, big deal!

Tourists and Italians alike are able to pay a small fee to climb the 500 steps to the top of the Asinelli tower to get an incredible view of Bologna.

Not only is Bologna the gastronomic capital of Italy, home to the oldest university in Europe and the capital of the Emilia-Romagna region, but the city’s rich history offers a non-stop lesson on the culture. Everywhere you turn there is an opportunity to see and experience the Italy in a small, less touristy city.

Looking down the side of the Asinelli tower.
A view from the top.
                   The leaning base of Garisenda tower. 

             All photos by John Nissen-Hooper

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