Chapter 3 of Bologna: around the Two Towers

‘As when one sees the tower called Garisenda from underneath its leaning side, and then a cloud passes over and it seems to lean the more’ – Dante Alighieri, Divine Comedy, Inferno, XXXI.

My account of Bologna is almost finished​ reader (or not, I don’t actually know)! Do not leave without seeing the biggest attractions of Bologna (just my opinion, but well….it is really!) Here is the square where you can find it:

I present to you the torri Garisenda and degli Asinelli (‘torri’ means ‘towers’). They are called the Due Torri, the Two Towers (really original considering there are actually two towers). Both names derived from two very affluent families of Bologna, the Garisendas and the Asinellis. For more clarity, I am going to call one ‘Garisenda’ and the other one ‘Asinelli’, okay? Can you guess which is which? 

No, you probably can’t, and you probably don’t care! The smallest and most tower-of-Pisa-like tower is Garisenda. You will have guessed by now that the highest one is Asinelli. They were both built around the beginning of the 12th century. Asinelli is 97 meters and is the highest tower in Bologna. You can visit it and see the panoramic view from the top. Garisenda should have been 60 meters tall but was reduced later on due to the fear that it would collapse. Indeed, during its building phase, the ground moved and provoked a lean of the tower.

No need to say (but I am going to say it anyway, I don’t care) that you must be at a good distance to take a picture. The reason for such impressive towers has not been found. At the time, it was fashionable for a family to build a tower which would bear the second name. It was a sign of power, wealth and presence within the city. The higher, the better. Another reason for the building of towers was defense. It could have been a way to prevent invasions from neighbouring provinces. Anyway, the real motive is not asserted.

When you are on the square of the towers, you can see a church behind them (it is Santi Bartolomeo e Gaetano) If you choose to go right, there is the Palazzo della Mercanzia (the Palace of the Merchandise) which is today the Chamber of Commerce and Agriculture. In ancient times, it was the customs’ Palace.

If you choose to go straight, you might want to know that there is a strange place called la Corte Isolani. It is like a small shopping centre inside a very old building. This is so atypic that you need to see it!

If you go through it, you will find yourself on la Piazza San Stefano, a nice and quiet square where you can visit the Basilica of Saint Stephen.

Basta! This was Bologna. Keep in mind that I did not see everything. I was there for just a few hours. You can actually have a good glimpse of the city in one day. Everything is pretty centralised. You can also find churches and basilicas around the city centre. I did not see them all. You can also go to the north-east part of the city and have a look at the University of Bologna which is grand (apparently).

Keep walking,

Best wishes,

I M Gullivering.


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