The two towers, both of them leaning, are the symbol and the emblems of Bologna and they have a names of course. The taller one is called Torre Asinelli while the smaller but more leaning tower is called Torre Garisenda. The names derive from the noble families which are traditionally credited for their construction between 1109 and 1119. There is scarcity of the written documents from that period and it makes this story rather uncertain. The name of Asinelli Family is documented for the first time only in 1185 and it is almost 70 years after the presumed constraction of the tower which is attributed to them.
The current height of Torre Asinelli is 98 meters. In the 14th century it passes to a property of the city and was used as prisonand and stronghold. At that same period the wooden construction was added around the tower, at the height of 30m above ground, which was connected with an arial footbridge to the Garisenda tower, but later destroyedina fire of 1398.
Torre Garisenda today has a height of 48m, although initially it was approximately 60m high but had to be lowered in the 14th century due to a yielding of the ground which left slanting and dangerous. In the early 15th century the tower was bought by the "Arte dei Drappieri", which remained the sole owner until the Garisenda became municipal property, at the end of the 19th century.
According to the local legend, both towers were constructed as a result of the competition between two Bolognese noble families. Since Torre Garisenda wasn't solidly supported and for fear of the tower collapsing, people decided to reduce its length from 60m to a little more than 48m. As a consequence, Asinelli Family won the competition.
The most notable point of interest about "Le Due Torri" is that they both lean, the Garisenda very noticeably to the point where the building is closed to the public. Torre Asinelli can be climbed via 500 steps to highlight a terracotta red fabric rooftops of Bologna. The top two floors of the tower, as already said, were once a prison, cruelly locked away but with the staggering view of the prisoners home city.
The Torresotto, or "serraglio", di Porta Nuova belongs to the second set (cerchia) of city walls called "Cerchia di torresotti" or improperly, "Cerchia del Mille". The tower is located at the intersection of via Porta Nuova and via M.Finzi,overlooking Piazza Malpighi. It was once a gate-entrance into the city area protected by the 12th century fortified walls. The construction of a "Cerhia del Mille" dates back to the years between 1176 and 1192 (or 1208 according to other sources), corrisponding with the conflict between city of Bologna and Federico Barbarossa. (After conquisting Bologna, in 1163, Barbarossa ordered semi-destruction of the city walls and ditches.) This second wall was 3,5 km long and had 18 gates, from which only four survived incorporated isnide of the inhabited areas.
There excist a fine storry-legend connected to Torresotto di Porta Nuova. In 1233 in Bologna was established the tribunal of the inquisition, at the convent of San Domenico, and was one of the most violent, especially in the witch hunt. The local women convicted of witchcraft were mostly astrologers, herbalists or prostitutes. Most famous witch of Bologna Gentile Budrioli, the so-called "strega enormissima" (the hugest witch), was the wife of an notary and lived in Torresotto Porta Nuova..........to be continued
La Coroncina is small general store in Via dell'Independenza 3, lodged in the base of Torre degli Scappi. There excist two local legends about its name Scappi and both versions are connected with Re Enzo. The tower gets it name from an incident when the imprisoned Re Enzo (King Renzo), son of the Holy Roman Emperor Federico I, tried to escape Bologna in a laundry basket. There was a woman, looking down from the tower, who saw his recognizable blonde hair sticking up and shouted "scappi" (he flees).
For the better understanding of this storry, Re Enzo was imprisoned in the homonymous palace which is located right opposite of Torre degli Scappi.
But this legend has another version which in my opinion is more probable. Local legend talks about Enzo's son he had from a paesant Lucia di Viadagola. (In his will, however, Re Enzo mentioned only three daughters). According to that legend, whenever his son was passing by the palace, Enzo was telling him up from the window "amore mio ben ti voglio" - meaning "my love I love you so very much". The locals gave his son a nickname, after that sentence, calling hom Bentivoglio and he would be the ancestor of the Bentivoglio family, later on the trulers of Bologna.
Torre dei Galluzzi was built in 1257 and therefore considered as modern tower, compering it with other medieval city towers left in town. The tower used to be taller than its current 30 meters height. The original entrance was on a floor about 10 meters above ground level, and the Galluzzi family used to enter it through a window located halfway up the tower using mobile wooden bridges that stuck out from their nearby houses. This type of tower is called consortium tower or "turris maior", and was above all built for military and defense purpose. Actually, the tower was an affirmation of the so-called "consorteria", groups of wealthy families linked by clan ties who built fortified neighbourhoods dominated by a protective tower. The thickness of the tower's walls, sometimes more than three metres, and its remarkable heights served to keep a watchful eye over the surrounding houses.
The doorway in a ground level of the tower, where today is an library, isn't original construction, it was opened only in a later period.
Galluzzo or Galluzzi was important Guelphs supporting family of Bologna, Ronaldino Galluzzi was three times the consul of the city. The family waged a fierce clashes with supporters of Ghibellini party, especially against the hated Carbonesi family.It was, however, twist of faith that Galluzzi girl and Carbonesi boy fell in love with each other and this love crowned in a secret marriage. When her brothers found out about this marriage, they brutaly killed a young couple, and in order to hide the murder they simulated a suicide of a sister who was found hanged.
Torre degli Asinelli (Tower of the Asinelli) and Torre dei Garisenda (Tower of the Garisenda) - Piazza di Porta Ravegnana. The main symbols of Bologna. Torre degli Asinelli (built between 1109 and 1119) is 97.20 metres tall (330 feet), with 498 steps and an incline of 1.3 meters (4 feet). Torre dei Garisenda (closed to the public)is 47 m (162 feet) tall and has a lean of over 3m (10 feet). Both were built in the 12th century. Open: daily, 09:00 to 18:00 €3 to climb Torre degli Asinelli. -- Wikitravel http://wikitravel.org/en/Bologna
The Torre degli Asinelli lay next to the Torre di Gariselda and with its 98 meter height it is the taller of all Bologna towers.
Climbing will be cheap in money (3-4 euros) but expensive in sweat drops. To reach the top you will walk over 498 steps!! The staircase id first stone and circular but, right after the ticket boot became a wooden structure. It is actually amazing to check out how it is put together.
Some section of the stair are quite steep and it is highly recommended to be very careful.
The visit is not advisable to people with limited walking ability and to whom have fear of the height.
The big effort will be rewarded by the wonder of the wooden structure and by the great view over the historical center, dotted by the shorter towers.
“Bologna is a lot of things, my friend. It's always been the center of free thought and intellectual activity in Italy, thus its first nickname la dotta. Then it became the home of the political left and received its second nickname, la rossa, the red.”
— from “The Broker” by John Grisham
From the top of Torre degli Asinelli it is easy to see why Bologna is known as la rossa, the red. It had this nickname of the red long before it became the center of Italian Communism. Bologna has always been a city with a liberal outlook on life.
Its red tiled rooves of the historic center is why it was originally called la rossa. A sea of red terra cotta stretched out before us in all directions. We could see the Basilica of San Petronio (see photo #3).
“Tomorrow I set off for Bologna. I write to you with thunder, lightning, &c., and all the winds of heaven whistling through my hair, and the racket of preparation to boot.”
— from a letter dated 19.August.1819 written by Lord Byron to John Murray
Built in the 12th century by Guelph sympathizers, the Prendiparte family, this was a bastion against enemy attacks. Today, Torre Prendiparte, or the Crowned Tower, measures 197 feet, which make it be second in height only to the Asinelli Tower. Thanks to a recent renovations, its twelve floors are perfectly accessible. The Tower is, together with other surviving towers, among the oldest buildings in the city.
Thanks to the well-laid old stones by skilled craftsmen, the selenite base and the typical “bolognese” bricks, the tower takes on the appearance of an impregnable medieval fort. In 1700, Torre Prendiparte was used by the Church as a prison. Today, it is partly used as bed & breakfast; partly as a venue for chamber music performances; and partly as an event venue.
San Petronio was of noble Roman birth; he became a convert to Christianity, going on to become a priest and then bishop of Bologna during the fifth century. He is a patron saint of the Bologna and is often pictured holding in his hand a model of the many-towered town. As bishop of Bologna, he built the Church of Santo Stefano.(died ca. 450 AD)
In AD 432 he was elected bishop of Bologna, where he founded and built the Church of Santo Stefano, following the building lay out of the shrines at the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem.
Following the discovery of Our Saint’s relics in 1141, a church was built in his honor at Bologna; in 1390 the Basilica di San Petronio was begun.
The feast day of San Petronio is celebrated on the 4th of October.
On Our Saint’s feast day in 2001, the white marble sculpture of San Petronio, made by the sculptor Gabriele Brunelli in 1683, was moved to its original location, Piazza Ravegnana, in front of due torri. The central location of Piazza Ravegnana is a good one for this image of San Petronio to bring good luck and to protect Bologna’s citizens and its visitors. Since 1871 it had been kept in a chapel of Basilica di San Petronio.
“The medieval nobles built towers just for pure swank, to see who should have the tallest till a town like Bologna must have bristled like a porcupine in a rage.”
— D.H. Lawrence (1885-1930)
Torre Asinelli was originally built to a height of 230 feet; and was later raised to the current 330 feet. In the 14th century the tower became the property of the city, which used it as prison and small stronghold. While the city owned the tower a wooden platform was added around the tower at a height of 98 feet above the ground; this was connected with a footbridge to Torre Garisenda. Giovanni Visconti, Duke of Milan, had this alteration made because he wanted to use it to control the rough and tumble Mercato di Mezzo, what is today via Rizzoli) and crush any threats to his rule. The Visconti had become the rulers of Bologna after the decline of the Signoria of the Pepoli family, but were unpopular in the city.
Severe damage has been caused by lightning strikes, often resulting in small fires and minor structural damage; in 1824 a lightning rod was installed. The tower survived, however, at least two known major fires. The first one, in 1185, was caused by arson and the second one, in 1398, destroyed the wooden platform and footbridge that had been added.
Torre Asinelli has been helpful in gathering scientific data. In 1640 Giovanni Battista Riccioli and, in the following century, Giovanni Battista Guglielmini used the tower to study how heavy objects move through space and to study the earth’s rotation. Between 1943 and 1945, during the Second World War, the tower was used as a sight post. During bombing raids, volunteers took up posts at the top of the tower to direct rescue operations to places hit by Allied bombs. In the television age, RAI installed a relay antenna at the tower’s top.
“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,
thus did Antaeus seem to my fixed gaze
as I watched him bend.”
— from “The Divine Comedy, Inferno” by Dante Alighieri (1265-1321)
LIKE A LEANING GIANT Virgil and Dante encountered the giant Antaeus, frozen in ice, at the pit of Hell. Dante compares gazing up at Antaeus to standing on the leaning side of Torre Garisenda; like the giant, it appears to be falling. Antaeus, the giant son of Poseidon, was blessed with superhuman strength while in contact with the ground, but became weak as water when in the air.
Torre Garisenda leans out more than 10 feet from its base. Torre Garisenda’s construction is attributed to Filippo and Ottone Garisenda in the early part of the 12th century. It was originally built to a height of 197 feet. The tower was reduced to 162 feet, its current height, in the 14th century because there was a risk it would collapse.
The lean of the tower impressed Dante Alighieri enough to mention the tower in “The Divine Comedy.” Dante spent a short period of his exile from Florence in Bologna, probably during 1304, that the tower first came to his attention.
You can see the above quote in Italian, engraved on a plaque at the base of the tower. The impressive ashlar base was added at the end of the 19th century.
Over the centuries, Torre Garisenda was privately owned by different families. In 1902, the tower was bought for $2,000 from the Marquis di Malvezzi by the composer Raimondo Franchetti. Both towers are now owned by the city of Bologna. Unlike Torre Asinelli, Torre Garisenda is not open to the public.
“We arrived at Bologna after a very hot drive, and absolutely like millers with dust, which obliged us immediately to provide ourselves with blouses. Bologna is the most important city in Northern Italy, and second only to Rome in the Papal States, with which it has most reluctantly been associated, and from which it has made different unsuccessful efforts for disjunction. I was struck by observing the open declaration on its institutions, by the inscriptions of “Felicitas Publico, Libertas” “The public happiness, liberty.”
— from “Memoir Of James Ewing of Strathlever” 1866 by Macintosh Mackay
Bologna once had more than 150 towers, built by the feuding nobility as homes and defensive positions. Today 20 towers remain, including Torre Garisenda, 162 feet tall and Torre degli Asenelli, 330 feet tall. Due torri, the two towers, both of which lean, are the symbol of the city. Stylized versions of the towers form the municipality’s police insignia.
The taller tower is called Torre degli Asenelli while the smaller but more leaning tower is called Torre Garisenda. Their names derive from the families who are built them between 1109 and 1119.
Between the 12th and the 13th century, the number of towers in the city was 180. The richest families used them for offensive/defensive purposes. During the 13th century, many towers were taken down, and others fell down on their own. The remaining towers were used as prisons, shops or residences. In 1917, the Artenisi Tower and the Riccadonna Tower at the Mercato di Mezzo were demolished.
Serfs were used to build these towers. It could take between three and 10 years to build a tower of 200 feet. Each tower was supported by a foundation between 16 and 33 feet deep, reinforced by supports drove into the ground and covered with stones and lime. A tower’s base was made of selenite stone. The walls became thinner and lighter the higher the structure grew higher, and were created with a thick inner wall and a thinner outer wall, where the gap was filled with stones and mortar.
Since all I did when I visited was to gawk at them, I took a quick look at Wikipedia to see what detail I'd missed. Here's what I learned there (edited and paraphrased): Bologna's two leaning towers are located at the intersection of the roads that lead to the five gates of the old ring wall (mura dei torresotti). Built between 1109 and 1119, their names are derived from the families who ostensibly constructed them. The taller, the Asinelli tower, is about 320 feet. From the thirteenth century, it was used by the city as a prison and small stronghold. During this period a wooden construction was added around the tower at the 100' height, which was connected with an aerial footbridge (later destroyed during a fire in 1398) to the smaller Garisenda Tower, roughly half the Asinelli's height and which slants more. The Garisenda actually lost almost 50' during the fourteenth century because as the ground yielded, it began to lean precipitously.
The Asinelli Tower was used by the scientists Giovanni Battista Riccioli (in 1640) and Giovanni Battista Guglielmini (in the following century) for experiments to study the motion of heavy bodies and the earth rotation. The Garisenda Tower was cited several times by Dante in the Divine Comedy and the The Rime (a confirmation of his stay in Bologna). The Two Towers have also been subject of an homonymous poem by Giosuè Carducci as part of the Barbarian Odes.
You can climb the 500 steps to the top of the Asinelli Tower daily between 9:00 AM - 5:00 PM for a superb view over the city. At three euros, it is a bargain!
Also known as la Torre Altabella, la Torre Azzoguidi is Bologna's second highest tower, rising 61 metres. It is said to be perfectly vertical, unlike most of the other towers in the city. It was built in the 12th century by the Azzoguidi, a prominent Guelph family from Bologna, who once possessed another tower in Bologna that did not survive the test of time. Only fragments of it remain on Via Oberdan. La Torre Azzoguidi, though, has survived intact and is located on Via Altabella, right behind la Cattedrale di San Pietro. Nowadays, a jewellery shop occupies the ground floor of the tower.
Bologna's most famous building are probably these twin tower, taller and more impressive than the ones in San Gimignano. The taller one, the Asinelli Tower, stands 97 meters (almost 300 feet) high. It was begun in 1109. It was used as a prison in the 14th century.
The Garisenda Tower is 47 meters high. Built about the same time as its neighbor, it had to be shortened for safety reasons.