Bologna is one of my favourite cities in Italy. Its maze of picturesque streets, with their historic arcades, pastel-coloured houses, imposing churches and quaint shops, are a joy to stroll through. On one of my trips there, I was treated to stunning views of the city as the plane made its final approach into Bologna Airport. This experience inspired me to see the city from above once again – this time from the top of the Asinelli Tower, one of the famous leaning twin towers in Bologna and the tallest leaning tower in Italy.
The tallest leaning tower in Italy
In medieval times, Bologna had an imposing skyline, with more than 100 towers crowding the city centre. It’s not entirely clear why they were constructed – the obvious reason is for defensive purposes – but from the 13th century onwards, many of them were demolished whilst some of them collapsed.
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These days, there are about 20 of these medieval towers left in Bologna but the Twin Towers are the most famous. The Asinelli Tower, at a height of 97m (318ft), is the taller of the two and also holds the distinction of being the tallest leaning tower in Italy, dwarfing its more famous relative in Pisa (at 55.9m or 183ft). Built between 1109 – 19 AD (!) by the Asinelli family, the Asinelli Tower is accessible for the public.
Climbing the Asinelli Tower
I climbed the Asinelli Tower once before during my first visit to Bologna in the early-2000’s and remembered how harrowing it was. The old wooden staircase creaked continuously and various steps were slippery and/or uneven. The views though were phenomenal, and so, after my experience from the plane window, I decided to climb the tower once again.
A staircase consisting of 498 steps brings visitors to the top. My advice when you’re climbing the tower – don’t look down because this is what you’ll see:
It’s really quite incredible once you realise that you’re climbing a skyscraper that’s more than 800 years old! Once you reach the top, you’ll be rewarded with an absolutely breathtaking view, perfect for aerial photos of Bologna!
If you’re not afraid of heights, climbing the 12th century Asinelli Tower is one of the must-do’s in Bologna. You simply shouldn’t miss the panoramic views of Bologna from up there.
Read more about my experiences in the Emilia Romagna region.