Italy Le Due Torri

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Sue Wolfe

About this spot
The Leaning Tower of Pisa is not the only leaning tower in Italy. Two of the most visited towers in Bologna—the Asinelli Tower and Garisenda Tower—also have that problem. The towers are named after the families who are credited for constructing the towers between 1109 and 1119 and are two of the 20 towers that have survived through the centuries. At one time Bologna was thought to have had as many as 180 towers. As the city grew the towers were cut down, demolished or incorporated into other buildings.

The Asinelli Tower is the tallest medieval tower in the world (97.2 meters or 319 feet) and the only tower of the two you can climb. It is thought the two families had a competition on who could build the highest tower. Garisenda Tower was originally 60 meters tall but had to be shortened for fear of it collapsing due to the tilt. This tower was mentioned by Dante in the “Divine Comedy.” In case you want to compare Garisenda to Pisa, Garisenda’s incline is 4 degrees, Pisa is 3.97 degrees. At one time, the two towers were connected by wooden scaffolding placed 30 meters above the ground.

Besides signaling how wealthy the family was, the towers have had many uses—defensive fortification, a prison, scientific experiments, and a sight post during WWII. Both have survived numerous fires, lightning strikes, and earthquakes.

The two towers are recognized as the symbols of Bologna and are located in the heart of the city on the ancient Via Emilia. The intersection leads to five of the city gates located in the old ring wall.

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