The Other Leaning Tower of Italy

The most famous tilting tower in the world might be the Leaning Tower of Pisa. The 8-storey tower has been tipping now for 840 years and thousands have flocked to see its faulty angle ever since, but do you know about the other leaning tower of Italy?

Rivalling Pisa’s tower are the leaning towers of Bologna. The Two Towers, or Due Torri, were built in the 12th century and they’ve been teetering ever since. Although the Garisenda Tower is the shorter of the two, it never used to be. In the 14th century, the top of it was cut off to keep it safe for passersby but its steep lean makes it too dangerous to climb.

The Asinelli Tower slants at just 4 degrees less than the Leaning Tower of Pisa. It stands at 97 metres high making it the tallest tower in Italy with the best bird’s eye view of the red city.

The towers leaning inwards toward each other


A tall, old, gravity-defying structure with a view? Challenge accepted! I decided to make my way up! While Pisa’s tower costs €18 to climb, needs a reservation a month in advance, and a has queue of tourists way too long for my patience, the Asinelli Tower is much more traveller-friendly. Only €3, no booking, and rarely a line up! The perks did have a down side – I was about to take on 498 teensy up the spiralling stairwell and 15 minutes of continual dizziness! One climber behind me attempted to count each step! (Either he thought he was getting ripped off by some false marketing promise or he justed wanted to make sure he got his 3 euros worth?) Personally, I had to stop every few minutes just to catch my own breath and keep my head from spinning!

No white marble stairs here. Old wooden steps in the Asinelli Tower


Realizing I need to pace myself


Despite it all, once you do get to the top, the panoramic view overlooking the city of Bologna is absolutely stunning and well worth the hard work!

Bologna the “red” city


Trademark terracotta rooftops in Bologna


History says Bologna’s towers served as a defense against potential threat at the time. Even in the most recent Second World War these towers helped the military keep an eye out for bomb strikes. Like many structures in Italy, Bologna’s towers were also a powerful symbol by the city’s two richest families who wanted to showcase their wealth and prestige. The wealthiest people always built themselves impressive structures and competed with each other for who could build the tallest tower. By the 13th century, competition was fierce – about 180 towers popped up all over Bologna.

Standing more than 300 feet above gazing over the horizon, I tried to imagine a city in the Middle Ages looking like a crowded Monopoly board.

More than 180 towers once blanketed this city


The dome of San Bartolomeo


I could live in one of those red houses!


Today, less than 20 towers still exist in Bologna. While some had collapsed, most towers were demolished for safety reasons. The last one was taken down in 1917 and the Asinelli is the only one you can ascend for a view.

Don’t climb this tower if

You’re a student. Although Bologna is a university town, students (and superstition) say if you climb the tower you’ll never graduate.

Have bad shoes. The steps are steep, wooden, and slippery. Grab shoes with good grip. You’ll definitely feel the tilt the higher you get.

How to get here: Piazza di Porta Ravegnana

Cost: €3

Tip: If you get lost weaving through Bologna’s winding roads, use the towers as a meeting point or to orient yourself.


Thank you to Emilia Romagna Tourism for hosting me during the BlogVille project. Although I was a guest, all views and opinions expressed are my own.

More in this series:

A First Taste of Local Life in Bologna
The Cheesiest Place on Earth
To Imola with Wine
The Medieval Town of Ferrara
Porticos of Bologna
Instagramming Bologna
The Culture Behind Italian Gelato
The Oldest Wine Bar in the World
Video: Making Gelato at Gelato University