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THE TWO TOWERS OF BOLOGNA: ASINELLI AND GARISENDA
Bologna City | Attractions | History
What The Eiffel Tower is to Paris, the Two Towers are to Bologna: the symbol of the city, built between 1109 and 1119, they make an odd couple.
The taller of them, the 97.2 meter high (318 feet) Asinelli, is stately and composed, rising from an imposing base, machicolated at the waist, and crenellated at the crown.
The 48 meter high (157 feet) Garisenda, in comparison, is oddly modern, a stark rectangle with an unadorned façade and buzz-cut top, the result of some 12 meters (39 feet) having been lopped off in the 14th century to alleviate the tower’s sinking. Although both towers lean, Garisenda tilts much more, as though it had grown tipsy over the centuries.
In the 12th and 13th centuries Bologna was studded with such towers, having perhaps as many as 100. Wealthy families erected them as a last-resort refuge, historians think, given that the inside is largely taken up with a staircase.
Most of Bologna’s towers fell down, burned down (often set ablaze by lightning), or were torn down. These two, standing at the node of streets that splay outward to Bologna’s old city gates, are among the last men standing.
Article by Gary Walther
Bologna for Connoisseurs - Issue 1
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