The Asinelli Tower (Torre degli Asinelli), the tallest medieval leaning tower in the world, is located in Bologna, in Piazza di Porta Ravegnana, about 350 meters away from Piazza Maggiore. Together with the nearby Garisenda Tower (Torre della Garisenda), forms the architectural complex named Two Towers (Due Torri), symbol of the city of Bologna.
We do not know exactly who built the Asinelli Tower, but it seems that the tower owes its name to Gherardo Asinelli, a noble knight of the Ghibelline faction in Bologna, who began its constuction on October 11, 1109, and finished ten years later, in 1119.
At the end of the 14th century, with the decline of the Asinelli family, the tower was purchased by the Municipality of Bologna to be used as a prison and fortress. During the same period, a wooden frame was built around the tower, placed thirty meters above the ground, joined with the Garisenda Tower through a walkway. The walkway was destroyed by a fire in 1398.
Over the centuries, the Asinelli Tower was struck by lightning many times, until a lightning rod was installed in 1824.
In 1888, the engineer Alessandro Ferretti proposed to mount an elevator inside the tower to make the climb easier. The Municipality examined the project, but rejected it for fear of structural damage to the building.
In February 1902, a project was again presented to replace the stairs with an elevator, but once again the Municipality rejected the project. A third installation proposal arrived in 1932, but again the Municipality refused, as the stairs were restored a few years earlier. A final attempt was made in 1991, but this too was rejected.
The Asinelli Tower is 97.20 meters high, leans towards the west for 2.23 meters (1.3 degrees) and has a wooden staircase with 498 steps.
Since November 28, 2015, the Asinelli Tower and the nearby Garisenda Tower are illuminated by a special system of lights, which allows them to be viewed from every corner of Bologna.
HOW TO GET THERE
The Asinelli Tower is located about 1.7 kilometers away from the Bologna Centrale railway station. The closest bus stop is in Via Rizzoli, about 50 meters away, on the bus Lines 11, 14, 20 and 30.