Torre degli Asinelli (Asinelli Tower), 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. SHORT HISTORY 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 Read more [...]
The Leaning Tower of Pisa (Torre Pendente) is a tower located in the famous Piazza dei Miracoli, in Pisa. The tower is actually the bell-tower of the Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta, located nearby. The Leaning Tower of Pisa, one of the most recognizable symbols of Italy, is famous around the world due to its unintended tilt. The tilt was caused by an inadequate foundation on a ground too soft to properly support the structure’s weight. TIP: If you want to visit the tower without spending your precious time in the waiting line (which, by the way, is always there), buy your skip-the-line ticket in advance, to ensure you have a fast track access. SHORT HISTORY OF THE LEANING TOWER OF PISA The construction of the Pisa tower began on August 9, 1173. Some recent studies attribute the project to the Pisan architect Diotisalvi, who at the time was also building the Baptistery of San Giovanni. The first phase of the works was interrupted in the middle of the third floor, due to the subsidence of the land on which the bell-tower was built. The softness of the soil, made up of soft clay, is the cause of Read more [...]
Torre dei Caduti di Bergamo (Tower of the Fallen of Bergamo) is a tower in Bergamo, located in Piazza Vittorio Veneto, in the modern part of the city, Città Bassa. SHORT HISTORY After the Napoleonic occupation, the lower part of the city acquired a growing economic importance, primarily for the greater availability of building spaces. The choice of the area in which the tower was built was part of a larger urban reorganization project of the lower part of Bergamo, which became in the last centuries the true political and administrative center of the city. The tower, 45 meters high, was designed by the architect Marcello Piacentini. It was built starting from 1922, in an area known as Prato di Sant’Alessandro, which at the time hosted the annual Sant’Alessandro Fair, one of the most important and oldest in Lombardy, dating back to the 9th century. The tower is one of the most emblematic monuments of Città Bassa, built in the wake of the patriotic rhetoric following the First World War, not only in memory and honor of the fallen of Bergamo, but to enhance and consolidate unitary nationalism, as explicitly stated in the inauguration speech of Benito Mussolini on Read more [...]
Torre Apponale is a medieval tower in Riva del Garda, located in the historical center of the town, in Piazza III Novembre. The name of the tower comes from the ancient road that connected the Ponale creek with Monte Brione. SHORT HISTORY Torre Apponale was built in the 13th century by the noble Bonvicini family, with a defensive function, to protect the historical center of Riva del Garda and the town’s port. Federico Vanga, the prince-bishop of Trento, was against the construction of the tower, and ordered its demolition, but after some negotiations, the Bonvicinis ceded the property to Vanga and kept the feudal benefit. In the 16th century, the tower was raised to its current height, and became a prison. In the 1920s, Torre Apponale underwent major restorations and modifications, one of the most important being the removal of the onion-shaped roof and its replacing with a four-pitched roof. A new cycle of restorations was carried out in 2002, and since then the internal staircase of 165 steps became accessible again for tourists. ARCHITECTURE Torre Apponale has a height of 34 meters. The tower has a beautiful clock and a bronze bell which rings only on special Read more [...]
Torre Vanga is a medieval tower in Trento, located on the outskirts of the historical center of the town, about 350 meters away from Piazza del Duomo and the Cathedral of San Vigilio. SHORT HISTORY Torre Vanga was built on a pre-existing fortification by the prince-bishop Federico Vanga, in the first years of his episcopate (1209-1218). The crenellated adjacent structure, with triple lancet windows, is a later extension of the tower. A covered wooden bridge connected the structure to the opposite bank of the river, where the Abbey of San Lorenzo was located. During the revolt of 1407, the prince-bishop George of Liechtenstein was imprisoned in the tower. In the following centuries, Torre Vanga was used as a prison. The square windows date back to this period. Today, the tower is used as an exhibition venue by the MART (Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art of Trento and Roveto) and by the Superintendence for the Historical and Artistic Heritage of the Autonomous Province of Trento. Torre Vanga is also the temporary seat of the National Historical Museum of the Alpine Soldiers (Museo Storico degli Alpini). The museum introduces the visitors to the fascinating history of the elite mountain corps Read more [...]
Torre dell’Orologio (Clock Tower) is a medieval tower and, at the same time, a city gate located in Piazza IX Aprile, in Taormina. Due to its location, about halfway between Porta Messina and Porta Catania, along Corso Umberto, the tower is also known as Torre di Mezzo (Middle Tower) or Porta di Mezzo (Middle Gate). The tower actually separates the medieval part of the town from the ancient Greco-Roman part of Taormina. SHORT HISTORY Torre di Mezzo was built in the 12th century on Greco-Roman foundations. In 1676, the tower was destroyed by the French troops of Louis XIV, the Sun King. Three years later, in 1679, the tower was rebuilt, and the clock was installed. From that moment on, the tower became known as Torre dell’Orologio. The bells of the tower ring on two occasions – on the election day of the town’s mayor, and on July 9, when the patron saint of Taormina, San Pancrazio, is celebrated. HOW TO GET THERE Torre dell’Orologio is located about 450 meters away from Porta Messina and about 350 meters from Porta Catania. Because the historical center of Taormina is entirely pedestrian, you can reach the tower only on foot.
The Campanile di San Marco is the bell tower of the Cathedral of San Marco, the Cathedral of Pordenone. The bell tower is located a few meters away from the church, in Piazza San Marco, near the southern end of Corso Vittorio Emanuele II. SHORT HISTORY The construction of the bell tower was begun in 1291 and completed in 1347, up to the belfry. The following year, an earthquake caused the collapse of the four large corner capitals adorning the belfry. Until 1544, the ground floor of the bell tower was used as a prison. In 1820, an order was issued to destroy the tower for safety reasons, but fortunately the order was not carried out. In 1862, the tower was coated with iron, and a few years later, in 1888, it was completely renovated. Other consolidation works were carried out after the earthquake of 1976. ARCHITECTURE The bell tower is built entirely in terracotta, in Romanesque-Gothic style. The square body of the tower is defined by pilasters and corner pillars ending with blind round arches, up to the upper block marked by bands of rich horizontal decorations. Above the belfry, there is an octagonal cusp surmounted by Read more [...]
Torre dell’Orologio is a medieval clock tower in Padua, located between Palazzo del Capitanio and Palazzo dei Camerlenghi, in Piazza dei Signori. SHORT HISTORY The tower was built in the first half of the 14th century, as a fortified entrance to the Carrarese Royal Palace, owned by the noble family of da Carrara, Lords of Padua. However, its current appearance is due to the works began 1426 at the behest of the Captain Bartolomeo Morosini, concluded with the inauguration of the clock on the Feast of Saint Anthony from 1437. The astronomical clock that dominates the square is the oldest mechanism of its kind in the world. It is actually a reconstruction from 1436 of the clock built by Jacopo Dondi in 1344, and placed on the tower of the southern gate of the Carrarese Palace. The clock is the work of Matteo Novello and Giovanni and Gian Pietro delle Caldiere. In 1531, the nobleman Vitale Lando comissioned the large triumphal arch located at the base of the tower to the architect Giovanni Maria Falconetto. In June 2010, the monument undergone a careful restoration work that affected both the architectural structure of the tower and the mechanisms of the Read more [...]
Torre Bissara, also known as Torre di Piazza, is a medieval tower in Vicenza, about 82 meters in height, located in Piazza dei Signori, adjacent to the famous Basilica Palladiana. SHORT HISTORY The tower was built in 1174, at the behest of the Bissari family, next to their palace. Between 1211 and 1229, the Municipality of Vicenza bought both the palace and the tower. After it was spared by the terrible earthquake of January 25, 1348, it was raised towards the middle of the 15th century to its current height. Over the centuries, there were numerous interventions to maintain the stability and beauty of the tower. On March 18, 1945, the tower, together with the Palladian Basilica, was hit by an Anglo-American bombing. The top of the tower caught fire and the dome collapsed to the ground. The bells also fell, destroying the pavement of the square. In the following years, along with the Basilica, the tower was rebuilt, not without controversy concerning the form, partly different from the original one. In 2002, a radical restoration of the tower began. The intervention concerned the consolidation of the tower and the restoration of surfaces, friezes and decorations. ARCHITECTURE At Read more [...]
Torre dei Lamberti is a medieval tower in Verona, 84 meters high, located in Piazza delle Erbe, in the historical center of the city. SHORT HISTORY The tower was built by the powerful Lamberti family starting with the 11th century. The lower part of the tower, from terracotta and tuff blocks, dates back to that period. In 1140, the structure became a civic tower and the first bell, Rengo, was installed. The bell sounded to summon the Arengo (City Council) and for calling the army in an emergency. In 1272, a second bell, called Marangona, was added. The Marangona sounded a warning in the event of fire and it marked the hours of the day, thereby regulating the city life. In 1311, the third bell was installed, called Consolata. In May 1403, the lightning struck the top of the tower, and the restoration work began only in 1448, and lasted until 1464. In the same period, the tower was elevated to 84 meters. In 1779, there was the proposal to place a large clock on the tower, but the watchmaker who was comissioned to make the clock died before starting the work. Only in 1798, the count Giovanni Sagramoso Read more [...]
Torre dell’Orologio is a beautiful clock tower in Brescia, located in Piazza della Loggia, opposite Palazzo della Loggia. SHORT HISTORY The Clock Tower was built between 1540 and 1550 on a design by Lodovico Beretta, a local architect who also contributed to the construction of Palazzo della Loggia. The tower houses a complex mechanical clock, installed between 1544 and 1546 by Paolo Gennari from Rezzato, probably replacing a previous mechanism. The clock, on two different dials, marks the hours, the moon phases and the zodiac signs. ARCHITECTURE The side of the tower facing Piazza della Loggia has an astronomical quadrant and a tympanum painted by Gian Giacomo Lamberti in 1547, while the second side, which overlooks Via Beccaria, has a gilded quadrant of an unknown author. On the upper part of the tower, there are two rods and a bronze bell, and two copper automata installed in 1581, depicting two men with a hammer, known in the Brescian dialect as the Màcc de le ure (Crazy of the hours). In 1595, a long portico in white Botticino marble was built by the architect Piero Maria Bagnadore at the base of the tower. Passing under the tower through a Read more [...]
Torre Trasita is a circular tower located on a rocky cliff in Positano, between the Fornillo Beach and the Marina Grande Beach, part of the defensive system built in the Middle Ages to defend the entire Amalfi Coast against pirates. The first information about the watchtower date back to the 16th century, the period of the Viceroys of Naples. In 1817, the tower was put on sale and, starting with that time, it was privately owned. In recent years, Torre Trasita underwent various transformations, and is now a beautiful guesthouse, which features a terrace with views over the sea, town and the Marina Grande Beach. At the guesthouse, all the rooms come with a wardrobe, a flat-screen TV and a private bathroom. Every room is fitted with a kettle, while selected rooms come with a kitchen with a dishwasher, a microwave and a toaster. HOW TO GET THERE Torre Trasita is about 270 meters away from the Marina Grande Beach, and about 1 kilometer from the Sita Sud bus stop located at the croassroads of Via Cristoforo Colombo and Via Guglielmo Marconi. To find the tower on foot, use the map below.
Faro di Murano is a lighthouse located in the southern area of the Murano island, in the Venetian Lagoon. SHORT HISTORY Since the time of the Venetian Republic, there has always been a lighthouse on the island. At first, it was built as a wooden tower, on whose top a fire was lit, with the light being reflected by mirrors. A first true lighthouse was built here in 1912, a metal tower on piles which was deactivated in 1934, when the current lighthouse was erected. The current lighthouse was designed and built in Istrian stone by the engineer Mario Moro. Until the 1960s, the lighthouse worked on gas, and then it was powered by electricity. Today, the ignition is automated and, like all the lighthouses in Italy, is managed by the Italian Navy. ARCHITECTURE The current lighthouse is more exposed to the lagoon than the previous one, and was surrounded by stone boulders to protect it. In the lower part, there are two bas-reliefs, depicting two Madonnas, one located above the entrance door of the lighthouse, the other on the opposite side, towards the lagoon. Black stripes were painted in the upper part, to facilitate visibility in fog. Read more [...]
Saint Mark’s Campanile is the bell tower of the St. Mark’s Basilica, located in the beautiful St. Mark’s Square, in Venice. The bell tower is by far the most important attraction of the city and one of the most famous symbols of Italy. SHORT HISTORY On the place where the bell tower stands today, there was a watchtower or a lighthouse built in the 9th century. The structure was remodeled in the 12th century, and again in the 14th century, during which architects from Holland and France were called to reinforce the building. The tower, already seriously damaged in 1489 by lightning, which destroyed its wooden cusp, was seriously hit by an earthquake in March 1511, making it necessary to start its consolidation. The works, initiated by the architect Giorgio Spavento, were carried out under the direction of the architect Pietro Bon, and were completed on July 6, 1513, with the placement of the gilded wooden statue of the Archangel Gabriel. Over the centuries, many interventions were made to the tower, often to repair the damage caused by lightning. Due to its height and the iron structures that reinforced it, the Campanile was a natural lightning rod. Finally, in Read more [...]
Torre Truglia is a watchtower standing on a rock on the promontory of Sperlonga, built in the 16th century as part of the defense mechanism of the Tyrrhenian coast, which was designed to detect and defend against attacks from the sea. SHORT HISTORY Torre Truglia was built in 1532 on the foundation of a pre-existing Roman watchtower. Two years later, it was devastated by the Ottoman pirates of Hayreddin Barbarossa. Rebuilt in 1611, it was attacked again in 1623 by the same Turkish pirates. Between 1870 and 1969, it was used by the Guardia di Finanza. Currently, Torre Truglia belongs to the Marine Education Center of the Regional Natural Park Riviera d’Ulisse. HOW TO GET THERE Torre Truglia is about 350 meters away from the Piazza Fontana and the main bus station of the city. If you walk along the seashore, you will see it from afar.
Maurizio Tower, built in Piazza del Duomo, in Orvieto, between 1347 and 1348, is one of the oldest clock towers in Italy. Maurizio is the bronze automaton on top of the tower, which, at fixed time, swings its body and strikes the bell with its hammer. SHORT HISTORY The history of the Maurizio Tower is closely related to the history of the Orvieto Cathedral. The tower was comissioned by the Opera del Duomo, and built between 1347 and 1348, to support the worksite. The tower was built originally to be a sundial, because at the time of its construction, there was no mechanical clock available. Its role was to indicate the start and the end of the work schedule. The current clockwork mechanism dates back to the 18th century, when a countwheel was added to strike the quarters on the smaller bells. Other adjustments were made between 1860 and 1870. In 1905, the headgear of the Maurizio was replaced. On October 29, 2011, the clock tower was brought back to use, and the building has become an information point for the Duomo and the Museum System of Orvieto’s Opera del Duomo (MODO). HOW TO GET THERE Maurizio Tower Read more [...]
Torre del Moro (Tower of the Moor), originally known as Torre del Papa, is a 47 meter high tower in Orvieto, located in Corso Cavour, adjacent to Palazzo dei Sette. From the top of the tower, a bird eye’s view of the entire city below is unfolding in all its splendor. SHORT HISTORY Torre del Papa was built at the beginning of the 13th century, a period in which the urban center of Orvieto was the subject of a large renovation, and the most important buildings of the city, such as Palazzo del Popolo and the Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta, were erected. The tower, owned by the pope until the second half of the 15th century, had its name changed to Torre del Moro after Raffaele Gualterio, known as Il Moro, who also gave his name to Palazzo Gualterio, located nearby. In 1865, a water tank was placed in the tower, at the height of 18 meters. A few years later, a mechanical clock and two bells were added to the tower. One of the bells was taken from the dodecagonal tower of the Church of Sant’Andrea and the other from Palazzo del Popolo. In the 16th century, Read more [...]
Torre Caldura (Caldura Tower) is one of the coastal watch towers in Cefalù, and the most important of them, part of the immense historical and architectural heritage of Sicily. Dating back to the 16th century, Torre Caldura is, today, in a profound state of deterioration, with portions of masonry frequently collapsing. Its profile overlooking the cliff has always characterized the image of Cefalù for those coming from the east, and is now an integral part of this landscape, depicted in many paintings and photographs. HOW TO GET THERE Torre Caldura is about 3.1 kilometers away from the Cefalù Train Station, located near the Presidiana Harbour, the main port of Cefalù.
Torre Guelfa (Guelph Tower) is a tower in Pisa, located on Lungarno Ranieri Simonelli, near the Old Citadel (Cittadella Vecchia) and Ponte della Cittadella. SHORT HISTORY On this area, during medieval times, it was the Republican Arsenal, where the ships of the Marine Republic of Pisa were built, ships that contributed to the city’s rise as a Mediterranean power. At the beginning of the 15th century, the shipyard was enlarged and transformed to what will be later known as the Old Citadel, in opposition to the New Citadel (Cittadella Nuova), built in 1440 on the other side of the city. Around the same time, Torre Guelfa was built. The name of the tower was chosen in contrast to the older Ghibelline Tower (Torre Ghibellina), erected in 1290 and later destroyed. The Guelph Tower, together with the Sant’Agnese Tower (Torre di Sant’Agnese), the Canto Tower (Torre del Canto) and the Ghibelline Tower, delimited the ancient area of Terzanaia, where republican galleys were built and repaired. In 1944, during the Second World War, the whole area was badly damaged by bombing, and the citadel along with the Guelph Tower were completely destroyed, with the exception of the Republican Arsenal. In 1956, Read more [...]