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. 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 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 [...]
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 a few meters away. The monument, 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. SHORT HISTORY The building of the tower began on 9 August 1173. Some recent studies attribute the project to the Pisan architect Diotisalvi, who at the same time was 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 stands. The softness of the soil, made up of soft clay, is the cause of the tilt of the tower and, although to a lesser extent, of all the buildings in the square. The works resumed in 1275 under the guidance of Giovanni di Simone and Giovanni Pisano, who added another three floors to the previous building. In an attempt Read more [...]
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 Basilica Palladiana, 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 the 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 the Palazzo della Loggia. The tower houses a complex mechanical clock, installed between 1544 and 1546, 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 passage created in 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 [...]
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, originally known as Torre del Papa, is a tower 47 meters high adjacent to the Palazzo dei Sette, in Orvieto. From the top of the tower, a bird eye’s view of the entire city below is unfolding in all its splendor. SHORT HISTORY The tower was built towards the end of the 13th century, at the same time with the restoration of the existing buildings and the construction of new buildings. In the 16th century, the tower was renamed Torre del Moro, after Raffaele Gualterio, known as Il Moro, who also gave his name to Palazzo Gualterio and to the entire district. In 1865, a water tank was placed in the Torre del Moro, at the height of 18 meters. One year later, in 1866, the mechanical clock and the two bells were added to the tower. One of the bells came from Torre di Sant’Andrea and the other from Palazzo del Popolo. HOW TO GET THERE The closest bus station is Piazza Duomo, right in front of the Cathedral of Orvieto, about 300 meters away from the tower or about 4 minutes on foot. To get to the tower, you must walk on Via 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.