Saturday, August 9, 2014

Bologna, Italy

The conference I went to in Parma, Italy ended in the early afternoon on the last full day my co-workers and I were there, so Heather and I decided to take the train about an hour southeast to Bologna for the afternoon while Heike and Mike checked out the museums we'd already visited in Parma. We didn't get there as early as we would have liked, due to the train schedule, but we did get to see a couple of things during the few hours we were there.

Fontana di Nettuno (Fountain of Neptune)
San Petronio Basilica at Piazza Maggiore
The main thing we wanted to do was to see the two leaning towers and ascend the taller one, Asinelli Tower, for some panoramic views of the city. We did, but unfortunately, it was overcast, so the views weren't quite as good as they could have been.
Left: Garisenda Tower; Right: Asinelli Tower
Garisenda Tower

The sign says that the tower was likely raised at the end of the eleventh century (this site says 1109) and that it's the highest tower in the city (97 meters, or about 318 feet). In the thirteenth century, it belonged to the Asinelli family. The stronghold that surrounds the base was built in 1488 to house the soldiers on guard; it was later occupied by shops. On the western side is a sandstone bas-relief of St. Michael the Archangel by G.B. Gnudi (1727).

Asinelli Tower is actually the tallest leaning tower in Italy--much taller than the leaning tower of Pisa, which is about 55 meters (180 feet) tall.

Garisenda Tower was built around the same time. It is 47 meters (about 154 feet) tall and leans at a sharper angle. It is mentioned by name in Dante's "Inferno" from his Divine Comedy.

There are 498 wooden, steep, narrow steps.
View through a window while ascending

The view from the top:

There were once at least 100 towers in Bologna, but now less than 20 remain. Some of the others can be seen from Asinelli Tower.
Azzoguidi Tower in the front and the bell tower of St. Peter's Cathedral (a.k.a. Bologna Cathedral) behind it
Prendiparte Tower
Garisenda Tower is in the bottom left corner

We didn't have time to do much else after all of the walking around and going up into the tower, other than to grab a cappuccino on our way to the towers and a panino for a quick dinner on our way to the train station. There's so much more to do, see, and eat in Bologna, but it was a fun little afternoon trip, given our time constraints.

Considering I was only in Italy for about four days and three of them were conference days, I think I got a decent amount of sightseeing in, but it was a whirlwind! Italy was never really on my top 10 list of places I wanted to visit (well, I have wanted to go to Florence since I took an art and architectural history class in college), but I'd totally go back, now that I've had a taste of it. Maybe some day Ed and I can explore more of Italy together.


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