The Mysteries and Secrets of the Asinelli Tower: A Comprehensive Guide to Planning Your Visit

The Asinelli Tower, one of the most iconic symbols of Bologna, Italy, holds a fascinating history marked by legends, architectural feats, and mysteries. In this article, we delve into the secrets of the Asinelli Tower and provide a detailed guide on how to plan your visit.

The Asinelli Tower in Bologna, Italy, boasts 498 steps, making it a true test of endurance and determination. This climb is not for the faint-hearted, as the steep and narrow wooden staircases present a considerable challenge. Each step requires careful navigation, adding to the strenuous nature of the ascent. However, those who brave the climb are rewarded with a spectacular panoramic view of Bologna from the top. The sight of the city’s terracotta rooftops, historic architecture, and surrounding hills is a breathtaking reward for the effort. The Asinelli Tower, a symbol of Bologna, offers both a physical challenge and an unforgettable experience.

From the top of the Asinelli Tower, you are greeted with a stunning bird’s-eye view of Bologna’s charming landscape. The vast expanse of red-tiled rooftops stretches out below, interspersed with the spires of ancient churches and the winding streets of the historic city center. The majestic Basilica of San Petronio stands out prominently. In the distance, the rolling hills of the Emilia-Romagna countryside create a picturesque backdrop. The view also captures the blend of medieval and Renaissance architecture, providing a vivid reminder of Bologna’s rich cultural heritage. The breathtaking panorama is a photographer’s dream and a sight to behold.

The Enigmatic History of the Asinelli Tower

The Asinelli Tower, together with the Garisenda Tower, forms the famous “Two Towers” of Bologna. Erected in the early 12th century, it was initially built as a status symbol by the Asinelli family, showcasing their wealth and influence. Over the centuries, the tower has withstood earthquakes, fires, and even cannonballs—testament to its robust construction and the city’s turbulent past.

Secrets and Legends

One of the most enchanting stories about the tower is its connection to a local legend that involves the devil. It is said that the tower was constructed overnight by demonic forces, a myth that adds to the mysterious aura surrounding this medieval structure. Additionally, the tower is named after the noble Gherardo Asinelli, although various tales suggest different origins for this naming.

Another intriguing aspect of the Asinelli Tower is its lean. At 97.2 meters tall and tilting about 1.3 degrees, it is the tallest leaning medieval tower in Italy. This architectural feature not only defines the skyline of Bologna but also contributes to the numerous myths about the tower.

The Asinelli Tower in Bologna, Italy, is steeped in mystery and rich history. According to a cherished local legend, a farmer who discovered a hidden treasure with the help of his two donkeys used this newfound wealth to build the tower. This tale is woven into the fabric of Bologna’s cultural heritage, symbolizing fortune and transformation.

Further enhancing the tower’s mystical allure are the stories and uses it has accumulated over the centuries. The tower has served various strategic purposes, from military lookout in medieval times to a scientific laboratory in the 18th century, where experiments proving Earth’s rotation were conducted. This blend of practical utility and mythical origins gives the Asinelli Tower a unique place in both the skyline and the hearts of Bologna’s residents.

Visitors and students are often told to refrain from climbing the tower before their graduation, fearing it may curse their academic success. This superstition highlights the cultural depth and the playful nature of local traditions surrounding the historic site.

The Asinelli Tower is not just a structure but a gateway to the past, offering a panoramic view not only of the city but also of the layers of stories and secrets that have built up around it over nearly a millennium. As such, it remains a must-visit for those who travel to Bologna, promising a direct connection to the city’s ancient heart and vibrant history.

Scientific Revelations

The tower also played a crucial role in scientific history. In 1790, the physicist Giovanni Battista Guglielmini conducted experiments from the top of the tower to demonstrate the rotation of the Earth, marking a significant advancement in the understanding of our planet.

Planning Your Visit to the Asinelli Tower

How to Get There

Located in the heart of Bologna’s historic center, at Piazza di Porta Ravegnana, the tower is easily accessible on foot from any part of the city center. It’s a must-visit destination for its panoramic views and the unique experience of climbing its 498 wooden steps.

Tickets and Timing

Visiting the Asinelli Tower requires a bit of planning. The entrance fee is generally around 5 euros, with concessions available. It is advisable to book your tickets in advance, especially during peak tourist seasons, to avoid long waiting times.

Check this site for more info about booking and pricing.

Best Times to Visit

The best time to climb the tower is early in the morning or later in the evening to catch the sunrise or sunset. This not only helps avoid the crowds but also provides the most spectacular views of the city bathed in natural light.

Local Tips

A peculiar superstition associated with the tower suggests that students should avoid climbing to the top before graduating, as it is believed to bring bad luck in their academic endeavors. Whether you believe in superstitions or not, this adds an element of fun to the visit.

Nearby Attractions

After visiting the tower, explore other nearby historical sites such as Piazza Maggiore, the Basilica di San Petronio, and the numerous medieval streets that offer a glimpse into Bologna’s rich past. Also, consider taking a guided tour to learn more about the city’s secrets and culinary delights.


The Asinelli Tower is not just an architectural marvel but a keeper of history, myths, and a window to medieval Bologna. A visit here is a step back in time and an opportunity to experience the city from a unique perspective. With careful planning, your visit to the Asinelli Tower can be a highlight of your journey through Italy, blending historical exploration with breathtaking views.

Guardians of Bologna: The Tale of Porta Galliera and the City’s Ancient Defenses


Tucked away in the north-central parts of Italy, and buoyed by rich historic charm is the city of Bologna – a city where Medieval, Renaissance, Gothic, and Baroque epochs come to life. One of the signature characteristics of Bologna is its ancient defenses, an intricate network of walls, gateways, and fortresses that trace their origins back to the Roman era. Among these symbolic sentinels, the Porta Galliera outshines others with its prominent place in Bologna’s history.

Porta Galliera – A Historic Emblem

The Porta Galliera, or the Galliera Gate, is a bastion entrenched in deep historical roots and monumental architectural grandeur. Built in the 13th century, at the behest of Pope Clement IV, Porta Galliera is often remembered as Bologna’s northern gateway.

Today, visitors exploring Bologna’s city center would find this grand Albizzini-stone arch near the Central Station, standing defiantly amidst the urban churn. However, centuries ago, Porta Galliera was a sprawling fortress, with a multi-faceted defensive system that included a moat, a drawbridge, and even a secret tunnel that directly connected it to the Citadel.

The role of Porta Galliera was multi-dimensional. Apart from providing a strategic defense to the city, it facilitated trade and commerce by acting as a nucleus for entry and exit.

Bologna’s Weaving Ancient Defenses

Bologna’s ancient defense line was a testament to the city’s strategic importance in Italy’s heartland and an architectural marvel of its time. The city was fortified with a series of walls, ramparts, and gates, including the likes of Porta Galliera.

Initially established by the Celts in the 4th century BC, the first known defenses of Bologna were the Roman walls built around the 2nd century BC, enclosing the city within its sturdy confines. Over centuries, these fortifications evolved to consist of a series of walls, popularly known as Mura dei torresotti or Walls of Torresotti. Named after the towe-builders family of Torresotti, these walls were made out of selenite stones.

Porta Galliera was part of the impressive third ring of walls constructed between the 13th and 14th centuries. These fortifications, with their twelve imposing gates – including Porta Galliera – ensured a lasting legacy that experienced the tumult of Medieval warfare and political upheavals, yet persisted to tell the tale.

Significance and Benefits

Bologna’s ancient defenses, including the grand Porta Galliera, are significant historical landmarks, providing glimpses into the weaponry tactics, architectural wisdom, and societal dynamics of the erstwhile era. They attest to the city’s strategic importance as a militarily defended center and a hub of vibrant trade and commerce.

Additionally, these fortifications have cultural and educational relevance, serving as exemplary reminders of Bologna’s rich past. For instance, Porta Galliera’s extensive preservation was attributed to the 19th-century initiative of Count Cesare Mattei who bought the gate to prevent it from being demolished.


In Bologna’s vibrant tapestry of history, culture, and architecture, the tale of Porta Galliera and the city’s ancient defenses stand out as pivotal chapters. Not merely remnants of an era bygone, these walls are symbolic idols – they bear the imprints of countless generations, embody the spirit of the resilient city, and continue to inspire its inhabitants. As the guardians of Bologna, they weathered through time and turmoil, standing proud as an embodiment of the city’s valor, survival, and triumphant whisper of time.