My week in Bologna in June flew by -- a week sounds like a good chunk of time, but there is a lot to see and do (and eat and drink) in Bologna!
I had a fabulous walking tour a few days after I arrived, which I arranged through the local tourism office. The rate was a mere 13 euro for two hours, and my guide Emilia was so knowledgeable and enthusiastic that we walked for far longer than that. Emilia really helped me appreciate Bologna!
High on my to-do list when I arrived was to climb the Asinelli tower, which fellow blogger Girasoli has raved about -- with good cause. Girasoli has just arrived back in Bologna and I'm confident that before too long, she'll be climbing up the Asinelli tower again herself!
During our tour, Emilia explained Bologna's long history and development, including its famous towers that in medieval times numbered close to 200 and were quite a status symbol as well as offering protection in uncertain times. However, city fathers finally put an end to the tower-building craze and forced the demolition of most.
Today, numerous smaller towers still dot Bologna, but the two main towers in the historic centre remain crucial as symbols of the city. The taller is the Asinelli while the smaller tower (which is leaning at quite an alarming angle and is therefore inaccessible) is called the Garisenda.
The climb wasn't too difficult, 500 steps up a creaking wooden staircase that followed the inside of the tower walls all the way up. But from the top, the views over nearby domes and chapels as well as more distant vistas were fantastic!