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Saving Bologna’s medieval towers

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The city of Bologna is apparently getting serious about preserving two of its remaining medieval towers, beautiful and important landmarks that date back to the early 12th century.

A team of Italian experts has said the towers, located right in heavy traffic through Bologna’s historic centre, are in poor health and need the same protection from man-made threats as the Leaning Tower of Pisa enjoys, according to news wire ANSA.

The medieval structures both of which lean, have been weakened by centuries of tremors and decades of heavy traffic, according to a study by Italy's National Institute of Geophysics and Vulcanology (Istituto Nazionale di Geofisica e Vulcanologia).

''The results show several zones affected by significant deformations and inclination changes,'' says the study published in the Journal of Cultural Heritage on the Asinelli and Garisenda towers and quoted by ANSA.

Enzo Boschi, the head of the team that used laser scanning to verify the monuments' health, says that this means the city should seal the zone off to traffic and drop plans to run a new tram line in the area.

''All traffic (should be stopped), like in Pisa, where you cannot even get close to the Leaning Tower in a taxi,'' said Boschi.

''Today, two buses pass by the tower every minute from morning to night, three a minute in the rush hour.”

The Asinelli is the taller of the famous pair, standing at about 97 metres. It’s the only one that’s open to the public to climb, which I did two years ago. The views from up there are spectacular!

The Garisenda, which is about 48 metres tall, has a much sharper lean and is mentioned in Dante's Divine Comedy.

Today, numerous smaller towers still dot Bologna, but the two main towers in the historic centre remain crucial as symbols of the city.

The experts’ opinions about preserving the two towers won qualified support from Fabio Garagnani, a Bologna MP with Premier Silvio Berlusconi's People of Freedom party. ''We cannot fail to agree about the need to keep away heavy vehicles and, therefore, the new tram,'' Garagnani said.

''We don't agree with the area being closed off to traffic completely. In the meantime I've presented a question in parliament to stop the project for the new tram''.

Comments (9)

Kathy (Trekcapri):

Hi Sandra, two very beautiful photos. It would be a shame not to perserve these two towers. I do hope that they do something and fast. A decision to stop the planned Tram project would be a good start.

Thanks so much for sharing.

Brad'll Do It:

We're leading a small group tour in Bologna in May. I guess we'd better include the option of climbing to the top of the tower before there's no longer an option!

This situation will make great fodder for discussion, and thanks to you, Sandra, make us look like brilliant Bolognese experts.

Where did you wander to even find this info?

sandrac:

I agree, Kathy -- it sounds as if the situation is getting very dire!

Hi Brad, I think your group is going to be very very fortunate to have such great (and knowledgable) experts as you and Palma!

Very interesting. Glad they've got the ball rolling on this. Did you actually climb it or was there an elevator?

sandrac:

Annie, I'm not sure they even have an elevator!I climbed -- it wasn't too difficult, partly because the stairs followed the four walls of the tower, kind of like a square, so there was a large and long landing at each level where you could pause and catch your breath!

Famira:

Totally off topic here, but Republic Day this year may cause more disruption than in other years.

They didn't get around to declaring the one-off national holiday on March 17 to celebrate the Unity of Italy until very late, too late to invite heads of state. So they've invited them for Republic Day instead. If any important ones accept, security could cause all kinds of disruption.

I hope that they manage to stabalize these towers - they are such an iconic image of the city! Like you I climed Asinelli and was gobsmacked (there you go) by the views (to say nothing of the damn stairs).

Lovely post Sandra and even lovlier photos.

There is no elevator in the tower and it is quite a climb. Some of the treads are a little wonky, it can be slightly scary. I would not recommend it to anyone who is claustrophobic. Great views from the top though!

Chiocciola:

Interesting, I hope they are able to save them. I have often thought about the buses that drive by so fast all day long. Personally I hope they close the center to traffic, it is so much nicer for everybody.

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