Torre Degli Asinelli was built between 1109 and 1119 by the family bearing the same name and was handed over to the municipality as early as the following century. Measuring 97.20 metres in height, it has an overhang of 2.23 metres and an internal staircase containing 498 steps that was finished in 1684. The base is surrounded by a "rocchetta" (stronghold), which was built in 1488 to accommodate the soldiers standing watch. Today, underneath the arcade, some craft shops have been relocated, reminiscent of the mercantile functions carried out by the medieval "Mercato di Mezzo".
Made of masonry, similar to few other buildings, Torre Degli Asinelli (along with its leaning neighbor, Torre Garisenda ) carried out important military functions (signalling and defense) as well as representing, with their grandeur, the social prestige of families of nobility. In the late 12th century, at least one hundred towers punctuated the city’s skyline, only twenty of which survived the ravages of fires, wars and lightning strikes, and are still visible today.
This video shows the descent, top to bottom, of the dark tower with skinny steps; not even half my shoe would fit facing out on the descent. Any trip to Bologna should include this tour, very unique with expansive views of the city and outlying countryside.