Red roofs under your feet, green hills beyond your nose, blue sky on your head. That's how Bologna looks like from a tower. I love to see Bologna from Torre degli Asinelli or Torre Prendiparte, two of the most famous postcard view of the city. But there's another less famous tower that you should know about. Less people in queue and a breathless view.
San Pietro's Bell Tower and Basilica di San Luca on the hill
Most famous doesn't always mean most important. It's a common mistake to think that San Petronio Basilica in Piazza Maggiore is the cathedral of Bologna.
Burned by a fire and hit by a earthquake, San Pietro's church in Via Indipendenza is indeed the real Catholic symbol in Bologna.
Take a walk inside and stop in front of Compianto statues by Alfonso Lombardi, to compare it with the most famous one in Santa Maria della Vita.
San Pietro is also a place for music. If you're lucky to enter while pipe organ is playing, you should just sit in a bench and listen to the long notes that flow in the air.
View of Piazza Maggiore from the bell tower
The bell tower
San Pietro Cathedral has two bell towers. The oldest one of early Christian age.
The present one, that was built during XIII century around the first. About 70 meters high, it's the second higher tower of Bologna after Torre degli Asinelli.
The tower hosts 4 bells. Amongst them stands the so called "Grandma". It's the biggest bell to play "alla bolognese", so by circling it of 360° around its axis. Grandma bell weights around 100kg and it takes 23 people to play the 4 of them in a concert.
You can hear Grandma's voice only 3 times a year:
- Dec. 25th - for Christmas
- Oct 4th - Bologna's patron saint day
- On one Sunday in May - when San Luca's Virgin icon descends to the Cathedral from the hill
On those occasions the bell tower, shaken by the huge forces of the bells, bends from the basis of about 1 meter left and right. Even if you trust the skills of bolognese architects, it could be a good time to hear its music with a coffee a bit far from it.
Torre degli Azzoguidi and the two towers: Garisenda e Asinelli
Visit the tower
Entrance in Via Altabella, close to Gavina Showroom
Open on Saturdays from 2pm to 4:30pm
Tel. 051 222112
Santa Maria della Vita dome
San Pietro Cathedral and Via Galliera