The medieval version of skyscrapers are an impressive sight, especially in Bologna. While San Gimignano in Tuscany has a compact center bristling with towers to give an idea of what a city rich in them looked like, Bologna holds the claim to fame with the tallest, and the most badly leaning. The Two Towers define Bologna's contemporary skyline and make an impressive duo. They are two of the remaining 20 or so towers, but it is believed that there were once 150 or more that cluttered Bologna's city center, status symbols of the wealthy families that also served defensive purposes. Some had been connected by arches and suspended walkways.

The taller of the two that you see so prominently is the Torre Asinelli, reaching up to a soaring 97 meters (300 feet), an impressive feat for the 1100s, with the stone construction taking 7 years to complete. You can pay €3 for the pleasure (or pain!) of climbing the 498 steps in the internal staircase to reach the top, where you'll have beautiful views to soothe your aching legs. Its neighbor, the Torre Garisenda, is nearly half its height at 49 meters (160 feet) but leans perilously with dramatic effect. The two seem to slant towards each other, and Dante mentioned the Garisenda for its leaning state.

You'll not be able to avoid passing in the shadow of these distinctive landmarks while you're in Bologna.

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