Cultural Travel ideasCultural Travel ideas

Discover Emilia Romagna from above – On top of Towers and Bell towers

by /// October 31, 2023
Estimated reading time: 8 minutes



Every day we tell you beauties & treasures of our Region, but how about discovering Emilia Romagna from above, climbing to the top of towers and bell towers?
Here’s a selection of places not to be missed if you love to immortalize landscapes from unique perspectives…and you’re not afraid of heights 😉
For convenience, we have divided them by provincial areas.


Dome of the Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta and Santa Giustina | Piacenza

One of the experiences not to be missed in Piacenza is climbing the dome of the Piacenza Cathedral, frescoed by Guercino.
You’ll have the opportunity to see the frescoes as close as ever before and, before going down, you can take some pictures of the square from the façade.
The visit is possible only during the weekend, with the opportunity of a combined ticket with the Kronos Museum.

Cattedrale di Piacenza, cupola del Guercino Ph. Kronos – Museo della Cattedrale di Piacenza
Dome of the Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta and Santa Giustina | Piacenza

Tower of the Visconti’s Fortress | Castell’Arquato

The Rocca Viscontea di Castell’Arquato was built in the 14th century in a dominant position, over the entire surrounding valley: from the top of the tower, which has always been an excellent observation point, you can enjoy an extraordinary view of the unusual shape of the fortress and of the surrounding valley.
To relive, even if only for a few seconds, the feeling of being catapulted on the set of “Ladyhawke”, which was partially shot here.

Keep of Vigoleno | Vernasca

In the small medieval village of Vigoleno, one of the most beautiful villages in Italy and Orange flag, you can also visit the quadrangular keep, from where you can admire the surrounding valley from the loopholes or beyond the Ghibelline battlements.

Tower of Rivalta Castle | Rivalta

In this castle, where it is said the ghost of the court cook Giuseppe is still a guest, it’s possible to visit the characteristic and elegant fifteenth-century cylindrical tower, from where you can look towards the surrounding areas, that were the scene of one of the battles of the second Punic war in which Hannibal took part.

Reggio Emilia

Tower of San Prospeto | Reggio Emilia

The bell tower of San Prospero, a valuable work of the Reggio Renaissance, is one of the symbols of the city. It is unique for its construction peculiarity (the sandstone cladding, a very common stone in the Reggio province, but not very suitable for outdoor use), the octagonal shape, and its characteristic incompleteness.
After a long period of restoration, today the tower has returned to shine: every Sunday it is possible to climb to the top and admire a unique panorama above the city.


Ghirlandina Tower | Modena

Built as a bell tower, even if it has always played an important civic function, it is the symbol of the city easily recognizable to travelers coming from any part.
With its more than 89 meters, it stands on Piazza Grande just next to the Cathedal, with which it shares the title of UNESCO Heritage.
First you should admire the exterior and then go inside where, after visiting the so-called “Stanza dei Torresani”, once inhabited by the guardians of the tower, you will be amazed by the view that is enjoyed from that height. For the visit you can choose between single ticket or single ticket that also includes the Municipal Palace Historic Rooms, the Municipal Acetaia and the Cathedral Museums.

  • Modena, view from Ghirlandina tower Ph. pibi1967
  • Modena, view of Ducal Palace from Ghirlandina tower Ph. Alberto Berselli
  • Modena, Duomo e Torre della Ghirlandina | Credit: Claudio Minghi


Asinelli Tower | Bologna – closed for works in the area until further notice.

Of the more than 100 Bologna’s medieval towers, today just over 20 of them are left, including the famous Two Towers, Garisenda and Asinelli. In the past, they had important military functions and their majesty represented the prestige of the owner’s family.
If you decide to climb to the top of the Asinelli Tower, 498 steps await you to get to an altitude of 97.2 meters. From the top terrace, you will see Bologna as the guards used to do in ancient times, and for once you will enjoy an unusual city skyline. Remember that the climb to the Tower is free if you buy the Bologna Welcome Card for your Bologna trip.

  • La città di Bologna vista dalla Torre degli Asinelli | Foto ©

Bell Tower of San Pietro Cathedral | Bologna

On Saturday, in Via Indipendenza, the Cathedral of Bologna (didn’t you know that San Petronio Basilica in the main square of the city is not the city’s Cathedral?) reserves you a special surprise: the climb to the bell tower, or better to the bell towers (the original one, and the second built around the first).
The climb takes place in the cavity along a particular spiral staircase made not by steps but by a long inclined plane and, even if challenging, it will reward you with a unique view that goes from the rooftops and towers of Bologna’s centre to the hills, where only the Asinelli dominate you: priceless if done at sunset. When on the top, a guide explains the history of the bell tower and its bells, and if you’re lucky you can also try bells ring.

Bologna, view from San Pietro bell tower Ph. Roberto Carisi
Bologna, view from San Pietro bell tower Ph. Roberto Carisi

Prendiparte Tower | Bologna

Another great opportunity is to climb to the top of the Prendiparte Tower. You will have to cross 12 rooms, one on each floor, in a vertiginous climb that slowly leads to the panoramic terrace at an altitude of 60 meters. In the Middle Ages it was the bulwark of the Prendiparte family; today the owners have destined it for curious tourists who can appreciate its uniqueness: you can also book an aperitif on the terrace, a romantic dinner, and even sleep inside it!

Clock Tower | Bologna

In Piazza maggiore, in the historic Palazzo d’Accursio – witness of events of great importance –

Terrace of San Petronio | Bologna

Once you have visited the city of Bologna, remember that among the “climbs” to do on the weekend there’s also the one to the Terrace of the Basilica of San Petronio. Access is from Piazza Galvani (in the back of the building), allowed to no more than 25 people at the same time. Access is also guaranteed for people with disabilities by lift. Once on the panoramic terrace you will have the opportunity to see Bologna from a breathtaking and charitable point of view, given that the cost of the ticket is used to finance the new restoration work. you can admire the view from the Clock Tower, which has since always (or almost) marked time in the city.
Climbing the elegant “horse stairway” to the second floor, you will reach the Accursio Tower (another name for the Clock Tower) which also offers an unforgettable experience: inside you can closely observe the functioning mechanism of the clock! An audio guide tells anecdotes about the various stages that have marked the history of the clock to date.
Reduced ticket if you have a Bologna Welcome Card.

Dome of the Balisica of San Luca | Bologna

Once you reach the sanctuary most loved by the Bologna’s people, with a walk under the long portico of the Meloncello according to the local tradition, do not miss the opportunity to visit the highest dome in Europe. Climbing the spiral staircase you will reach the top floor, from where, at a height of 42 meters, you can admire, also thanks to panoramic binoculars, the Bologna’s Hills and the historic center.


Lions’ Tower of the Este Castle | Ferrara

The Estense Castle, symbol of Ferrara, has not always existed: originally in its place, there was an ancient watchtower inserted in the defensive walls next to the Lions’ Gateway: the Lions’ Tower, around which the Castle was built in 1385. With its square plan and built in bricks, in 2012 the tower has been the symbol of the earthquake’s damages.
Today restored and secured, you can climb to admire from its banister all over Ferrara and beyond (if there’s no fog…). For the climb there’s a surcharge on the Este Castle ticket (free with MyFe Card).

Bell tower of the Pomposa Abbey | Codigoro

The Pomposa Abbey, a medieval masterpiece near the Mesola Natural Park, is one of those hidden gems of Italy.
It is said that it was here that the monk Guido d’Arezzo invented the seven musical notes.
The bell tower of the Abbey of Pomposa dates back to the year 1000 and stands for 48 meters in height, to be seen from afar from the pilgrims and wayfarers in transit from Venice to Ravenna.
Characterized by a structural lightness, thanks to the window openings, it is not always open to visitors. To take advantage of the next opening, follow the Pomposa Events Association which manages the visits.
Those who climbed up ensure that the view above the valleys of the nearby Po Delta is not to be missed!

Codigoro, Pomposa Abbey, Ph. leimmagini
Codigoro, Pomposa Abbey, Ph. leimmagini


Clock Tower | Brisighella

Starting from the famous Via degli Asini, a steep staircase with over 300 steps awaits you to reach the Clock Tower, still working and characterized by a particular 6-hour face and the ringing every quarter of an hour.
If you visit it at the right time, you will hear the tolls ring outside and resonate inside. The effort to reach the tower will be rewarded by the landscape above the town, truly breathtaking. Visits are allowed on holidays and days before public holidays and the ticket that includes the Manfrediana Fortress and the Ugonia Museum is free if you have the Romagna Visit Card.

Brisighella Clock Tower Ph. @VelvetEscape
Brisighella Clock Tower Ph. @VelvetEscape

San Michele Tower | Cervia

In the historic centre of Cervia the San Michele Tower stands out since 1691, when it was built to defend the city from Turks and Saracens. With a square shape and a height of 22.5 mt, the tower was a real fortress, always defending the city and the salt, white gold of the town. Today it houses the tourist information office and the panoramic room on the top floor is accessible only for exhibitions or special events.

Cervia (RA), San Michele Tower Ph. Gianmarco Guidi
Cervia (RA), San Michele Tower Ph. Gianmarco Guidi

Oriolo dei fichi Tower | Faenza

The Oriolo dei fichi Tower is what remains of the ancient fortified tower that belonged to the Manfredi family in the fifteenth century. On the sixth floor of this 17 mt high tower, with an irregular hexagonal shape, you will find a large terrace with a turret from which you can enjoy a beautiful view that goes from the Apennines to the Romagna Riviera, including Faenza, Forlì, Bertinoro and Ravenna.


Bell tower of the San Mercuriale Abbey | Forlì

Among the tallest bell towers of Italy, thanks to its more than 70 meters, the bell tower is placed on the right side of the San Mercuriale Abbey, gradually shrinking towards the summit. At the time of its construction (1178-1180), it was considered one of the most admirable wonders of the Kingdom of Italy, becoming the archetype of the bell tower par excellence, inspiring many others including the San Marco bell tower in Venice.
To climb to the top – 270 steps in total – you will have to wait for some celebrations like Christmas, Easter, the Feast of the Madonna del Fuoco (February 4th) and the Feast of San Mercuriale (October 26th).

Forlì, Saffi Square with San Mercuriale Abbey Ph. @fabio33
Forlì, Saffi Square with San Mercuriale Abbey Ph. @fabio33


Civic Tower | San Leo

The bell tower built around the 12th century directly above the rock is an emblematic example of the Romanesque style. It is located just behind the Cathedral of San Leone and only after its construction has been transformed into the bell tower of the church.
From its top you can dominate the village and the surrounding valley; the landscape that can be admired is really evocative, but it is open to the public only during some holidays and events.

San Leo (Rimini)
San Leo (Rimini) | Photo ©hotelmonica

Since the list is the result of our research and may not be exhaustive, if you know or have visited other places from where we can discover Emilia Romagna from above, we invite you to signal them with a comment (preferably accompanied by a photo). Thank you!


Elisa Mazzini

Social Media Manager for @inEmiliaRomagna and full-time mom.

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