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Standing in the center of the Piazza di Porta Ravenna, the highest tower in Bologna, an emblematic symbol of the once "towered city," stands at 318 feet (97 meters), undisputed queen of the Bolognese rooftop panorama. Built in the 12th Century by the Asinelli family, most of the city's other Medieval structures have crumbled, but this tower's strong foundations have kept it standing. The 498 steps take you to the very top, from where you can enjoy a really incredible view. At its summit it displays the Guelf battlements.
One of the most popular historic places of worship in the city, Basilica di Santo Stefano comprises several holy buildings, built and renovated over centuries. The complex consists of: The Chiesa del Crocifisso, the Chiesa del San Sepolcro, the Chiesa dei Santi Vitale and Agricola, the Chiesa della Trinita, the Benedictine Cloisters, the Chiesetta della Madonna del Loreto (protector of aviators), the Chapel of Santa Giuliana and the Chapel of the Cross. The Romanesque cloister, with its loggia columns topped with anthropomorphic and zoomorphic capitals, is the ideal place to reflect on the beautiful mystique of this legendary place.
Via Farini is one of the main shopping streets near Piazza Maggiore. Lined with boutiques and designer stores, Via Farini is every shopaholic's dream destination. From clothing and accessories, to books, music and even food stores, all that you need can be purchased with juts one walk through this street. Be sure to bring a good amount cash or a credit card, since most of the boutiques are rather expensive.
The buildings that line the sides of this beautiful medieval piazza were all built between the 12th and 14th Centuries. The Piazza forms the heart of city and it provides a wonderful backdrop for everyday city life. The streets are full of artists, university students and families with children. When the sun is high, they move from the open areas of the square to the shade of the Basilica di San Petronio. Here they sit and witness the daily life of a city which is famous for its university, architecture, tortellini and the extraordinary vitality of the people who live there. Often you can find a crowd gathered in a circle listening to and sharing political ideas.
In 1236, the Franciscans began building the beautiful Basilica di San Francesco. The facade overlooking Piazza San Francesco has retained its Romanesque-Gothic features with a single spire. The portal is adorned with 18th-century features. Inside, the visitor will find the best of Italian-Gothic albeit with a modicum of French influence; it was the first to be built with three naves jutting out from six sections at the top of high octagonal pillars. Among the works of art kept in this holy building, there is an extraordinary altar piece from the late 14th Century by Jacobello and Pier Paolo delle Masegne.
Erected in the Baroque style by Carlo Francesco Dotti in 1741, this church is perched on top of a hill overlooking the city of Bologna. Energetic tourists and ambitious joggers make the trek of just over three and a half kilometers (two miles) up to the majestic Santuario up the long portico lined with 666 arches leading from Porta Saragozza to the sanctuary on Colle della Guardia. Built in honor of an image of the Madonna, the edifice is beautiful, both for its architecture and its exclusive view. Each May the citizens of Bologna carry the figure of the Madonna around the city in procession. People travel from all over the world to take part; it is said that doing so is of great spiritual benefit.