Twin Towers of Italy
Natalia J. Garland
We are passing through the six-month anniversary of the
September 11th attacks. Freedom has endured the destruction.
In an attempt to fill the emotional void, what a strange
comfort to find that the Twin Towers at the World Trade Center
were not the only twin towers in the world. Although nothing
can replace the citizens who perished so needlessly, or the
Army Rangers and Marines who gave all, and although the World
Trade Center will be rebuilt someday in an altered form,
history and geography have another story to offer us. We need
to look no farther than Italy.
The city of
Bologna, Italy, has some things in common with New York City,
including twin towers. Bologna was a successful city in the
Middle Ages. Like New Yorkers and all Americans, they valued
freedom and their motto was "Libertas." The people
of Bologna rebelled against imperialism in 1114, and Emperor
Henry V had to grant them freedom in 1116. Bologna then
became a center of business and intellectual life.
at Bologna provided citizens with a new road to
success--education. The University provided an alternative to
serving the church (through the priesthood and religious
orders) or the aristocracy (through the military). The
University also had several women professors. Bologna
acquired the nickname, "La Dotta," meaning "The
Learned." Dante was a student in Bologna at the end of
the 13th century.
families of Bologna began to compete with one another in the
building of towers. The towers were used as status symbols
as well as watchtower fortifications for defense. In 1294,
with a population of about 50,000, there were almost 200
towers. Today, 20 towers have survived.
Two of these
towers are located near each other, and at one time were
connected by a bridge. The tallest tower is the Torre degli
Asinelli. It was built in 1119. In 1399, the dome fell off.
And in 1505, it was damaged by an earthquake. The tower is
322 feet high and weighs 8000 tons. The walls are 12 feet
thick at the base, and 3 feet thick at the top. It has 498
wooden steps. Next, the Torre Garisenda is 158 feet tall and
leans almost as much as the Tower of Pisa (before repairs).
It is presently 9 feet out of alignment.
have visited the towers of Bologna. Charles Dickens visited,
and Lady Morgan (an Irish author). The University continues
to attract students and the current enrollment is around
100,000. During the Communist era, however, Bologna was ruled
by Communist Party leaders and acquired another nickname,
"Bologna the Red." Despite those unfortunate years,
the city is now developing a tourist trade and the presence of
the University keeps it vital.
most of us had never experienced devastation on our homeland
before September 11, 2001. Bologna survived physical and
political hardships, and is regenerating itself into a another
season of growth. New Yorkers and all Americans will do the
same. In my own vision of freedom and success, the Twin Towers
will always stand proudly over the City's busy streets and
harbor. Beyond the shock and grief, even beyond the return
to normalcy, there is a crucial challenge that we must grasp
in order to procure "libertas" in this era of
terrorism. Constant vigilance, bureaucratic efficiency, and
reliance on a Higher Power can guide us safely to the one-year
anniversary. (Written 03/18/02 - Revised 08/01/06: bibliography available.)
Until we meet