In music it has been called the "Old Lady" and that's what it is, although Bologna in Italy has the gift of remaining permanently young. It has always been the centre of University life, since 1088 when the oldest university of the west was founded. The life of the city has been influenced by this presence since the Middle Ages, earning it the title of "Bologna the Learned". The city is an open book and tells its history through its streets, towers and porticos.
Bologna is an important junction for road and rail communication due to its favourable position in the Plain of the Po, between the Reno and Savena rivers and surrounded by its picturesque hills.
Old prints show Bologna as a forest of towers (they numbered more than a hundred!). The Garisenda and the Asinelli Tower, the best known of the 17 surviving ones, are the symbol of the city and have stood firm since the 12th century, in spite of their characteristic inclination. The Asinelli Tower, the highest leaning tower in Italy, reaches 90 metres, but it is the Garisenda which leans more; incomplete and 48 metres high (before the top was removed it measured 60 metres), it was so well known that even Dante Alighieri mentioned it in his Divine Comedy.