Bologna – The bell tower of San Pietro

Bologna - Climb to the bell tower of San Pietro cathedral

Among the many attractions that can be discovered in Bologna, there is one not too publicized but which turned out to be a wonderful surprise: the climb to the bell tower of the Cathedral of San Pietro.

San Pietro is the cathedral of Bologna, the first evidence of this church dates back to the 10th century, although the current appearance dates back to the restructuring of 1605.

The bell tower of San Pietro is 70 meters high and is the second tallest tower in the city, second only to the Asinelli tower.

The current bell tower has a square plan and hides inside a much older bell tower with a circular plan. It is a Ravenna bell tower probably dating back to 900 AD. Initially it was about thirty meters high then raised to forty meters and in 1200 it was incorporated in the Romanesque bell tower that can be seen today.

This particularity makes the bell tower of San Pietro unique.

Ascento to the bell tower of San Pietro

It is possible to climb to the top of the bell tower. It is accessed through a small door located in the corridor that connects the sacristy to the church.

Bologna - Campanile di San Pietro

The path that allows you to reach the bell chapel winds through the gap between the two bell towers. Going up you will have on your right the profile of the round bell tower while on your left you will have the profile of the square bell tower.

Bologna - Campanile San Pietro

The passage is quite narrow and it is not allowed to stop, a first stop is made at an intermediate level of the round bell tower where it is possible to appreciate the round bell tower from the inside.

Bologna - Campanile di San Pietro

The path we take to reach the summit is the way the donkeys used to carry the material for the construction of the external square bell tower.


At the top is the belfry with the concert of 4 bells where one of the largest bells in the city of Bologna stands out, called “the grandmother”, weighing 33 quintals. The bells are rung by the Bolognese bell ringers on special occasions: Christmas, Easter, the day of St. Peter and Paul, the first day of the year, … ..

Bologna - Campanile di San Pietro

The bell-ringer is a very dangerous profession in fact, on the bell tower, a fatal accident occurred in 1884, a 21-year-old boy lost his life overwhelmed by the largest bell and a plaque commemorates this sad event.

From the top of the bell tower you can enjoy an extraordinary landscape: a suggestive panoramic view of the city center, but also of the hills and of San Luca.

Bologna - Campanile di San Pietro

If you are in Bologna on a Saturday, do not miss this opportunity, we went up in the evening and it is wonderful to see the city all lit up but I think the climb at sunset is also very impressive.

Bell Tower of San Pietro - Practical Information

Where it is: the cathedral of San Pietro is located in the center of Bologna, in via Indipendenza 9,

When to go: it is possible to visit the bell tower only on Saturday afternoon from 14:00 to 16:30, in summer the visits also continue from 19:00 to 23:00 approximately.

Cost: the cost is 5 euros per person and the proceeds are used for the maintenance of the bell tower and the church.

Clothing: I recommend comfortable shoes with non-slip soles

How to reach the cathedral

  • by bus: almost all buses pass through the center of Bologna, you can find the lines and timetables on the website
  • by car: the cathedral is located in a limited traffic area, therefore you will have to leave your car in a parking lot outside the prohibited area. The most convenient parking is that of piazza 8 agosto.

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