As happened in many other Italian city-states, at the beginning of the XI century the ruling class of Ravenna began to raise numerous noble towers as a symbol of power and social prestige. One of them was Torre Civica (Municipal Tower), built in the 12th century and originally called “dei beccai” (of butchers), due to the butchers’ shops that used to stand along the bridge Ponte Marino which crossed River Padenna, the main channel flowing within the medieval walls of Ravenna.
At the end of the 13th century, all noble towers and fortilices were demolished by order of the papal rector, who wanted to establish his power over the city. Torre Civica was the only tower escaping demolition, because it had previously become property of the city. The 39-metre tower was used for centuries as a watchtower and occupied by a guard who would ring a bell in case of alarm, fire or flooding, or for the summoning of the town council. In 2000, the top of Torre Civica was removed in order to prevent the possible collapse of the structure, which is subject to a slow underground landslide and consequently to a gradual inclination, caused by its proximity to the ancient river Padenna.
Two peculiar stone fragments depicting a head inside a niche, probably of a woman, and a horseman, turning his back to her, remain at the base of the tower. Along the centuries, the bizarre position of the fragments inspired the citizens of Ravenna, who invented the saying “cercar Mariola per Ravenna” (searching for Mariola in Ravenna), meaning to look for something that is really close without finding it.
Edited by the editorial team
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Last modified date: 06/04/2017