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Garisenda Tower in Bologna

Photo: Giorgio Bianchi / Comune di Bologna / dpa

The Italian city of Bologna will probably have to fear for one of its landmarks for another ten years: That's how long the renovation of the leaning Garisenda Tower will drag on, said Mayor Matteo Lepore. Experts fear that the Torre della Garisenda, as it is called in Italian, could collapse.

During an on-site visit, Lepore estimated the cost of saving the 48-metre-high tower at at least 20 million euros. The building from the Middle Ages is now tilted 3.20 metres to the side. This corresponds to about four degrees. This makes it about as crooked as the world-famous Leaning Tower of Pisa.

Right next to the Garisenda Tower is the Asinelli Tower, which is much more upright despite its height.

On Wednesday afternoon, Lepore referred to the experience with the renovation of the Leaning Tower of Pisa, about 200 kilometers away: "The planning and the intervention on the Tower of Pisa took ten years. We have no indication that it will take us less time."

Course closed since October

Due to the cracks and unusual fluctuations of the Garisenda Tower, the city administration has already closed the square around the leaning towers since October. This is unlikely to change in the next few years.

For many centuries, the two so-called gender towers have shaped the image of the city in the northern Italian region of Emilia-Romagna, which today has almost 400,000 inhabitants. Seen from the air, they rise like skyscrapers from the narrow city center.

Italy's national poet Dante Alighieri wrote about the Garisenda Tower in his "Divine Comedy". The tower was built by order of a wealthy family in 1109. At that time, the wealthy classes were also concerned with building their own family tower even higher than their neighbours.

Originally, the structure was even 60 meters high. However, due to the first construction errors, it had to be lowered as early as the 14th century. Experts today cite the foundation and sinking groundwater as reasons for the increasing inclination.

Since 2018, a team of experts has been monitoring the two towers – especially the cracks in the masonry as well as fluctuations and vibrations that cannot be seen with the naked eye. The masonry has already been reinforced with an iron structure all around.