'Leaning Tower of Bologna': Italian structure sealed off for safety works to begin

Garisenda Tower - also dubbed as the 'Leaning Tower of Bologna'. Credit: Michele Lapini / Contributor / Getty Images

Italian officials have started the process of sealing off a tower dubbed the 'Leaning Tower of Bologna' in an attempt to make the centuries-old structure safe.

The tower, which is also known as the Garisenda, was built in the Middle Ages, along with its taller sister - the Asinelli tower - but it has shown increasing levels of decay in recent years and is now thought to be at risk of tumbling.

Garisenda Tower, in the city of Bologna, stands at 47 metres tall and is known for the steep overhand that gives it its leaning look - caused by the sinking land and foundations on which it sits.

The tower is thought to have been leaning since 1350.

Access to the Garisenda and its sister tower was restricted on October 21 by the city's mayor for public order and safety reasons.

The structure is a centre point of Bologna's old town, and was even referred to in Canto XXXI of poet Dante's Inferno in the 1300s.

Translated into English, it reads: "Just as the Garisenda seems when seen beneath the leaning side, when clouds run past and it hangs down as if about to crash."

In the 14th Century, the tower was lowered over fears of its collapse, according to the Bologna-Modena Tourist Territory.

New monitoring of the the towers' structural integrity was carried out in 2018 by the Technical Scientific Committee, prompting the restoration work plans.

Restoration works will look to create a protective belt around the tower to contain any debris from a possible collapse, as well as limiting access to the area.

Piazza di Porta Ravegnana, a square which surrounds the tower, will have restricted access for a couple of years until the works are completed, Comune di Bologna said on its website.

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