The Leaning Tower of Pisa is back to its dazzling white best and finally free of unsightly scaffolding for the joy of Easter visitors to one of Italy’s most-loved attractions.
The last of the scaffolding used for a 20-year facelift came down this week and the once-toppling marble giant is “safe for years to come,” officials said.
After a visit from Italy’s public works chief, Francesco Karrer, experts said it was “healthier than ever” and showed no signs of tilting any farther.
The tower was saved from toppling in a decade-long engineering project in the 1990s, reopening to the public in December 2001.
The reopening was made possible thanks to a 27-million-euro project – involving steel girdles, lead weights, and a heap of digging – that straightened the tower by 40cm, hauling it back to the position it had in the mid-19th century. Before the efforts to fix the lean, the eight-storey tower was adding an average of 1mm a year to its 4.5-metre lean out of the perpendicular.
The tower was begun in 1174 but was only completed in 1350, when its tilt was already about half what it is today.
Graham Spicer is a writer, director and photographer in Milan, blogging (under the name ‘Gramilano’) about dance, opera, music and photography for people “who are a bit like me and like some of the things I like”. He was a regular columnist for Opera Now magazine and wrote for the BBC until transferring to Italy.
His scribblings have appeared in various publications from Woman’s Weekly to Gay Times, and he wrote the ‘Danza in Italia’ column for Dancing Times magazine.