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.