This Historic Leaning Tower In Italy Is In Danger Of Falling Down (And It's Not Pisa)

The Leaning Tower of Pisa may be one of the most recognizable structures in Italy due to its off-kilter appearance, but it's hardly the only skyscraper in the country with a distinctive tilt. Roughly two hours away, smack dab in the center of Bologna, stand the Two Towers or the Due Torri, two of the only remnants of medieval Italy. One of them happens to be crooked, too, particularly the Garisenda, the shorter of the pair. Some argue that the twin buildings are less of a tourist trap than their more famous counterpart, but you may not be able to see them up close and personal anytime soon, with the local government's recent decision to restrict access to the area because of concerns regarding Garisenda's structural stability.

In October 2023, Bologna mayor Matteo Lepore announced that there had been some unusual movements observed within the Garisenda, prompting the city to be on high alert. While the slanted monument had been subject to close supervision for years, Lapore told the city council that shutting down its surrounding areas was necessary for scientists to perform more thorough testing and determine how to move forward. They were to "conduct further monitoring and install sensors... to have definitive information about the state of health of the Garisenda," he said, per CNN. New sensors have been installed to make note of any concerning noise that may signal an impending collapse, along with a pendulum system to surveil movements more closely.

What else is the government doing about it?

City mayor Matteo Lapore assured everyone that the local government is doing what it can to preserve the integrity of one of Bologna's most iconic landmarks, including the possible banning of buses from entering its vicinity. "It's a symbol of the city and we must guarantee its safety," he said, as reported by The Sunday Times. However, culture undersecretary Lucia Borgonzoni expressed criticism over Lapore's apparent lack of urgency, telling local Italian media that more action needs to be done. "Perhaps there has been an underestimation of the situation by the municipal scientific committee that is in charge of the tower's conservation," she said, noting that the Italian government is ready to provide €5 million for restoration efforts. "The government has taken the field to save the iconic Bologna tower after the city council wasted time," she added.

The tension surrounding the treatment of the tower is rooted in its cultural significance. Garisenda and its sister tower, Asinelli, date back to the 12th century when Italy's most influential families engaged in a showdown to erect the tallest skyscrapers as a demonstration of power. As a result, Bologna became the Manhattan of medieval times, with hundreds of buildings commissioned across the city. Only 22 of these structures are standing to this day. Garisenda was initially constructed to stand 200 feet tall, but was shortened to 156 feet in the 14th century due to an unstable foundation. This structural issue also led to its four-degree tilt, which became its most definitive trait.