A 900-year-old leaning tower in the Italian city of Bologna has been sealed off over fears it will collapse into nearby buildings.
The 47m tall Garisenda Tower tilts at a four-degree angle and is likely to topple over due to disintegrating stonework and cracks in the brickwork, authorities said.
The city announced it would set up bright red 2.6m thick barriers around the base of the tower to contain any falling debris.
“A new report by experts states the tower is at great risk of falling, so we need to be ready for every eventuality,” a city spokesperson said.
The council has now launched what it calls a civil protection plan to preserve the 12th century tower and said the work now being started “represents the first phase of making it safe”.
The barrier alone will cost £3.7m and a crowd funder has been launched to pay for the restoration, according to city authorities.
Theories as to why the Garisenda should now fall including vibrations from traffic pounding past the tower and a freak storm and flooding in May, which may have weakened the foundations.
The spokesman said heat from an ironmonger’s furnace set up in the tower in the Middle Ages may have also weakened the stone work.
The Garisenda Tower is one of two towers that dominate the skyline of Bologna. The structures were built between 1109 and 1119, though the height of the Garisenda was reduced in the 14th Century because it had already begun to lean.
It tilts at one degree less than the five degree slant of the leaning tower of Pisa, which has a more solid structure and is surrounded by open space.
Mayor Matteo Lepore noted in a debate earlier this month that the Garisenda tower has leaned since it was built “and has been a concern ever since.” It sustained additional damage in the medieval era when ironwork and bakery ovens were built inside.“We inherited a situation that over the centuries has caused this illness,” he said. The mayor has asked the government to petition to make the towers UNESCO world heritage sites.