AN ITALIAN medieval leaning tower has been sealed off amid fears the 12th century structure will collapse on nearby homes.
The 154ft Garisenda Tower in Bologna tilts at a four-degree angle, leaning by as much as its famous counterpart in Pisa.
Authorities have now begun building a 16ft barrier around the medieval tower to contain debris in the event that it falls.
It said that as well as containing debris, the barrier would protect surrounding buildings and people in the event of a collapse.
Metal rockfall nets would also be installed around the tower.
Construction of the barrier is set to be done early next year, while the tower and the plaza beneath it are expected to remain closed for years while restoration work is carried out.
The city estimates that the barrier alone will cost £3.7million and has launched a crowdfunder to cover the costs.
It called the project an “extraordinary challenge” that would require “commitment from the entire city and from those all over the world who love Bologna and one of its most important symbols”.
The Garisenda is one of two structures that characterise Bologna’s skyline.
Its sister, the Asinelli Tower, is roughly twice the height and likewise leans, albeit not as dramatically, and is usually open for tourists to climb.
The structures were built between 1109 and 1119, though the height of the Garisenda was reduced in the 14th Century as it had already begun to lean.
The tower is also mentioned in Dante’s poem The Divine Comedy, which was completed in 1321.
The site was initially closed in October when sensors detected changes in the tilt of the Garisenda and tests found deterioration in the materials that comprise its base.
Bologna’s council has then created a civil protection plan to preserve the tower, and the work currently underway “represents the first phase of making it safe.”