The Leaning Tower of Pisa has been given a facelift, which involved extensive cleaning and a bit of straightening.
Over a period of eight years, restorers used chisels and laser technology to remove grime from the 24,000 blocks of stone that make up the 183-ft tower.
The stones were in poor condition – mainly because of air pollution and pigeon droppings. They’d also been damaged by sea salt – Pisa was once on the coast and was a powerful maritime republic until its harbour silted up and was cut off from the sea.
The columns of the tower are decorated with flowers, ghoulish faces and fantastical animals. “But sea salt carried on the wind, and rain water that collects in certain areas because of the tower’s tilt have damaged many,” said Anton Sutter, the Swiss-born leader of the £20 million ($31 million) restoration effort.
“We’ve taken out the concrete used in past restorations and cleaned up the pigeon dirt, graffiti and handprints left by tourists,” he said.
The tower has been leaning since the construction of the third level in 1178 because of soft sand and clay beneath its inadequate foundation. It was on the verge of collapse in 1990, and closed to the public, but was then secured.
In the latest restoration, the famous list has been partly corrected – engineers managed to straighten it by 18 inches from the vertical, returning it to its 1838 position.
by Andy Moreton
There’s plenty to see apart from the famous bell tower, and Luxique offers best rates at a jewel of a luxury hotel in Pisa: the classic, 19th century Royal Victoria.