The city of Bologna is apparently getting serious about preserving two of its remaining medieval towers, beautiful and important landmarks that date back to the early 12th century.
A team of Italian experts has said the towers, located right in heavy traffic through Bologna’s historic centre, are in poor health and need the same protection from man-made threats as the Leaning Tower of Pisa enjoys, according to news wire ANSA.
The medieval structures both of which lean, have been weakened by centuries of tremors and decades of heavy traffic, according to a study by Italy's National Institute of Geophysics and Vulcanology (Istituto Nazionale di Geofisica e Vulcanologia).
''The results show several zones affected by significant deformations and inclination changes,'' says the study published in the Journal of Cultural Heritage on the Asinelli and Garisenda towers and quoted by ANSA.
Enzo Boschi, the head of the team that used laser scanning to verify the monuments' health, says that this means the city should seal the zone off to traffic and drop plans to run a new tram line in the area.
''All traffic (should be stopped), like in Pisa, where you cannot even get close to the Leaning Tower in a taxi,'' said Boschi.
''Today, two buses pass by the tower every minute from morning to night, three a minute in the rush hour.”
The Asinelli is the taller of the famous pair, standing at about 97 metres. It’s the only one that’s open to the public to climb, which I did two years ago. The views from up there are spectacular!
The Garisenda, which is about 48 metres tall, has a much sharper lean and is mentioned in Dante's Divine Comedy.
Today, numerous smaller towers still dot Bologna, but the two main towers in the historic centre remain crucial as symbols of the city.
The experts’ opinions about preserving the two towers won qualified support from Fabio Garagnani, a Bologna MP with Premier Silvio Berlusconi's People of Freedom party. ''We cannot fail to agree about the need to keep away heavy vehicles and, therefore, the new tram,'' Garagnani said.
''We don't agree with the area being closed off to traffic completely. In the meantime I've presented a question in parliament to stop the project for the new tram''.