Construction Crews to Straighten Leaning Tower of Pisa

Construction Crews to Straighten Leaning Tower of Pisa

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Work is expected to begin next week to completely straighten the Leaning Tower of Pisa. The tower, known for its iconic tilt, began rapidly sinking again last year. This comes after the tower had been self-correcting its lean because of stabilization work that ran from 1993 to 2001 to prevent the structure from falling over like a giant, poorly built Jenga tower. The corrective measures, along with the decade-plus autocorrect, managed to straighten the tower by about 18 inches.

The soil under the tower had been eroding away for months due to an undetected water main break. It was only discovered when work began to renovate the bathrooms on the tower’s fifth floor last October. Reports that the water main break was caused by the rare, spiked shell turtle have been unconfirmed.

A spokesperson for Idraulici Fratelli Mario, the plumbing company doing the piping retrofit, declined to comment and directed all inquiries to the Opera della Primaziale Pisana, the organization in charge of the Tower of Pisa and the other monuments on the Square of Miracles.

Construction on the white marble bell tower, or campanile, began in August 1173. Five years later, the tower began to sink during construction of the tower’s second floor. This was due to the unstable soil and a subpar foundation. The tower was finally completed 199 years after construction began. The project stalled multiple times so Pisans could fight with their neighbors.

Subsequent architects and engineers tried to compensate for the lean of the tower and correct earlier design flaws. They did this by building the upper floors with one side of the tower taller than the other. It succeeded in making the tower curved but failed to correct the tilt.

Back in 2019, an inscription on a stone unearthed in 1838 at the base of the tower finally confirmed that Bonanno Pisano was the original architect who designed the Tower of Pisa. The translated inscription reads, “I, who without doubt have erected this marvelous work that is above all others, am the citizen of Pisa by the name of Bonanno.”

Sometime around 1590, local math professor, amateur stargazer, and mad scientist Galileo Galilei terrified sightseers by dropping metal balls of various sizes off the tower. He later claimed it was all in the name of science as he attempted to prove the hare-brained notion that gravity accelerates all objects at the same rate, independent of their mass or composition. Simply put, two balls of different weights will hit the ground at the exact same time if dropped together off a really tall leaning tower.

The announcement to completely straighten the tower came as a bit of a shock to the local tourism board. More than 5 million visitors flock to Pisa each year to see one of Italy’s most famous landmarks. A local tourism official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, was quoted as saying, “No one wants to see a straightened Tower of Pisa. People that just want to see a bell tower that doesn’t lean will just go to London and check out Big Ben.”

In order to combat the expected drop in tourism, developers are working on a plan to build a 2,723-foot-tall giant-sized replica of the Tower of Pisa, tilt and all, in the coming years. The megatall skyscraper will be built of steel with a white marble façade which will be sourced from the same area the original tower’s blocks were quarried.

The new structure will house a luxury hotel, apartments, retail space, a casino, restaurants, office space, and a sky lounge and observatory on the top two floors. Initial plans also call for a giant waterslide to wrap around the exterior of the building like a giant corkscrew. Construction on the New Leaning Tower of Pisa, or Tower of Pisa 2: Electric Boogaloo as it’s called locally, is expected to start in 2025.

Oh, and Happy April Fools’ Day, or as they say in Italy, Buon Pesce d’Aprile!

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