We have some good news early in this new year: the Leaning Tower of Pisa isn’t leaning quite as far as it used to!
Construction started on the tower in 1173.
It was built on unevenly soft ground, so it started to tilt toward the south.
A series of wars also caused delays in the construction, and while some engineers say those breaks actually helped keep the tower from toppling, the leaning continued.
The builders tried to fix the problem as they continued work.
For example, when they added new stories, they made the short ends taller than the other side.
But that didn’t solve the problem, and over the centuries, the lean became more and more pronounced.
By the 20th Century, the situation was so bad that some of the heavy church bells in the tower could no longer be rung and visitors weren’t allowed inside.
It was 5.5 degrees off center.
An international team of civil engineers got to work.
They concluded that trying to build a more sturdy foundation might hurt the tower.
Instead, they have removed tons and tons of soil from underneath the taller side of the building, and then using steel cables to help it stay more upright.
Also, the stabilization project discovered that the water table underneath the tower is also uneven.
During heavy rain, the building could actually tip over more, so they made it easier for water to drain out of the area.
A nonprofit group in Italy has been closely monitoring the Leaning Tower’s lean, and its latest report in November 2022 found that these efforts have paid off.
The lean has been reduced by more than a foot, and the building itself has been straightening back out independent of the engineering work.
For centuries visitors have worried that the tower might someday topple over, but recent estimates suggest it’s in good shape for at least the next 300 years.
Today in 2020, people in Venice saw an unusual sight: two emu-like birds known as rhea or nandu took a train ride into the city and then roamed around like tourists.
The owners of the birds were fined 400 Euros each and they had to leave Venice for two days.
The birds had to take the next train out of town.
Emu-like birds’ Venice day out earns fines for owners (The Guardian)