Bologna Medieval Garisenda Tower being saved by private investors

Private companies have donated more than €2m to save the mediaeval Garisenda tower in Bologna, a 48m-tall, leaning monument that has been cordoned off following fears it may collapse. The figure confirms a growing trend of private companies providing funds to renovate and secure Italy's dilapidated heritage. Constructed in 1110, the Garisenda tower, which stands alongside the 97m-tall Asinelli tower in Bologna’s historic centre, began to tilt when the ground underneath it subsided shortly after it was built.  Cited in Dante’s Divine Comedy and Charles Dickens’s travelogue Pictures From Italy, the iconic structure is central to Bologna’s identity, Matteo Leopore, mayor of the city, told The Art Newspaper. “The Garisenda and Asinelli are not just cultural symbols but political ones, too,” he said. “Bologna’s communist party used to use the towers, instead of the hammer and sickle, as its emblem.” Local authorities cordoned off the tower in December after sensors showed that the tower, was beginning to tilt southwards. To raise the funds, councillors launched a fundraising campaign in November, taking advantage of Italy’s “Art Bonus” scheme, a culture ministry initiative offering donors a 65% tax deduction. Piquadro, a Bologna-based leather goods producer, and Macron, a local sportswear distributor, are among a dozen companies that have made donations so far, with both contributing €100,000 each. The campaign had raised over €2m by the time The Art Newspaper went to press. Lepore said a number of individuals had also made donations and predicted the campaign would reach the €3m mark by Christmas.

This is not the first time private companies have come to the rescue of Italy’s heritage. In 2010, Diego Della Valle, head of the Italian shoemaker Tod’s, donated €25m for a major restoration of the Colosseum, winning the rights to use the image of the Roman landmark in his adverts for 15 years. The company also announced in November that it would give €2.5m to renovate Palazzo Marino in Milan, the city council’s 16th-century headquarters. The renovation is expected to take up to 16 months. The Piquadro Group and its founder Marco Palmieri are at the forefront of restoring the Garisenda tower in Bologna, which is under close observation: the authorities have declared that it is at high risk of collapse and that it requires safety measures and restoration .

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