Tipping The Balance

Pisa's famous tower has been heading south for more than 800 years. Here's how a lot of weight and a little digging stopped the slide

In 1989 almost a million visitors clambered up the 294 steps and peered out over its vertiginous tilt--about 13 ft. off plumb and growing by an alarming .04 in. to .08 in. a year. Pisa's historic Leaning Tower, experts warned, had leaned too far and could topple at any time in the next decade or two. So the 800-year-old white marble structure, one of Italy's most famous monuments, was closed for nearly 12 years and for $25 million of ingenious engineering work to set it a little straighter. Not, of course, entirely straight--Dio mio!--that would have destroyed its tourist appeal. But...