There’s no need to go all the way to Italy to see the Leaning Tower of Pisa anymore.
One needs only to head over to Revere Street where Jimmy Zajmi, of Elmwood Avenue, is putting the finishing touches this month on his full scale, 10-foot tall, exact replica of the Italian wonder.
“I started this last year and worked on it all summer last year,” he said last Thursday. “I built and built and built it. My wife helped me too. This tower is exactly 20 times smaller than the original. It’s an exact replica, but just 20 times smaller. I did research and measured everything. The Pisa tower is a construction project began on the side of the Pisa Church. It was built only for the bell on top.”
Zajmi, an engineer at his day job who is half Albanian and half Italian, has spent many hours laboring over building the tower – which faces Revere Street and is in line with his fence. It is about 10 feet tall at the moment, and Zajmi said there is about another foot to add over the course of the next few weeks.
The Leaning Tower of Pisa began construction in 1170 and, after building three floors, it was halted. That was because it began to shift. It ended up leaning sideways by 5.2 degrees. After about 70 years of pause, the project was started up again after it was determined that the structure had not shifted any further. So, the tower was completed at an angle.
Zajmi said his tower is also leaning at exactly 5.2 degrees.
He said he laid the foundation and then constructed the first few floors at the exact, 5.2 degree angle. Then, he built from there.
As it got taller and taller, he began to have to use a ladder to install more floors. That meant he would have to be rather careful, as each floor is made of stone – and quite heavy. “My wife helped me a lot,” he said. “I built it ahead of time in the yard about two floors at a time and then took it up the ladder.”
For the numerous columns that line the tower, Zajmi had a friend fabricate long concrete rods that he cut to size.
He has plans to enhance the tower with dramatic lighting and also lighting on the inside of the door.
So far, people have responded quite well and neighbors are amazed.
Zajmi said he gets lots of ‘honks’ from those passing by.
“They always give the thumbs up signal and yell, ‘Pisa,’” said Zajmi.
One thing that many friends and observers have fretted about is vandalism – as the tower is easily accessible to the public and right next to the sidewalk.
Zajmi said he doesn’t have the same concerns.
He has done several improvements to his well appointed home, including a recent monument to Mother Theresa. At that monument, which is also next to the sidewalk and has a plaque honoring the late saint, Zajmi placed an expensive lantern that he lit at night.
Many told him not to put it out there, but he wasn’t concerned.
On the first night, however, it was stolen.
“I put a note out where the lantern was that said whoever stole it should return it as it was meant to honor Mother Theresa,” said Zajmi. “The very next day, the lantern was returned to its place and there was a note inside that said, ‘Sorry, I was drunk.’ If that can happen, I’m not worried.”