Politecnico di Torino, 10129, Torino, Italy

(1) Corresponding author : Dr Stefano Invernizzi

Department of Structural Engineering and Geotechnics. Politecnico di Torino

Corso Duca degli Abruzzi 24, 10129 Torino – Italy

tel. +39.011.564.4860 fax +39.011.564.4899 e-mail:


In the present paper a comparative numerical and experimental study of three 13th century masonry towers preserved in Alba (Italy) is described. In the case of “Torre Sineo”, an increasing tilt mechanism has been simulated. Cracking and crushing of the masonry have both been taken into account, as well as the influence of geometrical nonlinearity. However, the main vertical crack detected in “Torre Astesiano” is probably due to thermal loading. A staggered analysis reveals that the correct crack pattern can be obtained when a reasonable variation of temperature is applied to the tower walls. Moreover, the analysis reveals that, although the static stress field is not influenced in a significant way, damage is responsible for high strain localization in the cracked area and for a change of the dynamic properties of the tower. In the third case, the tower called “Torre Bonino”, the presence of the ornamental stone layers is responsible for tensile stress concentrations which have caused damage and splitting of fragments. In all cases, the numerical analysis has given a valuable picture of possible damage mechanisms providing useful hints for the introduction of structural monitoring.