First Tod’s stepped in to save the Colosseum in Rome, then Prada agreed to restore Ca’ Corner della Regina, now Diesel founder Renzo Rosso reportedly has agreed to give money to restore the 16th century Ponte di Rialto in Venice. According to the Corriere della Sera newspaper the deal will be announced in the next few days.
Il Ponte di Rialto is the oldest of the four bridges that span the Grand Canal in Venice. Venice attracts tens of thousands of visitors each day, most of whom make their way over to the Rialto Bridge. The Rialto is starting to crumble under the wear and tear of the thousands of sneaker clad feet stomping their way across its marble steps.
The Rialto Bridge has begun to show cracks in the marble steps on either side. A column from the bridge’s stone balustrade collapsed earlier this year.
Il Ponte di Rialto is beautiful and you get a great view of the Grand Canal, but if you visit during the peak tourist season you will have to fight off thousands of tourists trying to take pictures. It is surprising to me that the bridge has withstood this assault as well as it has.
For decades Venice has benefited from a Special Law under which Rome provided extra funds for the upkeep of its palaces and canals. Now, with Italy buried under a massive public debt that is about 120 percent of their GDP their funding has been reduced. This reduction is prompting the Venetian government to go in search of private sponsors.
Restoration work to a dozen or so key palazzi and churches is now being paid for by Prada, Bulgari, Louis Vuitton and a foundation funded by Francois Pinault, the French luxury goods billionaire and art collector.
“It’s good for the companies’ images but it’s also a civic commitment by people with wealth,” said Giorgio Orsoni, the mayor of Venice.
“Needless to say, this sort of patronage benefits Venice, especially when the Special Law no longer helps us much.”