Fashion tycoon and president of OTB Group Renzo Rosso has pledged €5 million to the restoration works on the Rialto Bridge in the Italian city of Venice, provided that the scaffolding covering the bridge will display billboards promoting OTB Group brands, just in time for the Venice Biennale preview that is due to begin on 6 May.
The Renaissance bridge, which was built in 1588, is the oldest in Venice’s Grand Canal, and has been in need of restoration works since the summer of 2011 after the collapse of 140 columns that support the banister. The works are expected to take around a year and a half to complete, and due to the current economic climate in Italy, funding major restoration works such as these has not been easy. Rosso’s generous donation is in line with other private donors who have funded renovation works to save Italy’s heritage in recent years. For example, Bulgari provided funds for the renovation of Rome’s Spanish Steps, and Ferragamo helped Florence’s Uffizi Museum to reopen eight Renaissance rooms.
The Rialto bridge was constructed mainly from Istrian stone. “Istrian stone is a solid material, but delicate at the same time, because when water permeates it, it runs the risk of breaking,” said a member of the restoration team, Elizabetta Ghittino, according to the Spanish newspaper El País.