To Save Venice After Its Latest Flood, You Can Adopt a Piece of It
(Bloomberg Businessweek) -- In 1971, Americans established the Save Venice foundation to help repair the city following a record deluge in 1966. The nonprofit has since funded the conservation of more than 1,000 artworks. Its mission is more pressing after November’s flooding, the worst acqua alta since 1966. Melissa Conn, who runs its Venice office, says water “broke over the floodgates and moved stonework and marble. We’re worrying about the foundations of the buildings, as well as the stonework.” Save Venice has a range of funding options. How will it put your money to use?
$500: A day’s pay for a conservator
Only trained conservation pros can carry out restoration work. They must rinse stonework with distilled water and assess conditions at the site. “Sending the cleaning lady in doesn’t really work,” Conn says. Larger sites can require 60 or more such pros.
Up to $2,200: Flood barriers
Heavy stainless- steel barriers are already installed on numerous buildings’ doors and windows, but many need to be replaced with taller versions to protect against surging waters. Per Conn: “They tend to be really heavy, so people are looking for lighter aluminum versions that anyone can maneuver, whether a nun or a museum guard.”
$66,000: Titian’s Annunciation
Many treasures of Venice, though they weathered the flood unharmed, still require intervention because of age: Titian’s The Annunciation at the Scuola Grande di San Rocco is one such painting. Conservator Giulio Bono, a Titian specialist, is primed to begin repairing damage caused by discoloration and overpainting before sealing it with protective varnish.
$69,000: Desalination at the Ca’ d’Oro
Like the Doge’s Palace, this mansion facing the Grand Canal is one of the best surviving examples of Venetian Gothic architecture, with its tracery, quatrefoils, and loggia-like windows. Columns, sculptures, and the mosaic floor all need desalination. The historic wellhead, made of Verona Red marble, sat underwater for 16 days and changed color as a result.
$997,225: Jewish cemetery and Italian Synagogue
Jewish culture has been central to Venice since the Middle Ages, even deeding us the word “ghetto.” Currently, debris and damaged trees must be cleared from the old Jewish cemetery on the Lido. Longer term, the Italian Synagogue in Cannaregio must be restored: Woodworm has infested its benches and balustrades, and the damp has compromised its stucco.
$1.1 million: Santa Maria Assunta, Torcello
This basilica is one of the oldest churches in the lagoon; some of its renowned mosaics date back almost 1,000 years. Those were the focus of work before the flood, especially the diaconicon apse. (Supporters can underwrite an individual figure from the scenes: An animal costs $10,000; the Christ Pantocrator is $40,000.) Since the deluge, the work here has expanded to include pumps to remove water from the crypt and geo-radar testing to determine the stability of the church floor, whose subsurface was damaged by water.
Money committed to address climate change has jumped 54% in 2019 from the previous year.
Sea gates to protect against surges were begun in 2003 and were due to be completed in 2011. Engineers now predict a finishing date for the end of 2021 at a cost of €5.5 billion ($6.1 billion).
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