Dear friends, 2017 is a special year for the Veneranda Fabbrica with this October marking the 630th anniversary of its establishment:for almost seven centuries the organization responsible for the construction and maintenance of the Duomo has, with a great sense of duty, watched over this international symbol of Milan.In honour of this commitment, over the decades that followed, the Fabbrica successfully protected the wisdom and knowledge of the people of Milan, caring for the Duomo with love and devotion.The Cathedral, a world heritage site for all of humanity, does not belong exclusively to Milan and its residents:the Duomo is much more than that which can be expressed in words; it represents an extraordinary centre for religious and civil faith. At the dawn of the third millennium it is an advocate for universal values. Seeing the city flourish outward from its centre has been an invaluable gift for the citizenry, for all of us. The urban fabric around the Duomo has been nourished by the life of the Veneranda Fabbrica, and every single gesture of those who have been involved in its construction - or who have simply had the privilege of admiring its beauty - has left an indelible sign on the Monument's marble.A lot has happened since 16 October 2012, the day in which the "Get Your Spire. Carve your name in history" fund-raising campaign was born and it is also thanks to your generosity that over the past five years important restorations which safeguard the Monument have been completed. Nevertheless, numerous other challenges await, in the name of the industriousness that has been the Fabbrica's lifeblood since its establishment. The great Cathedral is alive because the Fabbrica has remained alive, and this has been made possible thanks to your generous contributions and your inspiring devotion.Together with renewed commitment.
Since 2012, the "Get Your Spire. Carve your name in history " project has collected the funds necessary to pay for restorations of the Duomo di Milano and its 135 spires. Established in 1387, the Veneranda Fabbrica's ambitious undertaking has been made possible also thanks to the precious contribution of the numerous donors that have chosen to answer the call €1 is enough to become a part of history".
WHAT HAS BEEN DONE
Among the projects that have been completed in recent years by the Veneranda Fabbrica, restoration of the Pestagalli Spire, which rises to the south-east of and crowns the Main Spire, is of particular importance.The restoration of this spire was part of the broader and more grandiose restoration of the Main Spire, one of the most important projects completed by the Fabbrica in the past century:begun in 2009, it required a significant amount of resources, technology, and investments equal to over €12 million. The work done on the Pestagalli Spire involved restoring the damaged parts, substituting the parapets of the ascending stairs housed within the spire, cleaning the surfaces, and reinforcing the seals.
Another challenge that the Fabbrica successfully met in recent years was that of securing the reverse buttresses, elements which stabilize the Main Spire by opposing the lateral pressure that the Madonnina's Spire withstands each day due to its extraordinary height. The work on these buttresses, which was particularly complex, entailed a complicated study of equilibrium, necessary for substituting the ashlars without damaging the static position of the Great Spire during the delicate dismantling and reassembly of the pieces.Upon completion of the reverse buttresses, it was finally possible to definitively dismantle the great cylindrical scaffolding that encircled the base of the Great Spire,thus restoring the evocative visual image of the Madonnina to all residents and visitors of Milan.
At the same time as these aforementioned activities were taking place, the Veneranda Fabbrica completed a total overhaul of the Duomo's interior lighting, which now entirely uses energy efficient LED fixtures controlled by cutting edge domotic systems.
The program begun in recent years to bring the Duomo back to its original magnificence, in collaboration with national and local organizations, has been lauded and is now the starting point for the ambitious restorations to be undertaken over the next three years.
PROGRAM OF ACTIVITIES, 2017-2019
The next three years will see the Veneranda Fabbrica's workers involved in the restoration of the Vandoni Spire (completed in 1892 and positioned in the north-west, it is named for Giuseppe Vandoni, head architect of the Fabbrica from 1862 to 1890), the Amadeo Spire (completed in 1519 and positioned in the north-east, it is named for Giovanni Antonio Amadeo, the architect who designed it in the 16th century), and the other four architectural elements that, according to the original design, rise above the Duomo's four great pylons.
These, positioned at the intersection between the central nave and the transept, support the Tiburio and the Great Spire and, according to the objectives of the initial project which was completed over the course of centuries, were to be helped by the overhead compression caused by the weight of the four smaller spires,the function of which was intended to be static and not merely aesthetic.The complex history of the Duomo's construction goes on to show that this assessment was contradictory as, for almost three hundred years, the monument remained standing without three of these (subsequently completed in the middle of the 19th century).
Also among the activities on the agenda are the completion of the spires G16 Santo del Levante, G70 Giovane Santo, G71 named for the blessed Contardo Ferrini Jacopi, and G75 dedicated to San Giuliano, according to the numbering system of the "Get Your Spire" project.
Completing the repair of the apsidal flying buttresses and the restoration of the highest and most exposed parts of the monument's southern façade are also urgent.
The schedule of work for the next three years, drafted thanks to the bi-annual surveying conducted by the Veneranda Fabbrica, also includes completion of the central terrace's waterproofing, with the raising and renovation of the flooring of the first three sections closest to the Duomo's façade.Also highly relevant and of great impact are the renovations which affect the Lower Tiburio, or rather the octagon beneath the Great Spire. With the many heavy chains that arm the Tiburio, this renovation is certainly the most ambitious of those planned,yet it is absolutely necessary upon completion of the ambitious restoration of the entire spire.
Furthermore, restoration of the internal parameters of the sacristy’s vaults and the renovation of the technical systems in these two amazing spaces, essential to the Duomo's religious services, are planned as well. In addition to the ambitious projects already listed, the 2017-2019 calendar also includes the normal daily activities of the Candoglia Quarry, surveys of the monument, recording of the activities, and the cleaning and use of consumable materials:this is all part of the centuries-old process overseen by the Veneranda Fabbrica, an ongoing project oriented towards the future.
WHY ADOPT A SPIRE?
Spires are architectural elements typical of the so-called Gothic style: ornately decorated and rich in statuary, for the most part 17 m tall, they are very fragile due to their slender structure. In fact, the subtle pink Candoglia marble decorations are vulnerable to the effects of variations in temperature, pollution, atmospheric agents, and being continuously exposed to the sun throughout the day. Add to this defects in construction, like rusty pins, broken seals, and infiltration of rainwater. For all of these reasons constant maintenance and restoration of the weakest and most damaged parts is necessary.
Restoration of the spires is broken down into the following stages:
- mapping of the parts;
- survey and study of the data;
- planning and mounting of the scaffolding;
- checking and replacing the electrical systems;
- cleaning of the marble surfaces and reinforcement of the healthy parts;
- remodelling of architectural elements damaged beyond repair;
- removal and replacement of ruined parts.