In 2012, the Roman authorities realized their city coffers lacked the funds to repair some of its most emblematic buildings, which were falling apart and needed restoration without delay. Then mayor Gianni Alemanno, from the Forza Italia coalition, made the difficult decision to allow advertising on some of the monuments of Rome to raise the monies to restore their immense cultural heritage. Other aldermen of major Italian cities like Venice and Florence soon decided to follow Alemanno’s initiative.
Before long, the desperate request started to generate good results, and biggest names in Italian fashion— such as Tod’s, Fendi, Gucci and Diesel— saw a unique opportunity to display their advertising in places as admired as the Coliseum and the Trevi Fountain in Rome, the Rialto bridge in Venice and the Palazzo Vecchio in Florence. They also agreed that it was the right time to invest in the preservation of some of the most beautiful monuments of their country.
Diego Della Valle, owner of Tod’s, has invested a total of $32 million to rehabilitate the Coliseum, a project that will take several years. The first phase was completed last July. Della Valle told the press he is honored to help preserve one of the most famous monuments in the world, believing that art and culture— as well as cuisine and fashion— are the real symbols of Italy.
One of the significant problems with Rome’s iconic fountains is the humidity, which gradually and over the centuries has undermined the majesty of the stone monuments created by great artists of the Italian Renaissance. “Those fountains served as inspiration for artists from all corners of the world,” said Silvia Venturini Fendi in 2013, announcing, along with Karl Lagerfeld, that they were spending $2.8 million to bring back the lost dignity of the famous Fontana di Trevi, a symbol of the Eternal City. For several months, the scaffolds will be part of the delicate work by multiple artisans, which will last approximately two years.
Gucci, meanwhile, is investing more than $430,000 in the restoration of important Renaissance tapestries that will be displayed at the Hall of the Two Hundred, located in the Florence’s Palazzo Vecchio. Starting in 2015, Renzo Rosso, founder of Diesel, will make necessary donations to bring back brightness and splendor to the romantic Rialto Bridge in Venice, a city where he spent his college years and for which he feels great affection.
While the Italian government does what it can to try to safeguard the nation’s vast historical and artistic heritage, the great fortunes of fashion have become art patrons to try to maintain their past and present. For that, they deserve praise and recognition, because thanks to them, future generations will be able to admire the artistic treasures of Italy. ■