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September 14, 2017

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The Rialto Bridge restoration is complete

 

Work on the Rialto Bridge began in May 2015 and consisted of two structural interventions, one on the balustrades and one on the wall surface, for a final price of 3,4 millions (granted to the temporary association of Lares, Lithos and Setten Genesio), financed with 5 millions by the OTB (Only The Brave) Group, chaired by the Venetian entrepreneur Renzo Rosso who founded the well-known fashion brand Diesel.

Before the construction of the existing bridge, the canal banks were connected by a boat bridge called "Quartarolo" (namely the coin needed to pay the crossing fee). In the 12th century, the first stable bridge, supported by wooden poles, was built by the Lombard architect and engineer Niccolò Barattieri, and was called "Ponte della Moneta" ("Bridge of the Coin"). This bridge was later reinforced and expanded through two lateral ramps that, if necessary, could be raised to allow the passage of boats. The bridge took its current name, "Rialto", from the Rivoalto quarter, namely "high bank". Only in 1524, after a fire and two collapses, the bridge was rebuilt, for the last time, in Istrian stone by the Venetian sculptor and architect Antonio Da Ponte, in collaboration with his grandson Antonio Contin.

Today's intervention was aimed at strengthening the balustrade of the bridge through duplex steel shelves and strand and carbon-fibre supports. The intervention on the wall surface, intended to make the stone wall and the brick wall integral again, was carried out through basalt strands. The remaining preservative interventions were designed to clean the intrados, side and parapet stones, and the so-called "masegni" that constitute the pavement. The latter, big and heavy stone plates, once dismantled and numbered, were cleaned in an adjacent site: chewing gums were the most difficult to remove, and were detached one by one through vapor. After the restoration, the balustrade columns, removed and numbered, were fixed through a new lead casting.

What about the official inauguration? It seems we'll have to wait until May, concomitantly with the Biennale's 57th International Art Exhibition.

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