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October 2009 - ST MARK’S SQUARE: WORKS UNDER WAY ON THE BASE OF THE TODARO COLUMN



October 2009

The works cannot be delayed any longer as the state of deterioration is advanced and some or all of the sculptural detail has already been lost. The works will last about two months. The relationship with the city that we have conceived for these business people gets under way with the restoration of one of Venice’s symbols. Its significance can be metaphorically interpreted as the consolidation of we Venetians’ foundations starting from the heart of the city: St. Mark’s Square. Our arrival in the world’s most elegant drawing room coincides with several other ongoing building works, which have elicited some controversy. Thus, in the spirit of collaboration with the City Council and the Superintendency, and understanding the needs of those who work there (not to mention of course the tourists), we have chosen to do the works in this off-season. We are using what we hope to be the least ‘invasive’ and most respectful hoardings possible for the site, hoping they may be appreciated not least for the historical notes given in Italian and English regarding the figure of Saint Theodore – Il Todaro for Venetians.



As always, we are committed to completing the works in the agreed time frame, in this case before Christmas (about two months). The space will thus be clear and the column restored to its natural beauty in time for the festive season. As far as the “Ae Oche” group of pizza restaurants are concerned, the managers have said that they are very happy with the decision. In recent months they have received a huge amount of praise and admiration for the works undertaken in Venice’s favour. The messages come as much from regular customers as tourists, who read about the works on specially-printed placemats. Venice is a unique city that has unique potential. The managers strongly believe in this city because it never fails to surprise and delight; and because it represents a opportunity for work that would be difficult to create in other cities. The financial commitment will come from the donation of € 0.10 for every cover charge and € 1.00 for every ‘Venezia’ Pizza sold, created specially to celebrate this project. The challenge has been set; the eve of the Christmas festivities is when we will see the results of the restoration. History The two magnificent columns of Mark and Theodore rise up in that enchanting space called Piazzetta San Marco (St. Mark’s “small square”) which divides St. Mark’s basin, the main square, the Doge’s Palace and the Sansovinian library. Brought here from the Orient in the twelfth century to decorate the prestigious Venetian wharf, the two imposing pink and grey granite monoliths were erected, it seems, in 1127 by Nicolò Barattieri, the builder of the first (wooden) Rialto bridge. His name derived from baratto (barter), the betting game that he was allowed to indulge in between the two columns in acknowledgement for the service he had rendered to the city. Records mention also a third column, which was lost in unknown waters during a delicate offloading operation and never recovered. On top of the two columns are place Veneto-Byzantine styled capitals, which hold aloft a bronze lion of St. Mark on the column nearer to the Doge’s Palace and a statue of the Greek saint Todaro - the first protector of the Venetians - on the column nearer to the St. Theodore library. The statue is a replica of the original that, due to deterioration, is now in the Doge’s Palace. Both granite columns rest on an octagonal base with three steps in Istria stone. The basements’ four corners are decorated with sculptures belonging to the art of the twelfth-century Veneto-Byzantine era that depict the Mestieri (trades) of the times.






 
 
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