The Italian Almanac

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the Accademia bridge

Gates Bridge in Venice?

Officials in Venice, Italy, are offering commercial sponsors the opportunity to rename a bridge that spans the Grand Canal. The offer, the first of its type in the city, would name the bridge after a sponsor chosen by the Venice council.

Venice Mayor Massimo Cacciari said the wooden Accademia Bridge was built as a temporary structure in 1933 and has fallen into "incurable" disrepair. He said the city's funds are needed elsewhere to combat depopulation, flooding and pollution. "I am convinced the answer is to find a sponsor," he said, tabbing Bill Gates, the billionaire founder of Microsoft, as a prospective candidate.

Other names floated by local officials as possible sponsors are U.S. hotelier William Weidner and French billionaire Francois Pinault, who won approval from the Venice council to convert an aging customs house into an art gallery.