The Italian Almanac

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Rialto bridge

Restoration

Venice approved a study into a proposed restoration of the Rialto Bridge. If deemed feasible, the plan would launch the first restoration of the historic bridge on the Grand Canal in over 30 years. Restoration is estimated to take 18 months, due for completion in April 2015. "It would be a complete restoration," said Public Works Assessor Alessandro Maggioni. "It's been a long time coming for the city".

An estimated 20 million tourists trample Venice's ancient pavement every year, inevitably taking a toll on the Rialto Bridge, a city icon that for centuries was the only foot passage from one side of the Grand Canal to the other. Last year a column on the bridge's railing collapsed, and some of the marble steps have begun to crack, one of which was dislodged last summer, closing down part of the bridge.

Maggioni said the restoration would cost an estimated five to seven million euros, money the crisis-stricken city hopes to find in the form of private sponsorships. Renzo Rosso, founder and owner of the Diesel clothing company based in the Veneto region, has long been rumored as an eager donor to restore the 400-year-old landmark, but so far no offer has been formalized.

Labelled a World Heritage Site by UNESCO, Venice's status as a cultural mecca is unparalleled, attracting a stream of luxury tycoons in recent years eager to lend their names and their pocketbooks to the city's long list of necessary repairs.