Milan, start of restoration work on frescoes in Civic Temple of St. Sebastian

Restoration work has begun in Milan on the frescoes in the Civic Temple of St. Sebastian, the church on Turin Street owned by the city.

Work has begun in Milan on the restoration of the frescoes in the Civic Temple of San Sebastiano, the centrally located church at number 28 Via Torino, a building owned by the City Council and unique in the city in its perfectly cylindrical, dome-covered form designed in 1576 by Pellegrino Tibaldi (Puria, 1527 - Milan, 1596). Scalpels, paints and brushes in hand, restorers from Tecnireco, a Spoleto-based company specializing in domes of religious buildings in charge of the work, have begun work, suspended more than 40 meters above the ground, on the more than 1,000 square meters of pictorial works above the capitals inside the building, to refurbish the frescoes that Agostino Comerio painted beginning in 1828 on the segments of the dome.

In the year that the work will take place, faithful, art lovers and tourists will still be able to enter the church during church services. The special multidirectional scaffolding of more than 2.000 square meters, which allows for movements in a round geometric shape, will be completely covered and covered: nothing will be visible from the pews; however, the restoration can still be admired thanks to a projector that will allow those entering the church to see on a screen the workers at work: “A restoration to look at and admire,” says architect Pasquale Francesco Mariani Orlandi, designer and director of works, who is coordinating the intervention for the Technical Area Demanio e Beni comunali diversi and for the Presidency of the City Council.

An enhancement that begins with the restoration on site, but may continue even after its conclusion with the screening of films dedicated to the history of the civic temple. The work will affect friezes and frescoes that embellish the dome above the capitals, which have been grayed by time and candle smoke. The statues, gilding (in real gold and oron), mosaic stained glass windows, and the lighting system will also be cleaned up. The restoration was preceded by ananalysis of the state of the frescoes performed with a drone and laser scanner, which allowed detailed mapping, a digital photograph of the works useful to understand with what methodology to intervene and as a study for possible future interventions. A modus already used for the Lyric Theater and the Orchid Cinema works.

Preliminary studies have found that, under the layer of inconsistent deposits, the frescoes do not show particular material and chromatic alterations. With criteria of selectivity and gradualness, cleaning operations will be carried out first by dry then by wet, then with the restoration of the surfaces, with the reestablishment of the adhesion of the pictorial film, punctual consolidations and the pictorial reintegration of the chromatic gaps and discontinuities.

The contractors in charge of the work specialize in special scaffolding and the restoration of domes of religious buildings. These are workers who have already worked for the City, from the Teatro alla Scala to the restoration of the Towers of the Archaeological Museum and the spaces of the ancient hospital (Pietà Rondanini) at the Castello Sforzesco. One million euros were allocated to carry out the work. The last partial restoration work was in 1952.

The temple of San Sebastiano was built starting in 1576 at the behest of the then governor of Milan, Antonio de Guzmán Marquis of Ayamonte, and consecrated in 1616, the year of its completion. Ownership of the building has always belonged to the Milanese: even in Borromean Milan, in fact, the municipality continued to manage the house of worship (although it was shared with the church at the time). Since 1861 it was instead administered by a municipal “conservatory,” which used municipal funds for the preservation of the building. Today the temple is owned by the City of Milan.

Milan, start of restoration work on frescoes in Civic Temple of St. Sebastian
Milan, start of restoration work on frescoes in Civic Temple of St. Sebastian