Venice, advertisements arrive on church facades to raise funds for restorations

Venice, Patriarchate gives OK to advertisements on church facades to raise funds for restoration.

A probably drastic, but also inevitable, solution in order to obtain funds for the restoration of Venice’s churches: since resources are scarce, the Patriarchate of the Venetian capital has given the okay to host large billboards on the city’s churches. There are at least fifty houses of worship in need of interventions, some of them urgent as they follow damages such as detachments and slight subsidence, and some of the most visited churches in Venice are also affected, such as San Moisè, which is located on the San Marco-Accademia axis in one of the streets most frequented by tourists (it has problems on the facade) or San Geremia, which has suffered the detachment of some portions of the ceiling, and San Salvador, which also has a suffering facade.

Last March 7, the proposal to open to private sponsors on the facades was outlined by Don Gianmatteo Caputo, architect and patriarchal delegate for Cultural and Ecclesiastical Heritage, and Emanuela Carpani, superintendent of archeology, fine arts and landscape for Venice and the Lagoon: a necessary stunt to cope with increasing expenses.

The Patriarchate will be directly in charge of managing the billboards: the first one has already been installed on the church of San Bartolomeo, which is already undergoing some work. In short, an idea that will displease many, but which the Patriarchate considers indispensable in order to raise the sums to be allocated for the work, also because, despite the fact that many of the churches are located in the focal points of the city and are visited by thousands of people, no backers can be found. And the sums are significant: for the work on the bell towers alone, one and a half million euros will be needed, Caputo said.

For Venice, however, this is nothing new: billboards had already appeared years ago on the facade of the Doge’s Palace, still others had literally enveloped the Bridge of Sighs, and still large panels had wrapped the Correr Museum, the wonderful facade of Ca’ Rezzonico. And even churches had been affected by the same measure: in 2017 great controversy had been aroused by the installation of a maxi-panel on the facade of the Church of the Pietà, and the same had happened a year later at the Church of the Scalzi (i.e., one of the first buildings that those arriving in Venice by train see). Nothing new, then: but billboards on facades, from sporadic exceptions, are increasingly in danger of becoming the norm.

Pictured: the billboard on the facade of the Scalzi church in 2018 (credit Page Venice Yes But Not Like This)

Venice, advertisements arrive on church facades to raise funds for restorations
Venice, advertisements arrive on church facades to raise funds for restorations

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