Martedì, 23 Ottobre 2018
VENICE

Titanium bars brace restored Venetian bell tower

English
© ANSA

(By Sandra Cordon).
Venice, April 22 - After five years' of restoration
work, including the insertion of titanium bars to provide
stability, Venice's iconic campanile is finally safe from
collapse.
The work on the 99-metre high campanile, or bell tower,
which looms over Piazza San Marco was finalized just in time for
the great celebrations on April 25, which is the feast day of
Saint Mark the Evangelist.
He is one of two patron saints of Venice but perhaps the
best known and the one whose name graces the city's most famous
and most loved basilica, San Marco, and its campanile. (Saint
Theodore, the dragon slayer, was Venice's first patron saint but
was nudged aside in honour of Mark.)
Before the restoration work began, Venetians and visitors
alike had noticed the increasing numbers of cracks in the bell
tower's masonry. That led to widespread fears that the historic
tower could again collapse, as it did in July 1902, when the
campanile crumbled into itself, creating a roar of rubble in the
piazza.
It took the city 10 years to recover from that disaster and
rebuild the historic tower, following the form of the original
campanile constructed in the historic square in 1514.
Like so many structures in Venice, the bell tower was
constructed on wooden piles sunk into the lagoon and has
suffered from gradual subsidence which caused the massive form
to slow sink and slide downwards into the polluted water.
However, thanks to modern technology, the fractures and
settlements in the foundation have been repaired and the
campanile shored up with titanium bars to prevent sagging and
cracking.
Technicians explained that the titanium supports form a kind
of a circle or a loop that creates something of a belt to
support and reinforce the structure at its base and prevent
further shifting and subsidence.
It's believed that the titanium material will provide
"maximum durability" able to withstand the corrosive, polluted
water in the lagoon that surrounds Venice, while keeping the
weight of the tower evenly distributed across its base.
The campanile, first designed to be a watch tower, was
originally built on Roman foundations in the 9th century, with
construction not completed until the 12 century.
Various modifications as well as restorations continued to
be made on the structure before it reached its present look
achieved by 1549, when its base was adjoined to the piazza's
loggetta, built by Sansovino.
Restorations seem to be an ongoing necessity with the very
large bell tower. Its wooden spire was seriously damaged by a
fire in 1489 - one of several over the centuries - and an
earthquake in March 1511 seriously shook its foundations.
Several people were killed by falling stones from the bell
tower after a fire on April 13, 1745 caused some of the masonry
to crack and fall, and in 1776 a lightning rod was placed at the
top of the campanile to better protect it.
But perhaps one of its most damaging episodes was the 1902
collapse that began in July, when it was noted that the north
wall of the tower as showing signs of a dangerous - and growing
- crack.
Four days later, it collapsed, also demolishing Sansovino's
loggetta. Amazingly, no humans were killed in the collapse,
although the caretaker's cat was reportedly killed in the
disaster.

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