The Italian government has proposed using restorers from their country to help to repair Paris’ Notre Dame Cathedral following its devastating fire.
“The Italian government is prepared to put the Ministry of Culture’s experts at France’s disposition for the reconstruction efforts on Notre Dame,” Culture Minister Alberto Bonisoli announced, after flames destroyed the Gothic cathedral’s roof and spire.
Italian restorers, “have built up considerable technical skills through confronting similar emergency situations here in Italy,” commented Bonisoli, who said he had relayed the offer to France’s minister of culture. “Notre Dame Cathedral is a symbol of France, but also the whole of humanity’s heritage,” he continued.
Italy has several recent experiences to draw on, having lost and rebuilt two historic theaters and a sacred chapel due to fires in the past two decades.
Venice’s opera house La Fenice, “the phoenix,” so named because it was commissioned to replace another Venetian theater that had burned down, has been restored twice in its 200 year history, most recently after arsonists set it alight in January 1996. It reopened in 2003 after a reconstruction that took two years and $100 million.
In the south of Italy, Bari’s early 20th century Teatro Petruzzelli was destroyed by fire in October 1991. After its private owners could not afford to repair the structure, $25 million was raised through the public to restore the opera house, which finally reopened in 2009.
The Chapel of the Holy Shroud within Turin Cathedral, which houses one of the Catholic Church’s most prized relics, was badly damaged by fire in April 1997. The Shroud itself was saved when firefighters smashed through the bulletproof glass protecting it in order to rescue the priceless relic from the burning building. It reopened to the public in September last year, after $30 million of restoration work.
French President Emmanuel Macron has called for Notre Dame to be rebuilt within five years. More than $700 million was donated within the first 24 hours to a fund set up to finance the repairs.