In Milan, for almost seven centuries, energy and industriousness are synonyms of the never-ending work that Veneranda Fabbrica del Duomo continues to perform every day on the Cathedral, in order to continue to preserve all the splendour of the most symbolic building in the city, known throughout the world.
Even during the six months of Expo, a hugely challenging event that placed the Duomo and its most precious symbol, the Madonnina, at the centre of the international scene, the Restoration and Maintenance Sites operated by the Fabbrica did not stop work on the Cathedral, under the eyes of millions of worshippers and visitors who entered the Duomo's huge doors.
FROM THE MAIN SPIRE TO THE FALCONATURE, WORK IS NOW IN PROGRESS ON THE PESTAGALLI SPIRE
The winter season has not halted the restoration work, which has proved to be absolutely essential on some elements and structural parts of the Cathedral. This work includes restoration of the base of the Main Spire and in particular of the Lantern, where the eight inverse flying buttresses that play the vital role of bracing and redistributing the huge forces acting on the masonry fabric. This fabric was showing signs of damage given that the previous work on it dates back to the time of World War II, even before the terrible explosions of the bombings in August 1943. Over the last few months, repairs have already begun on the Pestagalli spire, a spire with an exquisite structure – a slender central pinnacle connected to a fretted outer curtain by a series of small arches, standing beside the Main Spire. The poor state of preservation of these arches had reached an alarmingly critical level.
SQUADS WORKING TO REPAIR FISSURES AND FRACTURES IN THE MARBLE
Work is currently also in progress and due to continue over the coming months for restoration the falconature or decorative elements, an operation that has proved to be particularly urgent given the critical conditions revealed during recent inspection, and for maintenance of flying buttresses AR1, AR2, ar1 (identified according to the structural coding that has always been used by Veneranda Fabbrica), on the south-west part of the Terraces, that act as counterforts.
Work is also continuing on the restoration of stained-glass windows 204 and 205, which have not undergone any work for a long time. Close to areas that have now been reopened for public access, they show numerous cracks, broken panes and detachment of the slender stone elements that form the internal decoration of the large windows. Work is also continuing restore the spires.
A NEW LIGHTING SYSTEM TO PROVIDE A NEW LOOK FOR THE DUOMO
Work is also continuing to replace the lighting system of the Cathedral, the first part of which was inaugurated on 1 May last year by the Archbishop Cardinal Angelo Scola: a formidable task undertaken by Studio Ferrara Palladino e Associati which involves more suitable LED fixtures to replace the old halogen floodlights, finally providing lighting for the central nave and four side aisles and for the capitals, using new technologies and allowing the Duomo to be seen in a totally new light, as it has never been seen before. This operation is now being completed with the replacement of the electrical wiring system and with creation of a suitable system of special equipment, safety and security devices, also explicitly required by the police.
The cleaning of the internal façades, made even more necessary by the improved lighting inside the Duomo, will also continue.
THE CHALLENGE OF GET YOUR SPIRE
All this would not have been possible without the generous support of all the donors who have chosen to join the Get your Spire campaign, to raise funds for restoration of the Cathedral which has recently celebrated the achieving of an important target: the campaign has in fact to date received donations totalling over 600,000 Euros.
There is still a great deal to be done to complete the work undertaken: this is why the Fabbrica continues to renew its appeal for donations for the Cathedral, to continue to carve the extraordinary story of Milan and its people on the move in marble.