From Tuesday, 11 June, if you happened to cross the high parvis of Duomo di Milano, you certainly would have noticed many tourists and Milanese with mobile phones and upturned faces observing workers of Veneranda Fabbrica del Duomo di Milano, expert rock climbers, hanging from ropes to wash the marble.
How was the project conceived? The Cathedral’s façade was last cleaned in the early 2000s, ca. 15 years ago. This interval was useful to test a new extraordinary and regular scheduled cleaning process performed ca. every 10 years to prevent the formation of black residue produced by chemical reactions between calcium carbonate and air pollutants, and the build up of other elements of degradation.
Each area is cleaned by personnel from the Duomo’s building yard who are trained to hang from ropes, thus allowing to progress downwards with the pressure washer that is most insistently applied on flat surfaces and on areas presenting delicate decorations. According to the principles of renovation, every intervention that starts in the morning must be completed in the evening to prevent the dirt that was removed, which has a greasy composition, from deteriorating the underlying areas.
The safety of the interventions, namely the anchor points to which the workers-rock climbers are secured, are defined by a team of mountaineers who make the spires a safe working place, as if they were the peaks of the Dolomites, consistently with the drawings of a far sighted typical Milanese, such as Dino Buzzati.
The cleaning process will take about ten days to be completed, and it will especially highlight any cracks or fissures in the marble. To contribute to these ongoing and necessary renovations of the Cathedral, effective from this year, a signature will suffice: you can choose to donate 5X1000 to Veneranda Fabbrica del Duomo on the income-tax return statement.
A simple gesture that is essential to protect the Italian cultural heritage!