The restoration of the internal walls of two rooms of Giotto's Bell Tower
an act of conservation and valorization of a unique space
The Bell Tower of Santa Maria del Fiore is one of the greatest masterpieces of Italian Gothic architecture. Started by Giotto in 1334, the construction of the bell tower was continued by Andrea Pisano upon the master's death and completed by Francesco Talenti in 1359. White, red and green marbles cover its structure, also adorned with important reliefs and sculptures from the 14th and 15th century. The restoration project, started in December 2023, involves two closed rooms not accessible to the public located on the first and second levels of the Bell Tower. It is precisely at these levels that Andrea Pisano's project is interrupted and the Talentian factory begins, characterized by large loggias open onto elegant pairs of mullioned windows and large three-lancet windows, from which splendid panoramic views can be enjoyed.
State of conservation of the rooms
The walls of the rooms, made of "exposed masonry" of pietra forte, are in fair conservation conditions, without showing particularly significant deterioration phenomena. In general, there is a widespread superficial deposit on the facing, on the stone elements and on the plastered parts of the vaults which has determined the need for generalized cleaning, a revision of the joints and the consolidation of the loose or exfoliated parts. Particular attention must be paid to cleaning the flooring, which is also made of sandstone.
The rooms, which have been used over the years as a storage area for various types of objects, are now free from various materials. At the vault there is a platform for the revision and plastering of the pietra forte ribs. Once the work on the walls and the vault of the upper room has been completed, the scaffolding will be mounted in the room on the first level for the complete cleaning, grouting, revision and consolidation work.
The restoration intervention
The first phase of intervention concerns the static control of the stone elements present inside these rooms, ensuring that they are stable and well fixed to the walls, thus guaranteeing the safety of the structures.
At the same time, the cleaning process of the internal surfaces was started. With the use of soft bristle brushes, the removal is delicately removed, removing the deposit accumulated over the years. Subsequently, the walls will be washed with demineralised water. During this phase, old unsightly grout and dark crusts will also be removed.
To prevent pieces of stone from detaching and to strengthen the surfaces inside these rooms, a special product based on lithium silicate was applied.
In the grouting and integration process, using compatible materials, the work will focus on damaged or missing parts: the cracks will be grouted to obtain a uniform finish and the portions of masonry modified over time for the installation of systems will gradually be restored, guaranteeing the at the same time their inspectionability.
During the project, the uniform chromatic harmony of the internal surfaces will be guaranteed through the application of glazes with colors based on pure mineral pigments, to keep the appearance of the Bell Tower rooms intact.
The construction site
- Client: Opera di Santa Maria del Fiore
- Design and Works Management: Ufficio Tecnico dell'Opera di Santa Maria del Fiore - Firenze (FI)
- Security Coordinator: Arch. Daniela Chiesi
- Contracting company: Estia srl
- Technical director: Arch. Rest. Paolo Pecorelli
- Foreman: Rest. Francesco Piovani
- Start of work: 07/12/2023