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Campanile di San Marco

san marco

In my December restoration report, I mentioned that they were putting scaffolding around the San Marco bell tower, and I found a couple of articles that explain what they are doing.

This article states that, “The bell tower was built after the existing 16th century structure collapsed in 1902. But the new tower was found to contain a fissure, discovered in 1939, which is very slowly spreading. The work will involve wrapping a titanium belt around the tower's foundations, between 1 meter and 3.5 meters (3 and 11 feet) below the ground, at a cost of 6 million euros.”

Another article says, “Experts were called in after a survey revealed the 99-meter bell tower is sloping by seven centimeters, a sign that its foundations - thousands of wooden posts driven into unstable ground - are failing to provide adequate support. Surveyors also reckon the foundations of the tower are cracking by a millimeter a year.”

The first article says that the restoration work will take a year and a half while the second says it will take two years. It’ll be interesting to see – maybe we should have a “guess the completion date” contest. I’m betting on three years. Someone on Slow Talk said that the tower is still open to visitors, but I don’t think I’ll be going back up until all scaffolding is gone and that titanium belt is in place!

Below is an old photo of the rubble after the 1902 collapse. There’s an interesting eyewitness report about this collapse reprinted on Venice for Visitors.


The golden statue on the top of this campanile is Archangel Gabriel, and legend has it that when the tower collapsed, the angel miraculously survived the fall and landed gracefully right in front of the main door of the Basilica.

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Comments (6)

Kathy (Trekcapri):

Hi Annie, this is interesting about the cracking foundation. Looking at that old photo of the collapse and all that rubble it was definitely a miracle that the angel survived.

Thanks for the great read Annie!


Oh wow, good to know! I'll definitely stay away until the restoration is complete. Gabriel might survive such a tumble, but I doubt I'd fare so well!

My guess is twice as much time: 3-4 years.

It was interesting to read the eyewitness report. I'm glad that they rebuilt the tower; I like my Italian churches with a bell tower.

Great photo of the tower on a beautiful day.

I could have sworn I left a comment so if I did (delete this one). I was in a drugged state yesterday with a severe migraine so it might have all been an illusion. So here goes once again...

I love this post!! The article was so interesting also. Could you imagine back in 1902 watching the tower disappear right in front of your eyes. It was a miracle that no one was hurt. Where did you find that photo?

Ever since I first read about the tower collapsing a few years ago, I have always thought "what if..." as I climb towers int Italy each summer. I guess if it's your time. Although it has not stopped me yet, it still crosses my mind.

Annie, These are some more great pictures. I had never heard the story about Gabriel.
You've posted yet another educational post for me.
I swear you are like my own personal history professor.

Thanks everyone!

Kathy, I'm not completely convinced that the angel story is true, but it's a great story anyway!

Anne, I feel the same way.

Maria, I think that's a good guess (twice as long). I'm glad they rebuilt it too - it's just such an icon.

Girasoli, I hope you are feeling better. I think I found the photo on Wikipedia Commons; they have some great old "public domain" photos over there.

Deborah, thank you! I'm glad the comments are working on your blog now; I am really enjoying reading about your trip.

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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on May 12, 2008 2:00 PM.

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