Due to its particular urban layout and artistic heritage, Venice is universally known as one of the world’s most beautiful cities and it is listed, along with its lagoon, as one of Italy’s UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Venice is the third ranking Italian city (after Rome and Milan) with the highest flow of tourists, who come mainly from outside of Italy.
Back in the 1980s, Neri began working in collaboration with the city of Venice with the creation of the circular lantern, ‘Light 600’, which Neri designed on request from the city administration. This piece looks like a typical Venetian lantern from the 17th century, with rose coloured glass that was originally produced in the famous glass factories in Murano.
The city of Venice has succeeded in preserving much of its cast iron lighting equipment. Hundreds of posts and brackets, many in precarious conditions, have survived the fog and floods. For over 30 years, Neri has been helping the city administration save this unique collection of historical objects, which are of different types and were made from the mid-1800s on.
Historical Research by Fondazione Neri & Museo Italiano della Ghisa
When beginning the restoration process of original posts from any Italian or foreign city, Neri takes advantage of the collaboration with the Fondazione Neri, with its archives of photographs, original catalogues and comparative studies. The Foundation is a unique source of precious information to aid any type of restoration or reproduction.
Restoration of lamp posts along Canal Grande
The most significant and famous lamp post in the world is the three-lights model that lines the two banks of the Canal Grande all the way to Piazza San Marco and then onwards to the Riva degli Schiavoni. Neri has restored over one hundred posts that are still in use.
The lamp posts were in precarious conditions when Neri received them. They have been carefully taken apart and each component has been recorded. Then, they have been restored and painted green, their original colour, as requested by the Superintendency.
This is the most photographed lamp post during Carnival of Venice: it is a prized object and a symbol, as is the mask, of the city itself.
Restoration of lamp postsin Piazza San Marco
The largest lamp post in Venice has 4 lights and stands next to the Palazzo Ducale. Only 10 pieces have survived to the present day, but historical documentation shows that these lamp posts were used to decorate all of Piazza San Marco. Neri restored them, and maintained the historical image of that symbolic location in the city.
The conditions of these pieces were really very serious because of frequent flooding, typical of Venice’s winters, when the lagoon water rises up to one meter and immerses the bases of the posts.
Restoration of the lamp posts on Riva degli Schiavoni
Along the Riva degli Schiavoni, the historic promenade that connects Piazza San Marco to the Arsenale, there are four magnificent lamp posts, made in France, which have been standing since the mid-1800s on a balustrade along the Canal Grande. Four winged lions are on the base, and the column is richly decorated with drapings, branches and leaves.
The posts were in critical condition. Internally and externally, rust had eaten away at the entire structure, altering the material underneath the decorations.
Restoration of the one-light lamp posts
Venice is a labyrinth of streets called ‘calli’, bordered by navigable canals. Often, tiny streets end in wide squares, lively centres of charming sights. These spaces are where we the most common type of cast iron lamp posts in the city can be found. This slender and elegant lamp post holds one light, an authentic sentinel standing guard since the time of Austrian domination.
As the coat-of-arms on the base of the post demonstrates: a portrait of St. Mark’s lion with two lateral wings unfurled above its back. The wings belong to the double-headed eagle, a symbol of the Austro-Hungarian empire that ruled Venice until 1883. However, the eagle’s two heads are no longer present because when the Venetians defeated the foreign rulers, they removed them from all of the posts, even though they had been cast as a single piece with the base. It was a roar of liberation, and these historical posts still bear witness to it.
Reproduction of the one-light lamp posts
This type of lamp post was not only restored. It was also reproduced faithfully by Neri, on request from the City Administration, to provide light in those places along the lagoon where satisfactory lighting is not available, both for aesthetic and functional reasons. This project has lasted for several years now, to improve the quality of the lighting throughout the city.