VENICE — Tuesday morning wasn’t an average one for the city of Venice, with Andrea Bocelli performing on one of its most iconic symbols, the Rialto Bridge.
The tenor joined OTB founder and president Renzo Rosso and local and national institution figureheads including Venice Patriarch Francesco Moraglia, Mayor Luigi Brugnaro, the Veneto region’s Gov. Luca Zaia and Italy’s Tourism Minister Massimo Garavaglia in the official celebration of the restoration of the Rialto Bridge.
The ceremony, held during the Venice Film Festival and in the year of the city’s 1,600th anniversary, was opened by Bocelli performing Italy’s national anthem, while Moraglia blessed the bridge.
OTB financed the restoration of the bridge, as well as the flooring of the covered walkways around it, for a total investment of 5 million euros. The fashion company signed the sponsorship agreement with the city of Venice in 2012 and the works were fully completed by the end of 2019. However, due to the pandemic, the official ceremony to present the restored bridge was postponed twice.
“Today marks a special moment for me, because we have worked on this project for years and it wasn’t easy,” said Rosso, referring to the fact that 130 people were employed in the restoration, which required 80,000 hours to be completed. “I think it’s a great sign for Italy, which is living, I think, a good moment, especially because for the first time we have an awesome prime minister [Mario Draghi] that is helping us finally getting the attention we deserve from the rest of Europe and the whole world.”
Rosso added that it’s currently crucial to astutely invest the funds that the European community will allocate for the relaunch of the country after the pandemic, putting the focus on exalting Italy’s cultural and artistic heritage in order to stimulate the economy and boost tourism.
According to Garavaglia, tourism will play a key role in the development of the country, which in 2021 is expected to see its gross domestic product grow 6 percent compared to last year. “This is the highest growth rate registered since 1967,” the minister said.
Described by Moraglia as “a sign of rebirth,” the restoration of the Rialto Bridge, the construction of which dates back to 1591, highlights, according to Zaia, how Rosso continues to stand out as a “brave entrepreneur that values the social impact of its actions.”
“My father once told me something that I treasure: ‘Renzo, never forget that life has been generous with you, we have the obligation to give back’,” said Rosso, who was joined at the celebration by his family, including wife Arianna Alessi and siblings Andrea, Stefano and India.
To close the ceremony, Bocelli took the stage again, entertaining guests by performing Turandot’s “None Shall Sleep.”