MILAN — Diesel chief Renzo Rosso has earmarked 5.5 million euros, or $7.2 million at current exchange, to sponsor the restoration of the most famous bridge in Venice, the Ponte di Rialto, through his holding Only the Brave Srl.

This story first appeared in the December 17, 2012 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

Work on the 16th-century bridge is expected to last 18 months and be completed by the end of February 2016. The city of Venice will be in charge of the project and coordination of the work.

“There is no city in the world that is more beautiful in terms of architecture, and it’s the city of love,” Rosso said of Venice. “It’s close to my heart, where I went to university and a point of reference for me.”

He defined the Ponte di Rialto as “the most important bridge historically, one of the world’s wonders, and an international symbol which can be associated with an international brand such as ours.”

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Rosso, whose lucky number is five, said he wanted the sponsorship to be “creative, not invasive” and in line with his artistic and innovative views. Asked how he would respond to those who might see the project as merely part of a business strategy, Rosso said he was proud that his company could contribute to the preservation of beauty. “Let’s give back to the territory. A modern entrepreneur should help, not replace, the public administration that is often overburdened with costs,” he said.

The vice Mayor of Venice, Sandro Simionato, rebutted naysayers, saying that “the city of Venice is ours, but also of the world. Therefore, it is a duty for us, as temporary administrators, to do everything possible to maintain it and improve it.”

Only the Brave controls Diesel, Maison Martin Margiela, Viktor & Rolf and Staff International.

Rosso is the second leading Italian entrepreneur to help fund the restoration of a major Italian landmark. Diego Della Valle of Tod’s earlier this year donated 25 million euros, or $32.9 million at current exchange, to help pay for the restoration of the Colosseum in Rome.

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