Giuffre Bros help Festa Italiana erect replica of Venice's St Mark bell tower
Posted on on Aug 29, 2008
An impressive replica of the Campanile di San Marco (the bell tower of St. Mark’s) in Venice, Italy, is ready for its debut at Festa Italiana, Thursday, July 17 through Sunday, July 20 on the Summerfest grounds.
Standing nearly 43 feet tall, the built-to-scale model of the Venetian landmark will be stationed east of the entrance to the Mid Gate. Italian Community Center member Cosmo Carini drafted the design of the replica. Since early April, he has led a crew that includes Ronald Benigni-Henck, Richard Adam and John Vella in building the project. The replica was constructed in the ICC warehouse in six stages, from the bottom up. The most difficult part, according to Carini, was the fourth stage, an upper portion of the bell tower with the cut-out arched openings, pillars and other embellishments. This is the part where the sounds of five bells in the actual tower ring out. The bell sounds coming from Festa’s replica will have a familiar ring to many who were part of Milwaukee’s Italian community years ago. Each hour on the hour, a recording of the original bell from the Blessed Virgin of Pompeii Church will be heard from a sound system built into the project. The Pompeii Church, which was located on N. Jackson St. in the old Third Ward, served the city’s Italian community from 1905 until its demolition in 1967. The church property, now the site of an off-ramp for Highway 794, is a short distance from the Summerfest grounds where Festa Italiana is staged. The bell is located on the ICC grounds near the south entrance.
"This replica of the Campanile di San Marco is a very welcome addition to Festa," said Henry G. Piano, president of the Italian Community Center and general chairman of Festa Italiana 2008. "What better way to bring a piece of Italy to Milwaukee? And a passport isn’t required to see this magnificent tower. On behalf of the ICC and Festa Italiana, I congratulate Cosmo Carini and his crew for a job well done." Carini and his crew were also responsible for construction of the replica of the St. Rocco Festival arch that debuted at Festa Italiana in 2007. The St. Rocco Festival was one of several feasts, organized by the Italian religious societies in Milwaukee’s old Third Ward in the early 1900’s. The Arch will be returning to Festa 2008.
Funded through private donations
Private donations continue to be collected to cover the cost of the bell tower project. Piano is spearheading the fund-raising effort. He advised that supporters of the project can, with a minimum $500 donation, secure a memorial to two related persons. The one-time donation will result in a permanent memorial that will appear with the replica every year. "We welcome donations of all sizes," Piano said, "but are able to offer permanent recognition only to those gifts at the $500 level or higher." Each memorial will appear on a gold metallic plate with a black lacquer coating. Within the blackened area, the wording of the memorial will be printed in gold letters. Each plate will have a gold border.
The memorials will be mounted on a specially designed panel situated near the bell tower. If you need more information on making a donation, please call 414/223-2808.
Building of the bell tower
Carini said that every effort has been made to make the replica as authentic as possible. He said he wishes to thank Mario Panizzut, a resident of Venice, who took pictures of the Campanile di San Marco and provided helpful information. Panizzut is an authority on the history of the bell tower. Carini said his daughters, Marie and Lisa, discovered Panizzut in a search on the Internet and helped to download the information and photos Panizzut sent to him for the project. Festa’s replica is built primarily of wood. Carini said, "shading and bricking" of the bottom 20-feet of the tower will be done by Tim Rozwadowski and Zoe Darling, employees of the Sherwin Williams store on Brady St. Sherwin Williams is donating the material and labor for the project. Sarah Kissinger will be hand painting the four panels mounted in a section just below the angled top of the tower. These paintings show the two lions of San Marco and female representations of Venice (la Giustizia: Justice). Kissinger is an art graduate student from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.
Just like the landmark of Venice, a golden angel has been placed on top of the tower. The tower will have an expansive interior support system to keep it from toppling. There will be no outside rope to hold the structure up because, "that would detract from the beauty," Carini said. The construction crew has also installed a built-in 32-foot extension ladder, which they will climb when bolting each section together and installing the sound system. A crane will be needed to lift the sections. Carini said that Giuffre Bros. Cranes, Inc. is donating use of a crane for the project.
A test-run for the construction project was conducted prior to Festa. During Festa, four spotlights will shine on the bell tower. Carini and his crew are building a white fence that will be put around the tower and the panel where the memorials will be posted.
Campanile di San Marco
A campanile (from campana, the Italian word for "bell") is a free-standing bell tower, often adjacent to a church or cathedral. The most famous campanile is probably the Leaning Tower of Pisa. The bell tower in Venice, which stands 325-feet tall, is adjacent to St. Mark’s Basilica, a structure which is crowned with five huge domes. Originally built as a shrine to St. Mark in the 9th century, that church was destroyed by fire. The second building was demolished in the 11th century to make way for the more impressive building that now sits on that site. It has become the cathedral of Venice. The bell tower that attracts so many visitors is itself not an original. Construction of the first one began in the 9th century and was completed in the 12th century. It served as a watch tower. That tower survived several fires and underwent several renovations during the succeeding centuries. However, on July 14, 1902, the campanile collapsed.
That same evening, the community council approved more than 500,000 lire for the reconstruction of the tower. It was decided to rebuild the tower exactly as it was, with some internal reinforcement to prevent future collapse. Work on the replacement was completed on March 6, 1912. Then on April 12 of that year-on St. Mark’s feast day-a formal dedication ceremony was held.
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