On 3 and 4 November 1966, a tremendous amount of water invaded Venice putting the historic city and the lagoon in danger. The flood paralysed the city for long hours. Telephone lines, electricity, the water supply, transportation, houses and shops located on the ground floor were devastated; many buildings and monuments were severely damaged.
UNESCO urgently initiated the call for action around the globe to express solidarity and offer tangible help to the authorities responsible for the protection of the city. Switzerland was amongst many countries ready to offer immediate aid.
After some time, it became clear that the emergency help was not enough. Venice needed constant care and more resources and energy to preserve its artistic and cultural heritage, which the city itself wasn’t able to provide. A passionate historian from Venice, Alvise Zorzi, evidenced that “the unique city is not only gifted to inspire and that is not limited to the gondola serenades, but it is strong and ready to fight; no other legend has reached the same.” After the commitment shown by different countries, our Foundation had continued to contribute and support Venice.
We, Swiss Foundation "Pro Venezia", seek to emphasise and strengthen the cultural relations between Switzerland and Italy while choosing restoration work. Many of the Venice masterpieces were created by architects and artists from Switzerland, or closely connected with the Confederation. In the early 15th century the presence of Swiss artists (plasterers, sculptors coming from the lake regions and the south of the Alps) was officially documented. They were attracted to the lagoon city by many job possibilities offered by a group of nobles, eager to renovate public, private, civil and religious buildings, as well as the republic of Venice itself. From these simple workers emerged skilled artists and architects, who enriched the cultural heritage of Venice for over three hundred years.
We like to recall that, in 2010, on the occasion of the restoration of Portale dei Carmini, for the first time we offered students the opportunity to try their hands on a construction site in Venice. As a result of the initiative, we started an international collaboration between the Venetian Institute for Cultural Heritage (IVBC) and the University of Applied Sciences and Arts of Italian Switzerland (SUPSI), so that Swiss and Italian students could work side-by-side in the restoration of the Church.
The activities carried out by the Foundation were honourably awarded both in Switzerland and in Italy. In 1976 we received the Award of the Foundation of the Centenary (Fondazione del Centenario) from the Bank of Italian Switzerland, whereas in 1980 the Torta Prize in Venice.
To learn more about the Swiss Award, visit Fondazione del Centenario.
Click on the image below to view or download the publication "Premio Pietro Torta per il restauro di Venezia 1980" - Ateneo Veneto in the pdf version.