Take a left from the LdM offices on Via Faenza until you reach Via Nazionale and on your right you will find the beautiful Tabernacolo delle Fonticine, a seemingly odd edifice of polished glass and ceramic glazes amidst the hustle and bustle of the busy streets. However, the fountain wasn’t always in such great condition. Before the restoration project that started in March 2016, the fountain was in a terrible state of disrepair. The roof of the arch was black due to pollution and smog, the glass was broken in various spots, and chunks of ceramic were missing from the sculptures. A restoration project was planned as the fountain is considered a very important monument in Florence, with Lorenzo Casamenti, the LdM conservation professor, leading the project.
Restoration of the fountain began with various stages of cleaning which were done to restore the fountain back to its original glory. Scaffolding was used to protect the structure, broken glass was removed, and cracked cement and stone was cleaned and consolidated.
It was important for the restored parts to differ slightly from the original so the two are easily distinguishable. To do this, pigment, epoxy resin, and marble powder were mixed and used to fill in cracks of the marble fountain. The same method is employed on the grey stone structure. From a distance, the original and the filler looks the same and only upon closer inspection, can you tell the difference between the two. After using ammonia carbonate to clean the surfaces, varnish was used to prevent future dirtying, and a silicone protectant was used over the marble and stone to protect it.
For the sculptures on the inside, missing parts were replaced with clay molds and painted over then varnished. After 9 months of careful and detailed work, the newly cleaned and restored fountain was unveiled for the public. Today, everyone can enjoy the fountain in its full glory.
As a restoration student it is amazing to see and hear about the process of a project such as this. Although I wasn’t able to be part of this project, LdM restoration students have many opportunities to accompany professors on site to learn about past or future restoration projects. In my opinion, the more hands-on approach is just as helpful, if not more so, than conservation theory, because the results of a restoration or conservation project is physically in front of your eyes. Hearing Lorenzo describe the restoration project was not only fascinating, but also made me appreciate my place in the restoration department more, knowing that there are so many resources and opportunities available to me as a student studying in Florence.
Nina Hsu has always been passionate about all things art and history. She is currently double majoring in Conservation Studies and History of Art at LdM. In her free time, you can find her running around the streets of Florence looking for her next new lunch or coffee spot.