2018 02 Doc Mese02

Bombing of the site: a dramatic day in the Veneranda Fabbrica Architects' Log

The Document of the Month, February 2018

More than once, while discussing both old and modern sources preserved in the Archives, we have demonstrated how much these have contributed to the reconstruction of daily life as it unfolded around the Cathedral's enormous site. At times the reconstruction of these details requires a painstaking cross-referencing of dates and articles, while at other times it is facilitated by the source itself, which by its very nature is both witness to and narrator of the progressive passage of time.

This is the case for the Architects' Log, handwritten documents compiled daily by the Fabbrica's site manager or his assistants, the reading of which provides an incredibly thorough summary of events, full of details that are as important historically to the Duomo and to the city of Milan as they are fascinating for the almost colloquial way in which they are recorded.

In one of the entries by Architect Zacchi (AVFDMi, Reg. 2058), on 20 October 1944 a dramatic event was logged: 12pm: During this morning's enemy raid, the site on Viale Gorizia 5/7 was hit once again, resulting in the destruction of sculptor Malerba's studio and serious damage to the building.

The entry does not speak of damage to the Cathedral, though there was that too. What Arch. Zacchi recorded, while less visible and obvious to the eyes of the city, was nevertheless a major blow to the Duomo itself. One of the pillars of the Fabbrica's operations had been struck: the marble workshop, at the time located on the Darsena, or rather on the last remaining urban dock of the ring of Navigli, the waters of which had transported marble from Candoglia all the way to the Santo Stefano lake for centuries.

It was with the marble workshop itself that the Duomo's rebirth began after the war. This was, in fact, the site of the first post-war reconstruction and recovery projects, because by getting the heart of marble processing pumping once again, it would be possible to continue with restoration of the Cathedral. Thus began an intense period of reproduction of those of the Duomo's statues and decorations which were damaged by the bombings. To this day the marble workshop is a fundamental part of the Veneranda Fabbrica's life and that of the Cathedral. Its activities and the importance of its memory was the subject of the last Scuola della Cattedrale, scheduled for Monday 19th February.