To conclude the series of meetings dedicated to authentic natural stone, we are going to explore the marble monument par excellence: Milan Cathedral
Francesco Canali, Site Manager Fabbrica del Duomo di Milano, talks of marble as an important resource for the great human projects that have survived for centuries, such as European cathedrals, of which the Duomo of Milan is one of the most significant examples.
“The Duomo of Milan,” he explains, “is clad with Candoglia marble from the level of the public street up to the covering, and is made of marble from the covering up to the top of the main spire, 108 meters high, which hosts the statue of the Madonnina.”
The marble used to clad Milan Cathedral, whose building started in 1387, is Candoglia marble, a very pure marble, a calcium carbonate that arrived in Milan on boat from the Ossola Valley. Its beauty, given by the veining, which is even more beautiful on rainy days, is the consequence of certain intrusions within the marble matrix. These intrusions, together with the bindings, make it stunning but are also responsible for its deterioration. As a matter of fact, ferrous materials oxidize, increase in volume, and break marble blocks from the inside.
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The Veneranda Fabbrica del Duomo di Milano
For this reason, the Veneranda Fabbrica del Duomo has never stopped working since the first construction. Milan Cathedral is a sort of living medieval relic that needs constant maintenance. So much so that in Milan’s popular language “la fabbrica del Duomo” indicates a very long, never-ending work.
“Marble,” concludes Canali, “is a great resource of the community, and over the century it has inspired wonderful works. As it is a very workable material, it can take many forms, and it has an extraordinary texture, with endless patterns. Of course, it requires a lot of maintenance, but you have to think that, actually, the Duomo is like a mountain, transported from the entrance of the Ossola Valley, disassembled and finally reassembled in the center of Milan.”