MILAN — Tod’s Group has pledged 2.5 million euros to fund the restoration of Palazzo Marino, the 16th-century building in central Piazza della Scala here that has housed the city hall and local administration operations since 1861.
The fashion group will sponsor the revamp of all four external facades of the building over a surface of 57,533 square feet, and those overlooking the internal courtyard, spanning more than 23,938 square feet. During the works, which are expected to be completed in 16 months, scaffolding will read “Tod’s for Milan” as the group’s chairman and chief executive officer Diego Della Valle stressed the initiative is “for the country, with no commercial return.”
“Having a group rooted in Made in Italy and present in Milan made us feel the duty and pleasure to do something for the city, with no commercial ties, because the real message is that citizens and companies need to do more and more initiatives with public [institutions] to deliver benefits to people, especially now,” said Della Valle at a press conference arranged last-minute on Friday morning.
“We’ve been great advocates of this approach to support important causes,” he continued, mentioning building a shoe manufacturing plant in Italy’s Arquata del Tronto in 2017, a town hit by a deadly earthquake a year earlier, among other initiatives.
“It would be nice that companies — many of which are already committed to this — make an effort to try and collaborate,” said Della Valle, who admitted it is only fair to criticize what needs to be corrected but that it is even more important to be active in trying to fix things. “This project is a Milanese one, but there are plenty of others that can be done across the country and I wish that with an initiative like Palazzo Marino’s, the curiosity and interest of other companies [in doing the same] can grow, too.
“We have a worldwide situation that is extremely complicated, with wars, uncertainties and economies that are not working. Now more than ever it’s essential that businesses pay more attention to reconstruction and public projects,” continued Della Valle. He urged taking action quickly to improve the “terrible prospects” people are facing. “Just go out into the streets, in Milan and in other Italian cities, and you realize what the situation is, which was worsened after the pandemic.”
The executive met with Milan’s Mayor Giuseppe Sala a day earlier, when it was revealed that the Tod’s Group won the bid that the administration launched in April seeking a private partner to support the restoration works.
“Palazzo Marino is part of the identity of Milan, representing its history, its collective and shared values and the spirit with which it has faced the challenges of the times,” said Sala. “The intervention, which will start shortly, has particular importance certainly for the value of the monumental recovery but above all because it concerns the civic heart of the city and the bond of the Milanese people with their home.”
Designed by Galeazzo Alessi, Palazzo Marino stands opposite the landmark Teatro alla Scala. Della Valle has a well-established relationship with the latter as well, since Tod’s is a founding member of the Teatro alla Scala Foundation and in 2010 it agreed to contribute to support the theater’s productions for a year and help promote its values globally via a short promotional film called “An Italian Dream.”
At the time the project closely followed the announcement that Della Valle offered to finance the work needed to restore the Colosseum in Rome through a sponsorship of 25 million euros.
This remains Della Valle’s most public effort to support the country, with a commitment that has extended for more than a decade. The first part of the works on the Colosseum started in September 2013 and were completed in 2016 with the restoration of the external facade, while a second phase began in December 2018 and was completed in 2021, opening up an area that had never been accessible to visitors before.
Another phase of works is launching in the spring and will be aimed at creating a welcome area and service center, allowing visitors to access the iconic site in a more comfortable manner, mindful of the elderly and visitors with disabilities. Della Valle said these works are expected to be completed in 16 months.
“We have an important visibility worldwide. The world considers Italy a country of beauty, across every aspect, from monuments to food,” said Della Valle. “So all the things we can improve fast, they will bring us an advantage in terms of international reputation, too.…We need to make sure this Made in Italy works because it will also help all the small companies of the country to function and most of all, to give a stimulus to young people.”
Other initiatives of the group through the years include the support of Milan’s contemporary art museum PAC as well as its contribution to FAI, The National Trust for Italy, in its restoration of the hill that inspired the poem “The Infinite” by Giacomo Leopardi in the early 1800s. In addition, it implemented several social initiatives including the education of children in need in the Barra district in Naples, the support to Save the Children in its “Punti Luce” project, and a collaboration with the Patrignano community.
On Friday, Zegna also revealed a new link with the City of Milan. As reported, the Italian menswear group became the official partner for the design and care of the flowerbeds in Piazza Duomo for the next three years, as part of a project aiming to bring Oasi Zegna around the world.