Hard marble and delicatessen as lucrative cultural food

No doubt many of us, on reading this, will remember having read this story before!

I saw Catherine and knocked on the window … We walked along together, along the sidewalk past the wine shops, then across the market square and up the street and through the archway to the cathedral square. There were street tracks and beyond them was the cathedral. It was white and wet in the mist. We crossed the tram tracks. On our left were the shops, their windows lighted, and the entrance to the galleria. There was a fog in the square and when we came close to the front of the cathedral it was very big and the stone was wet. …. “They have the cathedral,” Catherine said. We were past it now. We crossed the far end of the square and looked back to the cathedral. It was fine in the mist.

Did you recognise in these old time hazy descriptions a passage from the 23rd chapter of the famous Ernest Hemingway book “A Farewell to Arms” published in 1929? The protagonist Frederic Henry, before he returns to the front during the First World War Italian campaigns, goes to Milan to say hello to his friends and to meet the English nurse Catherine Barkley who cured his wounds.

But despite the fact that Milan has been depicted in several great books like Hemingway’s, some recent tourism statistics have revealed that just a few people nowadays really know Milan and particularly the astonishing beauties of its Duomo.

That’s why in New York recently (2014) a public charity was set up as a non-profit association called International Patrons of Duomo di Milano, with an American-Italian Board of Directors presided over by Jim Carolan, partner at Withers Bergman LLP, NY City, devoted to the acquisition, development, leasing, financing, disposition and regulatory needs of real estate investors, including foreign and domestic investors, art galleries, fashion brands, and charities and their endowments. Mr. Carolan is supported by three tough people: Gianni Baratta, general manager of the so called Fabbrica del Duomo, which in 1389 started the construction of the cathedral and still continues its maintenance; by Simone Crolla, ‎managing director of the American Chamber of Commerce in Italy; and the efficient chief development officer, Alessandra Pellegrini, president of the Arts Council, specialized in marketing strategies and fund raising.

They aim to raise public awareness throughout the world of the inestimable historical value of this magnificent “Mountain of Marble” whose maintenance actually needs a “Mountain of Euros”, precisely 13.5 million.

The sum reached up to now by the Fabbrica del Duomo is more or less half of the substantial total required to support not only the conservation, protection, restoration and valorization of this unique marble monument, but also its Archives-Library which dates back to 1386, its Museum, and the Cathedral Choir, the oldest cultural Milanese institution, created in 1402 by the famous composer Franchino Gaffurio, who was the Schola Cantorum and the Treble Choir master.

Thus the International Patrons decided to start collecting any donation to reach the goal of 100.000 Euros, which is the minimum offer requested by the Duomo fundraising to “adopt a spire” by having the sponsor’s name impressed in the marble.


Quite incredibly the New Yorkers are succeeding in their aim thanks to a partner who truly wants to raise global awareness of another exclusive, dedicated Italian best: high quality food and wine, selected among the finest of our regional products.

To achieve both results, Eataly NY, the vibrant Italian brand marketplace in New York – featuring an array of cafes, counters, restaurants, and a cooking school, decided to host the exhibition “Eataly per Duomo” in 2014.

Working together with the International Patrons and the Duomo’s managers, they brought, right to their location at 200 5th Avenue, a scale model of the golden Virgin together with some original treasures such as the statue of Saint Lucia, one spire, four gargoyles and a collection of pinnacles, even showing the delicate transport from the Duomo Terrace to the Big Apple center in a breathtaking loop documentary.

The Italo-Americans, and not only, flock to see those hand carved marble art works, dating back several centuries, and willingly offer their money.

In brief both goals were achieved!

Eataly this year will open a series of its brand new venues around the world, and the Milanese institution has added quite a lot of money to its account.

The statue of Saint Agricola

The statue of Saint Agricola


On Friday 17th June, inside the great building Eataly Smeraldo in Milan, Oscar Farinetti, the owner of the International Eataly food chain, received a pink marble plate with Eataly carved in black, in return for an official donation of 100.000 Euros to adopt the Saint Agricola spire, which stands out on the façade top at the right.

This unique symbol of the International Gothic style seems to have great opportunities to continue its “Never ending Story”. To see some beautiful images on the 11th a poetical documentary will be projected in the Duomo, “The Infinite Fabbrica del Duomo”. See Highlights on What’s O.

If anyone happens to be interested in carving their name in History, a  map of the Duomo Terrace shows the spires waiting for adoption in blue, and those already adopted in grey. http://adottaunaguglia.duomomilano.it/en/spire/.

The actual list of the 11donators at http://adottaunaguglia.duomomilano.it/en/greatdonor-list/

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