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How Diesel Founder Renzo Rosso Helped Restore This Italian Icon

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One of Italy’s most popular tourist attractions received a major glow-up from Diesel’s founder and parent company.

Last week, Venice celebrated the completion of a full restoration of the Rialto Bridge, which was funded by contributions from Renzo Rosso, OTB Group and OTB Foundation, the company’s nonprofit that works on hundreds of social development projects around the world.

Though the $6 million head-to-toe project was completed in 2019 after beginning in 2015, organizers had postponed the inauguration ceremony twice due to Covid-19. On Tuesday, with the Venice Film Festival taking place and late summer tourists enjoying views from the bridge, the city celebrated the project with a ribbon-cutting ceremony and performance by tenor Andrea Bocelli. An inlaid plaque on the ground at the center of the bridge commemorates OTB’s contribution.

The bridge is one of the most important and famous monuments in Italy.

If Diesel existed in the 15th century, the Rialto Bridge might have been a gateway to new business. The oldest of the four bridges spanning the Venice’s Grand Canal, known for its two rows of shops and stone archways, was built to link the wider city to the Rialto’s commercial center. To this day, the area is still a buzzing retail district and home to the city’s famous fish market.

In 2012, OTB won the bid with the City of Venice to fund the restoration of the Rialto Bridge. The work had “minimal impact on the Venetian community and on the flow of pedestrians crossing the bridge daily,” OTB reported. It also came in under budget. Rosso applied the cost savings to the restoration of the floors of the adjacent arcades that lead to the market.

“It’s been 450 years since it was built. It required meticulous work,” Rosso said in an interview with Agence France-Presse.

Rosso and OTB Group are strong supporters of preserving Italian history. Last weekend, Diesel contributed to GenovaJeans, a five-day consumer-facing event that highlighted Genoa, Italy’s history in denim. One of the most notable attractions was Diesel’s historical reproduction of the oldest jeans fabric ever documented in history.

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