Work on the first phase of the restoration of the Old Jewish Cemetery
on the Venice Lido began in June, 1998. This intervention, under
the supervision of Venice’s Rabbi Roberto della Rocca and the Superintendent
of Monuments for Venice, includes the rebuilding of the exterior walls,
the drainage of the far end of the site, the turning over of several tombstones
and eventual transcription of the
epitaphs on these stones. Already, the work has revealed several remarkable stones -- many with carved decorative reliefs. These stones were apparently moved to their present site when the current lagoon road was constructed early in this century, at which time the part of the cemetery closest to the lagoon shore was paved over. According to World Monuments Fund’s representative Donatella Asta, twelve columns belonging to a family from Cividale have also been uncovered. Their original context remains unclear.
The second phase of conservation work will address aesthetic concerns: control of the vegetation, cleaning of gravestones and removal of the ones turned down, and the preparation of visitors' itinerary that will allow maximum visibility of the tombs with minimum risk, and will not compromise the long-admired romantic look of the place.
In addition to substantial Italian government support, the cemetery restoration is supported by the private preservation groups Save Venice and the World Monuments Fund. Supporters includes the Scheuer Family Foundation, the Ronald S. Lauder Foundation and Mrs. Joyce Greenberg.– SG
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