2015
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The restoration of the Basilica of the Nativity continues

In Bethlehem, at the Basilica of the Nativity, the roofs and the aisle are being restored. It is time now to restore the mosaics, which are looking magnificent.

In Bethlehem, the restoration of the Church of the Nativity continues. Repairs started from the roof. At this moment they are repairing the aisle of the basilica, considered one of oldest and most important Byzantine art work in the world. This is a restoration that “speaks’ Italian. In fact, restoration works were entrusted to the experts’ skilled hands of ‘Piacenti Spa of Prato” Italian firm: the mosaics are being completely renewed. And while in the past mosaics used to cover the upper part of the basilica, today only a few of them remain.

Marcello Piacenti

Chief restorer of the ‘Piacenti’ Firm for the restoration of the Basilica of the Nativity

“The few fragments that remain are still intact: they maintain a structural particularity that we cannot find in other similar fragments, because they underwent ample restoration works and therefore have been compromised.
We can see workshops of very high quality, colorwise, very special glass and even gold. There are 4-5 different types of golden tiles, subtle shades in both the protection folder that ranges from the color red to warmer or cooler colors, and in the preparation of the folder in stained glass. Whereby with these effects, they were able to result in different refractions of light, in order to bring out a body, or a saint, etcetera.
The inclination of the tiles was decisive for this particular type of mosaic work.”

Different periods that testify to the continuing need of restoration for this Basilica: from Helen to Justinian, the Crusaders, the Franciscans and the Greeks.


Marcello Piacenti

Chief restorer of the ‘Piacenti’ Firm for the restoration of the Basilica of the Nativity
“This is the Crusader period, therefore the second part of 1100, that is 1160-70: a fairly accurate period, and these fully reflect those times.”


SUSANNA SARMATI
Director of Planning of the restoration of the decorative set up

“The techniques, the type of tiles used and the workmanship can certainly confirm that the historical dating of these mosaics is the Crusader period, that is the first century of the year one thousand.”

A wonderful work that brings us back in time: it feels like being with the first mosaic installers who put the mosaic on the walls for the first time.


SAMANTA GRADI
Restorer for the ‘Piacenti’ Firm
“We are applying resin injections to try to reinforce the mosaic, precisely because it shows detachments in some areas. We first injected mortar to fill these voids, especially where these voids are really small …the mortar cannot penetrate, we do these infiltrations dropping the resin through the gravity; the resin then penetrates slowly in these spaces and reinforces the mosaic.”

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