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Tod’s, Diego Della Valle Give Back to Milan

The restoration of Milan’s city hall, sponsored by the Italian luxury group, officially kicked off on Friday.

Tod’s, Diego Della Valle Give Back to Milan

The “Tod’s for Milano” sign on Palazzo Marino

MILAN — With one swift pull, Tod’s Group chairman and chief executive officer Diego Della Valle on Friday rolled down the curtain that hid the scaffolding covering part of the facade of Milan’s city hall, flanked by Mayor Giuseppe Sala. The event, which drew plenty of onlookers in the square where the building stands opposite the La Scala theater, signaled the beginning of the restoration works sponsored by the luxury group to the tune of 2.5 million euros. These are expected to span 16 months.

“This is the home of the Milanese, a building they love and respect and since our ambition is to complete the works by September 2025, Diego Della Valle suggested we celebrate with the city with a party and risotto with ossobuco [typical rice with a veal stew],” Sala said to a round of chuckles.

The building, Palazzo Marino, dates back to the 16th century, has housed the city hall and local administration operations since 1861 and attracts around 5,000 visitors a year. The last time it was restored was at the end of the ‘80s.

Della Valle admitted that seeing the “Tod’s for Milan” plaque appear on “one of the most representative buildings in the city” did not leave him unmoved. He has over the years invested in supporting several restoration projects — that of the Colosseum in Rome perhaps his most internationally famous — and, as he has in the past, he reiterated that he is driven by “a strong social attitude” of giving back, and not for financial gain.

He stressed that the Tod’s sign is “discreet” on the city hall in Milan as he does “not share the need to set in motion a communication invasion, taking buildings hostage, driven by commercial goals [with huge advertisements]. Of course, companies must make a profit, but we should not forget that we also have moral responsibilities,” he said.

He did not shy away from controversial issues and while conceding Milan’s stance as an international metropolis, he admitted that the ”social division is very strong” at the moment, and citizens — especially young people — are weighed down by high rents and the cost of living.

The message he wanted to deliver, he said, was not that the works are beginning but that “Milan and the country need our support and we must respond by providing it.”

The works on each of the four facades will take about four months, over a total of 54,000 square feet. The walls overlooking the courtyard, covering more than 21,600 square feet, will also be restored. The scaffolding covering the building during the work features illustrations on the history of the palazzo until today.

Architect Paolo Pecorelli, whose studio has restored the facade of the storied luxury Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II in the city, among other projects, said that “the decay of the materials employed on Palazzo Marino is not always visible, but it is dangerous, and could lead to the detachment of portions of the walls.”

In 2011, Della Valle offered to finance the work needed to restore the Colosseum in Rome through a sponsorship of 25 million euros, with a commitment that has extended for more than a decade.

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; support of Save the Children in its “Punti Luce” project, and a collaboration with the Patrignano community. The group also built a shoe manufacturing plant in Italy’s Arquata del Tronto in 2017, a town hit by a deadly earthquake a year earlier.