il sole 24 ore – ITALY EUROPE 24 – Prato company takes lead restoring Basilica of the Nativity in Bethlehem

It’s a little known fact that an Italian company has been working abroad for the past three years on an extremely complex and meaningful project: the restoration of the Basilica of the Nativity in Bethlehem, one of the most spiritually important locations on the planet. The firm is Piacenti, of Prato.

“At this point, we’ve completed 60% of the restoration work,” says Giammarco Piacenti, chairman of the company and director on site. “We’re confident we’ll finish for 2019. There shouldn’t be any problems if financing stays on schedule.”
The company won an international tender by the Palestinian Authority for the project in 2013.
“Basically, there were three bidders. Us, a big Russian company and an American company,” he said. After the Italian company emerged victorious, it brought 170 people to the site between workers, restaurateurs and archaeologists.
The materials necessary for the restoration were transported to Bethlehem in 33 containers.

For the wood ceiling, called “The Sky,” various types of precious wood were used corresponding to the various additions that had built up over the centuries.

To blend old with new required innovative measures, Piacenti said, like the commitment to use ancient wood along with developing a special resin.

The original wall mosaics from the second half of the 1100s were cleaned and repaired, returning them once again to the light.

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