You could describe him as the art world’s action hero. The one who saves treasures from ruins, discovers diamonds in the rough and finds lost beauty wherever he gazes. Born in Italy and a citizen of the world, Toto Bergamo Rossi is one of the most famous Italian restorers. He learned this craft thanks to a UNESCO scholarship, and by working in Italy and France. In his beloved home town of Venice, he gave new life to iconic buildings including Ca’ Rezzonico, with its Tiepolo frescoes, the Doge’s Palace and the façade of St. Mark’s Basilica. He is the director of the Venetian Heritage Foundation, an international non-profit organisation that supports cultural projects in La Serenissima and surrounding areas that were once part of the Republic of Venice. During one of his many expeditions, he ended up on the Croatian island of Lopud where he acquired and restored an ancient monastery. It’s here, in this little paradise, that he takes time out from his globetrotting.What is your connection with craftsmanship?
At the age of 20, I was awarded a scholarship by UNESCO to specialise in the conservation of stone. This rigorous training took me to all corners of Europe, working on marble sculptures and stone buildings. Art restoration went on to be the central part of my working life, restoring important monuments, churches and buildings in Venice and beyond.How does it feature in your work and life?
Today, I use my expertise to oversee big restoration projects, where my experience in the field and acquired knowledge is invaluable. As the director of Venetian Heritage Foundation, my links to craftsmanship are multiple, from overseeing the training of artisans, ensuring that Venetian artisans receive the recognition and support they require and coordinating the restoration of precious Venetian patrimony.Do you work with craftspeople?
My entire professional life has been dedicated to working with craftspeople. Once upon a time, side by side, perched on scaffolding in a physical realm, and today using my experience to manage projects and protect important cultural heritage. From plasterers and ironmongers to glassworkers and woodworkers, I have had the privilege of working with many gifted artisans.Do you have any stories about the artisans you have selected?
They all have a rich family history and tradition for perpetuating their respective crafts, with skills passed down from generation to generation. They all come from a line of reputable Venetian masters, so the quality is extremely high. There is something special about knowing the ancestors and seeing the contemporary visions of the new generations.