The inside of the Campanile di Giotto and of the Brunelleschi’s Dome was dirty and neglected, defaced by graffiti, lesions, crumblings, mould and guano. For the first time in its history the Campanile has been subjected to a complete cleaning to remove vandalic graffiti from marble, stone, brick, bronze, iron, plaster and wood surfaces.
The preliminary analysis of the agents categorized the substance of the graffiti – spray paint, felt – tip paint, pen, crayon, pencil, lipsticks…
The graffiti removal procedure involves many phases and techniques to protect the original surface. The procedure can be long – lasting and complicated: sometimes the penetration level of the graffiti is such that it is just impossible to remove them completely. The best graffiti removal procedure involves a glycolic – based low – toxic gel. The gel is applied over the surfaces for 10 minutes: a high level penetration of the graffiti could need many applications. The gel insists better on the surface and it facilitates the swelling and remotion of the substance.
The residues are removed after the application using dry cotton swabs, soft brushes, and then washing the surface with demineralized water and / or acetone: this procedure avoids the spreading of the substance over the surface or within the porous substrate.
In some cases the chemical composition of the substance or a high level of degradation of the surface need different procedures, such as the laser removal, which provides fast, good results but it is not always feasible in small spaces. The laser removal consists of the vaporization or photoablation of the substance from the surface, avoiding the damage of the substrate.
Sometimes it is necessary to combine the two procedures, starting with the gel and then using the laser removal as well. The cleaning of the Campanile di Giotto and the graffiti removal was entirely performed by Opera di Santa Maria del Fiore’s employees, under the direction of Beatrice Agostini, architect. The works lasted for three months and they needed all the skills of the restorers’ staff: Marco Bartoli, Tommaso Bogi, Paolo Bussotti, Lorenzo Calcinai, Andrea Dainelli, Claudio Marcelli, Antonio Rimediotti, Roberto Talluri and Cosimo Tosi, supervised by Marcello del Colle.
The Campanile di Giotto’s graffiti
A photo – gallery of the Campanile and its walkways before the cleaning.