ROME – Experts from a Venetian island famous for its glass-making are trying to save and restore four century-old crystal chandeliers caught up in an earthquake that damaged a town hall in northeast Italy.
Workers aided by firefighters used a telescopic crane this week to remove the chandeliers from Sant'Agostino, the largest of which weighed 300 kilograms (more than 660 pounds), according to the Promovetro glass-makers consortium.
The chandeliers were then disassembled and moved to the Palazzo Ducale in nearby Sassuole to be restored. A fifth chandelier was lost under the rubble of the May 20 quake that severely damaged the town hall, collapsing part of the roof and leaving gaping holes in the side.
"These objects are like sons for the glass-makers in this area," Sergio Malara, a consortium expert who coordinated the removal, said Friday by phone from the glass-making island of Murano. "For them, it was like saving a person, a piece of history. This is why we all intervened immediately, and without asking for any financial return."
Malara said the mission that brought the glass experts from Murano to Sant'Agostino to save the chandeliers was undertaken at the request of the Italian Cultural Minister. It is not known if the chandeliers will eventually return to their original location because the town hall is expected to be demolished.
The four chandeliers, with several levels of glass-blown flowers and curls, are in the so-called Rezzonico style invented in the 18th century for the noble Italian family Rezzonico, who originally commissioned similar works for their palace on the Canal Grande, in the heart of Venice.
The largest chandelier, comprised of 56 arms, is worth €200,000 ($250,000). The value of the lost chandelier is estimated at several thousand euros.