Venice mayor defends display of sponsors' logos to pay for restoration of famed Doge's Palace

VENICE, Italy (AP) — Officials in Venice have unveiled part of the exterior of the Doge's Palace in St. Mark's Square after years of being concealed behind huge sheets for restoration work.

The euro2.8 million ($3.56 million) project to restore the gothic palace started in 2008 and will continue through next year.

Officials said 60 percent of the work had been completed, and unveiled part of the facade facing a canal on Thursday.

The facade facing St. Mark's Square and the famed Bridge of Sighs remain covered.

Venice Mayor Giorgio Orsoni defended the use of sponsors, saying the state does not have the money to pay for the work.

Restoration of the palace is considered not only necessary but also a safety issue. Last year, a piece of the building fell and almost hit a tourist.