The Procuratie Vecchie, the magnificent arcaded building flanking the north side of Venice’s St. Mark’s Square, has opened to the public for the first time.
The palace is owned by insurance giant Assicurazioni Generali, which has funded a five-year restoration carried out by Milan-based architectural firm David Chipperfield Architects.
The Procuratie Vecchie were once the seat of the ‘procurators’ of Saint Mark, the second-highest officials in the government of the Republic of Venice. They are part of the Procuratie complex, which includes the Procuratie Nuove and the Procuratie Nuovissime. The three buildings are connected and run along the perimeter of St. Mark’s Square. The Procuratie Vecchie is the building that runs from the Torre dell'Orologio to the Correr Museum. The procurators were charged with administering the assets of the Church in Venice, as well as the financial affairs of religious and charitable institutions.
During the restoration of the 12,400 square meters of the three-story complex, the restorers paid particular attention to the recovery of pre-existing and recycled materials and to sustainability, so much so that the Procuratie Vecchie is a carbon neutral building in the heart of Venice. The architects worked closely with Venetian artisans for the Venetian-style flooring. The overall style is mostly marble and exposed stone in various shades of white and beige.
Besides some existing offices, the Procuratie Vecchie will host exhibition rooms, an auditorium, a café, and the offices of The Human Safety Net Foundation, a non-profit organization dedicated to social initiatives that support and enhance the lives of the most vulnerable, including children and refugees. Two terraces offer a magnificent new view of the city and the piazza.
The recovery of the Procuratie Vecchie is part of a larger redevelopment project of the area around St. Mark's Square, spearheaded by Assicurazioni Generali, which, in 2019, restored the Royal Gardens, built during Napoleon’s occupation of Italy, in collaboration with the Venice Gardens Foundation.
The long-term goal is to bring new sustainability projects and job opportunities unrelated to the travel industry in a part of Venice that relies almost exclusively on tourism.
Venetians got a sneak peek of the Procuratie Vecchie after the inauguration last week, and tourists from around the world will be able to visit starting April 13.