A bolt of lightning has damaged an outer wall of the Scrovegni Chapel in Padova, prompting fear that the precious early 14th century frescoes by Giotto preserved inside could also be damaged.
The incident happened two weeks ago, but it has only just now been made public. The mayor of Padova, Massimo Bitonci, said on Thursday that the lightning damaged the chapel’s internal electrical system, including lights, security and humidity control. He explained that technicians have inspected the roof of the chapel and other parts of the historic building for potential damage. It appears Giotto’s frescoes, painted between 1303 and 1305, were undamaged, while an iron cross dating from the chapel’s earliest days had to be removed because it was in danger of falling from the damaged facade.
Giuliano Pisani, a Giotto expert and former city councillor for cultural affairs, said it was "absolutely outrageous" that the public learned what happened from a local cultural association and not from the city of Padova itself, especially given the importance of the chapel – Giotto’s cycle of frescoes there is considered one of the most important masterpieces of Western art.
The fresco cycles, commissioned by banker Enrico Scrovegni, cover three walls, from floor to ceiling.