Veneranda Fabbrica: the Milan Cathedral workshop
So much tradition is unusual: the "venerable workshop", the literal translation from the Italian of the cathedral workshop in Milan has existed for more than six centuries, or more precisely since 1387. At that time, Gian Galeazzo Visconti, the municipal leader of the city, laid the foundation stone of the cathedral and commissioned a committee of noblemen and clergymen to organise the construction work. As with comparable institutions in other European towns and cities such as Strasbourg, Cologne and Vienna, the workshop also took care of maintenance and restoration following completion of the cathedral in 1813. It maintains not only extensive workshops employing stone masons and other craftsmen, but also the quarry in Candoglia, Piedmont where marble has been extracted for the cathedral since construction began. The cathedral museum in the Palazzo Reale on the cathedral plaza belongs to the Fabbrica, as well as a library and the large archive dedicated to the history of the cathedral. First and foremost though the cathedral workshop supervises the continuous construction sites at the cathedral itself – these range from everyday repairs to the replacement of weathered marble elements, fundamental safety measures and technical replacements – for example upgrading the interior and exterior lighting. For this purpose the Fabbrica has an annual budget of around 30 million euros.