Italian Fashion CEOs Are Saving Important Monuments

Italians do it better! How do we know this? The CEOs of well-known international fashion brands like Tod’s, Fendi and Diesel Jeans are using their considerable wealth to restore popular historic monuments in Italy. Your move Zuckerberg.

The Colosseum in Rome is crumbling due to pollution and idiot tourists. Venice is sinking and deteriorating. You would think the government would invest tax payer money so that you, me and our future generations can enjoy it. Nahhh.

Among thethings that Italy is best at besides food, wine, fashion and good looking people is corruption and bureaucracy. Taxes go unpaid, the police force that protects the Pope and Vatican City is mired in jurisdiction confusion and there’s always something shady going on to fleece locals and tourists. So you can see why maintaining important monuments can get caught up in red tape.

In steps in Diego Della Valle, Renzo Rosso, Silvia Venturini Fendi and the Ferragamo family– the unofficial rulers of Italian culture. Della Valle is President and CEO of Tod’s, the leather goods company that his grandfather started. Rossi is the mastermind co-founder of Diesel jeans, who know runs OTB group (Diesel, Viktor & Rolf, DSquared², Just Cavalli). As you can guess, Fendi runs the family’s luxury fashion brand. The Ferragamos are currently donating money to update the Uffizi Museum’s air conditioning in Florence. That’s pretty cool.

Together, they are using their considerable wealth to aide in the restoration of these monuments. In a 60 Minutes profile in 2o14, Fendi talked about her efforts to restore the Trevi Fountain,  “It means that you will be in good health in order to come back. So it’s very important for us. This country gave us a lot. And so it’s nice at a point to give back something.”

While we associate Diesel with high style and expensive goods, Rosso, son of a farmer, built the company from the ground up. So he owes all his success to Italy, but he hates what he sees from the government. He’s currently funding the restoration of the Rialto Bridge. “The Italian people are tired of this corruption. Because we have too many people that steal, too many people that put the money in his pocket. We have 40 percent of people who don’t pay tax. Can you imagine? Forty percent. It’s unbelievable,” he told CBS.

This being Italy, there’s a catch. When you buy a ticket to tour the Colosseum, guess what brand you’ll see printed on the ticket? From Newsweek:

Tod’s Chief Executive Diego Della Valle came under fire after it emerged that, in exchange for restoring the Coliseum, Tod’s negotiated the right to publish its logo on tickets to the venue, which are bought by more than 6 million tourists every year. Images began circulating on the Internet showing the 2,000-year-old amphitheater displaying the company’s logo. A consumer group went to court to block the deal, and the country’s antitrust authority probed precisely how Tod’s had secured the deal. (A judge dismissed the case after two years of hearings.)

I think it’s a small price to pay. Della Valle has spent €25 million of his €1.2 billion fortune in this endeavor.  I can’t afford any of these company’s goods, so go wild with the philanthropy.

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