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Via di Vicano, 4 Loc. Massolina 50060 Pelago (FIRENZE) Italia

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Santa Maria Novella Station interior of The Feltrinelli Bookshop

Epoch of the monument: XX century

Place: Florence

Year of restoration: 2014

Category of works: OS2 – A

Client: Librerie delle Stazioni s.r.l.

Supervision: Superintendence for Architectural and Environmental Heritage of Florence

Work performed: Restoration of the Carrara marbles in the floors, the Alpi green marbles in the plinth, the wooden furniture and boiserie, the paintings and period furnishings and brass windows, fixtures and skylights


The Florence Santa Maria Novella Station, designed and built in the 1930s by architect Giovanni Michelucci, is one of the most important works in the Italian rationalist style. Standing out among the most important architectural features is the choice of materials that, thanks to the pietraforte in addition to glass and metal, blends perfectly with the other city buildings. From the facade, made of simple squared blocks, a window opens with seven large bands that continue around the building. This provides a pleasant perspective effect and illuminates the large ticket hall covered with marble, as well as the open area of the tracks, made without central support structures to ensure maximum width and vastness. The rooms of the former bar-restaurant area, whose finishes are embellished with works by Ottone Rosai and Mario Romoli, have high ceilings, marble floors and annexes, skylights, and wall decorations in Apuan marble and wood.


The restoration operations were concentrated in the rooms of the former bar and restaurant, currently occupied by the Feltrinelli bookshop. It was a particularly interesting intervention because the restorers were working with very different materials (marble, wood, canvas) with consideration of the high daily influx of visitors and the different use of the rooms themselves.


  • Analysis and diagnosis of the state of conservation of marble surfaces (floors in particular)
  • Restoration of marble surfaces and securing of the floor by grouting and reattaching the recoverable parts and integration of those irrecoverable (previously removed) with marble of the same nature and color of the original parts
  • Analysis of the state of preservation of the wooden cladding of walls and windows and internal openings in veneered plywood (veneer) of national walnut.
  • Removal of irrecoverable parts, removal of old protective treatments and restoration of all wooden surfaces with special anti-humidity and anti-wormwood products.
  • Study of the preservation and of the previous restoration works of Rosai and Romoli’s paintings, evaluation of the characteristics of the degradation and of the environmental positioning of the works
  • Targeted conservative restoration on the paintings, consolidation of the pictorial film, gentle cleaning of the surfaces and acurate pictorial integration of the degraded parts.
  • Maintenance and restoration of metal furniture such as brass plates, chandeliers, handrails, and clocks





Santa Maria Novella Station Interiors of Feltrinelli Bookshop

The floors in the various halls and the wall marbles are mainly made of Marmo Bianco Apuano with insertions of marbles of different colors and qualities. The floors showed cracks and degradation caused by heavy wear and tear due to the pedestrian passage and all the marbles were obviously dirty given the previous use of the premises.

The restoration was preceded by a visual and manual investigation, or “knocking”, to identify the various types of degradation. Following the operations of restoration, plastering, and securing, a final polishing with final protection using a siloxane water repellent solution was performed.


Santa Maria Novella Station Interior of Feltrinelli Bookshop

The state of preservation of the wooden cladding before the intervention was good, except for some areas degraded as a result of moisture absorption that had caused the detachment of the veneered parts in addition to making areas look worn. Other areas which were used for catering purposes showed blackened parts of which some appeared charred. In some places the wood was stripped down to the natural wooden fiber, and then treated with pesticide, patina and with shellac and protective wax.


Santa Maria Novella Station Interiors of Feltrinelli Bookshop

“Campagna Toscana” and “Case di Villamagna” by Ottone Rosai are two paintings made with a tempera grassa, using a natural protein binder and oil to apply the colors directly onto the prepared surface, and were made specifically in 1935 for the premises of the station. The two paintings showed small damages (ripples and detachments) due to the variable humidity of the environment and to some recent rather invasive restoration interventions, including the tearing of the pictorial film and the relocation onto multilayer panels.
The degraded points were mapped and the two paintings were cleaned and buffered to obtain a lightening and balancing of the surface while avoiding deep or radical actions, considering the different previous interventions. The intervention then undertook definitive consolidation between the preparatory layers and the surface as well as on the support itself of the paintings that presented deformations in some perimeter areas and on the anchorage inside the frame.

The painting by Mario Romoli “Scena di caccia in Toscana” (Hunting Scene in Tuscany), likely painted in oil or tempera grassa on a previously prepared wall, was also the object of a recent conservative intervention, which was visible thanks to the protective varnish that made the surface shiny. The painting had some losses and small abrasions with micro-lifting caused by condensation and weathering. The painting had an area with a pre-existing lesion that was filled in using an injection of consolidating mortar.

After the phase of flaking prevention, by means of suitable adhesive, we proceeded to the cleaning which included the lightening of the excess superficial fixative and the removal of altered pictorial retouching, allowing for an aesthetic rebalancing.
The delicate cleaning operation was carried out with the use of solvents and non-aggressive materials that allowed for control of the effects and rendering on the surface.
Finally, a pictorial retouching was performed using watercolors.