Councillor for Urban Planning in the Municipality Valentina Orioli comments after a meeting on the building’s future: “We must always ask ourselves if a historic building is better kept empty so as not to alter it or if, by intervening to preserve its characteristics, it’s better to put it to good use. What I would like is that it should not always be assumed that work on a fixed asset must necessarily be negative.”
Due to the historic value of the building at the beginning of Via Indipendenza Councilor Orioli was called upon to clarify the city council’s position on its future after the supermarket chain Conad applied to rent it. The decision was given the go-ahead by superintendent Cristina Ambrosini, however, it soon raised the ire of Italia Nostra and from a group of Bolognese architects and planners. Their efforts unleashed went as far as a promise to resort to legal routes in order to protect it from the supermarket. In her defence, Orioli says, “I have not seen it (the planned project), but what I have already seen some time ago is that the interior is completely empty. I reiterate that the inside of the building has already been gutted because there was a bank there before.” Some point out that, this futile defence seems to suggest that as it’s empty then the addition of a supermarket won’t cause any further damage to the interior. Monte di Pietà was a bank in the fifties and only closed a few years ago. On the other hand, the supermarket only intends to add shelves. The external façade with an adjoining portico and the inner courtyard with earthenware from the 15th and 16th centuries are instead subject to restrictions. Orioli confirms that “the current project only applies to the interior design.”
The Superintendent for example, has not granted the use of tables along the portico, as well as the use of bright neon signs. In addition, the inner courtyard where ancient terracottas are located will not be used. They are to be restored. The Superintendent has only continued the constraints, given to the bank previously, to the project presented by Conad. Nothing more, nothing less the commune confirmed. The cultural ministry in Rome carried out its verifications, summoning Ambrosini to the capital. Leaks from the insiders on the process have also disclosed that even after closing hours, when the wooden door is closed there will hardly be any outward sign that there is, in fact, a supermarket there. Orioli continues, “I agree that we should try to intervene with wise regulations but it’s a very complex subject. Decisions must be made in a thoughtful way and a very balanced approach is required. It is not only necessary to forbid an activity from time to time, but also, rather, to encourage historical shops moving forward… (this redevelopment of historical buildings) began at the beginning of the 2000s or even earlier, we certainly did not start it now. This is a great transformation which has been going on for a long time and stopping at Conad at Monte di Pietà takes us away from considering the problem as a whole.” The Councilor for Urban Planning, therefore, asks for the public’s consideration regarding the social and commercial changes that have taken place in the last twenty years.