skip to Main Content
Il forte di Pola

Text: Vanesa Begić
Photos: Milivoj Mijošek

From Glas Istre August 4, 2021

Fort Bourguignon Hosts an International Project

During our visit to Fort Bourguignon in Pula, we could see that it has become a ‘restoration oasis’ with 16 students working on the conservation of the Togati (Roman statues of figures wearing togas). Professor Piantavigna of the San Zeno Salesian Institute in Verona also confirmed the importance of the initiative through which students can learn and apply current best practices.


Il Forte Bourguignon di Pola è il luogo in cui si sta realizzando un’iniziativa particolarmente interessante.

The conservation workshop will be held at the Fort until 9 August, in collaboration with the Archaeological Museum of Istria in Pula and the Salesian Institute of San Zeno in Verona, with which the Ars et Labor Foundation, based in Vodnjan, has signed a student exchange agreement.

Best Practice

From next year our students will have the chance to be their guests, thus starting an exchange of best practices in the field of the conservation of archaeological relics in stone that are part of our historical-material heritage. This year, Italian students and their tutors are working on a collection of Roman statues known as the Togati.

The Togati are part of the collection of the Archaeological Museum of Istria. As the museum is being restructured, this is an ideal time to carry out in-depth conservation work on the statues.

The director of the workshop, Đeni Bravar Gobić of the Archaeological Museum, and the director of the Fondazione Ars et Labor, Bruno Girardello.

The workshop is directed by Đeni Bravar Gobić together with Sabrina Piantavigna, restorer and professor from Verona, partner of the Foundation, and Giovanni Rossetto, expert in the restoration of stone artefacts. Both Piantavigna and Rossetto have work licenses from the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Croatia.

Ars et Labor

The Ars et Labor Foundation was founded in 2015 with the aim of promoting the conservation of Istrian and Croatian historical, artistic, and cultural heritage.

The exact location where the Togati were discovered is unknown, but it is somewhere in the area surrounding Pula. The Togati will become part of the permanent exhibition of the Archaeological Museum of Istria. Đeni Gobić Bravar explained that the students are working on cleaning and restoring the statues, providing a rare ‘hand-on’ opportunity to learn conservation skills.

One of the students, Francesca, says that it is a challenging, but interesting and stimulating restoration and that she is really satisfied with the workshop.

Professor Sabrina Piantavigna said that Pula and its surroundings have an exceptionally rich historical, cultural, and archaeological heritage, that offers an excellent experience for restoration students. It is hoped that this will be a lasting collaboration.

Gianna Fioranti, the promoter of the activity and secretary general of the Foundation, said that the project should have taken shape last year, but that due to the Covid-19 situation in Italy at the time, it was impossible for the students to get here.

Meeting Points

It all started with a chance encounter between Gianna Fioranti from Vodnjan and Bruno Girardello from Venice, whose enthusiasm and indescribable energy helped to start the activity of the Foundation, which is based in Vodnjan. They met in Gianna Fioranti’s 18th-century family home.

The goal of the Foundation is to promote cultural activities directly related to Istria and Croatia, and to their history and traditions that are meeting points between peoples, cultures, and civilizations.

Student accommodation is provided by Locanda San Martin, an inn restored by the Ars et Labor Foundation to host their members, friends, and students. The restoration of the building was part of the Foundation’s initial activity relating to the presentation and implementation of the Stari grad (Ancient City) project that focused on the enhancement and revitalization of abandoned historic buildings while respecting their original structure.

The promotion of the linguistic, historical, and archaeological cultural heritage of Vodnjan continues through various projects including the one currently underway focusing on the coats of arms of the city of Vodnjan, for which a fund-raising campaign has been launched. on

The Foundation has also devised a treasure hunt: a fun way to learn about the history and rich culture of Vodnjan, which will be tested in the next few days thanks to the participation of the students from Verona.

Back To Top