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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Save Venice Foundation Visits Moscow

Arguably the best dressed group of tourists to land in Moscow, members of the Save Venice foundation were feted Thursday during a ceremony in the Kremlin Armory to thank them for a $5,000 donation.

The U.S. nonprofit organization donates money to restore Venetian art and travels to places where Venetians have had an artistic presence.

It is the first time the Kremlin museum has received money directly from foreigners, said Irina Rodimseva, director of the Kremlin museum.

It also is the first trip to Russia by the Save Venice foundation, which brought 87 people, most of them Americans.

"It's the first time here for most of these people, and surprise is not the word for it," said Save Venice Chairman Randolph Guthrie. "I would say they are astounded. Everybody thought this was some kind of Third World country where you weren't safe, and it was poor."

Russia is a fitting destination for the organization, established in 1966 in response to damaging floods in Venice. Two cathedrals in the Kremlin and the bell tower of Ivan the Great were designed by Italians at the end of the 15th and beginning of the 16th centuries.

Save Venice travels to St. Petersburg on Friday with a $15,000 check for the Hermitage Museum, the main building of which was designed by Italian architect Bartolomeo Rastrelli in the mid-18th century. The Kolomenskoye royal estate south of Moscow received $2,500.

While constructed by the same hands, Italian architecture, Russian-style, differs slightly from the real thing.

"The Venetians had to build buildings that were a little lighter, because they were building them in the mud," Guthrie said.