The Power of Florence (First Part)

By Saverio Pacchioni (Music Senior Editor)

As everybody knows, the first G7 of culture ever recently took place in Florence. At the end of the meeting, the ministers responsible for culture of the seven richest countries of the world approved a declaration recognizing the role of culture as an instrument for dialogue among peoples as well as a tool for social and economic growth. They also stated the importance of a common action to strengthen the safeguarding of cultural heritage, including the commitment to fight the looting and the illicit trafficking of cultural goods. Apparently, these declarations are full of rhetoric and may sound obvious, but in the context of international diplomacy, they are important steps in order to reach a platform and to set a precedent.

Certainly, Florence was the perfect place for this kind of summit. Here is located the Opificio delle Pietre Dure, founded by Ferdinando I de’ Medici to produce astonishing semi-precious stones inlay furnishings and over time transformed in an advanced, world-leading, institute of restoration.

The Opificio boasts countless extraordinary works of restoration, the latest one carried out concerning Leonardo da Vinci’s Adorazione dei Magi, just gone back to the Uffizi after years of careful work. The restoration unveiled a completely new painting, revealing hidden figures, the scene of a battle (possibly a sketch for the mysterious battle of Anghiari?), animals and a surprising pale blue sky. We can also mention the two sets of the Baptistery Doors by Ghiberti, whose masterpiece, the Gates of Paradise, required thirty years of cutting-edge intervention, as much time as it took Ghiberti to realize it, while the restoration of the third and oldest set by Pisano is currently underway. As if that were not enough, a while ago we saw a mind-blowing tapestry in silk and gold of the eleventh century, gift of the Emperor of Constantinople to the Republic of Genova, ready to be sent back. Not only ancient artworks, however. To name but one, the most famous Pollock of all, the very tangled Alchemy, hung for a long time over Peggy Guggenheim’s sofa and blackened by cigarette smoke. It was so ruined that Florence Opificio was the only place in the world able to give it a new life. If Florence has always had the power of attracting people from all over the world, often transforming them, apparently this power extends to very unusual guests too!

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