Art triumphs over terrorism at the Uffizi: People in Florence have rallied to the aid of their museum, where staff are working round the clock to reopen next Sunday, writes Patricia Clough

THE SOUND of hammering, the whine of drills and the shouts of workmen echo into the night as staff of the Uffizi work almost round the clock to reopen part of their bomb- damaged museum to the public.

Joiners are replacing the windows blown out on 27 May by 200kg of explosive in a terrorist car-bomb that killed five people and badly damaged the west wing of the museum. Workmen haul materials, replaster walls and mend stairs while plastic sheeting billows over the wrecked roof.

Reopening day has been fixed for Sunday 20 June, 'and we shall make it', Anna Maria Petrioli Tofani, the museum's director, said confidently. Visitors will once again be able to enter the east wing and see most of its greatest treasures: paintings by Giotto, Gentile da Fabriano, Piero della Francesca, Filippo Lippi, Botticelli, Leonardo and Mantegna.

Some of the most important works from the west wing will be on display in the former church of San Piero Scheraggio, an llth-century building incorporated into the ground floor of the Uffizi. They will include Michelangelo's Doni Tondo, a round painting of the Holy Family, Raphael's Madonna with a Goldfinch, Titian's Flora, Caravaggio's Young Bacchus and self-portraits by Rembrandt.

'About 80 per cent of the works that people come to the Uffizi to see will be on display,' said Dr Petrioli. The west wing will take 'months' to repair. The speed with which the Uffizi is being re-opened is due to the concerted action by its 150-odd staff who, without exception, agreed to work all hours without overtime pay to get the building back in shape. Otherwise, Dr Petrioli said she would have had to bring in outside help which would have been much slower and much more expensive.

But the speed also depends on contributions from Uffizi fans - and this is where Independent readers come in. The Independent, with its Italian and Spanish partners, La Repubblica and El Pais, is appealing to readers for funds to help repair and restore the Uffizi. US museums and others are making similar appeals.

'These donations will serve as ready funds to enable us to by-pass the bureaucracy so we can get the work finished fast, without any interruptions,' Dr Petrioli said. 'The situation of the Italian deficit is dramatic . . . obviously the state won't abandon us, but money will be very slow in coming. After all, they cannot take funds away from hospitals, for instance, to give to the Uffizi.'

Moreover, few know as well as the custodians of Italy's art treasures how slowly the state machinery grinds, and how long it takes before cash, when there is any, emerges from the bureaucratic pipeline. Italy is dotted with churches, beautiful buildings and monuments that have been covered in scaffolding for years because the money has run out.

After the bomb, the Italian government earmarked 30bn lire ( pounds 13.6m) for repairs, which must be shared with the Accademia dei Georgofili, a venerable agricultural institute which is housed in the same building. But already Dr Petrioli estimates that the bill is more likely to be around 50bn lire. She has no idea yet how much the voluntary donations will amount to 'but I don't imagine it will cover the extra 20bn'.

Sooner or later the government will have to find the rest, but the chances are it will be later, rather than sooner.

The saddest sights in the Uffizi are the three ruined paintings lying on the floor: Gherardo delle Notti's Adoration of the Shepherds, and two by Bartolomeo Manfredi. Two were reduced to tattered canvas by the blast, with only patches of paint still sticking in places. The third consists of only a few pathetic shreds. The 40- odd pictures that were cut by flying glass or had pieces of paint blown away, have been pasted over with fine paper to preserve loose paint and stored to await restoration. Three damaged Roman and Greek statues will also be restored.

The good news is that the structure of the Uffizi - built in the 16th century by Giorgio Vasari, one of the greatest architects and painters of his day, for Grand Duke Cosimo I de' Medici as administrative offices for the Grand Duchy of Tuscany - is undamaged. But it will need very specialised restoration work with the materials used when it was built.

To Independent readers she said: 'I would like people to realise that what is happening here in Florence is the contrary of what the terrorists intended.' There had been tremendous solidarity, with everyone forgetting their quarrels and joining in to help. 'First there was shock, then anger, then the urge to reconstruct . . . If the terrorists wanted to bring a nation to its knees they have achieved exactly the opposite. It is important to give a sign of this.'

HELP THE RESTORATION

THE Independent has joined an appeal launched by the Italian daily newspaper La Repubblica to raise funds to help restore the Uffizi museum. Readers who wish to contribute should send cheques (payable to The Uffizi Appeal) to The Uffizi Appeal c/o The Independent, 40 City Road, London EC1Y 2DB. Credit card and charity aid voucher contributions cannot be accepted.

On 26 June, the Rossini Chamber Orchestra will be giving a concert in aid of the Uffizi. The orchestra, conducted by Alexander Bryett, will play a programme of Mozart, Boccherini and Giovanni Cambini. The concert, starting at 7.30pm will be held at St Mary Abbots Church, High Street, Kensington, London W8. For further details, contact Opera Italiana on 071-736 3821.

(Photograph omitted)

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Sport
Shinji Kagawa and Reece James celebrate after the latter scores in Manchester United's 7-0 victory over LA Galaxy
football
Voices
voicesGood for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, writes Grace Dent
Sport
Farah returns to the track with something to prove
Commonwealth games
Life and Style
fashion Designs are part of feminist art project by a British student
Arts and Entertainment
The Tour de France peloton rides over a bridge on the Grinton Moor, Yorkshire, earlier this month
film
News
Very tasty: Vladimir Putin dining alone, perhaps sensibly
news
Arts and Entertainment
Top guns: Cole advised the makers of Second World War film Fury, starring Brad Pitt
filmLt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a uniform
Life and Style
Listen here: Apple EarPods offer an alternative
techAre custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?
News
Snoop Dogg pictured at The Hollywood Reporter Nominees' Night in February, 2013
people... says Snoop Dogg
News
The University of California study monitored the reaction of 36 dogs
sciencePets' range of emotions revealed
Arts and Entertainment
A scene from Shakespeare in Love at the Noel Coward Theatre
theatreReview: Shakespeare in Love has moments of sheer stage poetry mixed with effervescent fun
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Head of Sales, Bristol

£70 - 90K OTE £125K. Plus Car,Private Healthcare and Pension: Charter Selectio...

Head of Sales, Birmingham

£70 - 90K OTE £125K. Plus Car,Private Healthcare and Pension: Charter Selectio...

Head of Sales, Manchester

£70 - 90K OTE £125K. Plus Car,Private Healthcare and Pension: Charter Selectio...

Are you a Newly Qualified Teacher (NQT)

£100 - £115 per day: Randstad Education Cardiff: Randstad Education are active...

Day In a Page

Screwing your way to the top? Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth

Screwing your way to the top?

Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, says Grace Dent
Will the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?

Will Britons fighting in Syria be able to resume their lives?

Tony Blair's Terrorism Act 2006 has made it an offence to take part in military action abroad with a "political, ideological, religious or racial motive"
Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter, the wartime poster girl who became a feminist pin-up

Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter

The wartime poster girl became the ultimate American symbol of female empowerment
The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones: Are custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?

The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones

Earphones don't fit properly, offer mediocre audio quality and can even be painful. So the quest to design the perfect pair is music to Seth Stevenson's ears
US Army's shooting star: Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform

Meet the US Army's shooting star

Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform
Climate change threatens to make the antarctic fur seal extinct

Take a good look while you can

How climate change could wipe out this seal
Should emergency hospital weddings be made easier for the terminally ill?

Farewell, my lovely

Should emergency hospital weddings be made easier?
Man Booker Prize 2014 longlist: Crowdfunded novel nominated for first time

Crowdfunded novel nominated for Booker Prize

Paul Kingsnorth's 'The Wake' is in contention for the prestigious award
Vladimir Putin employs a full-time food taster to ensure his meals aren't poisoned

Vladimir Putin employs a full-time food taster

John Walsh salutes those brave souls who have, throughout history, put their knives on the line
Tour de France effect brings Hollywood blockbusters to Yorkshire

Tour de France effect brings Hollywood blockbusters to Yorkshire

A $25m thriller starring Sam Worthington to be made in God's Own Country
Will The Minerva Project - the first 'elite' American university to be launched in a century - change the face of higher learning?

Will The Minerva Project change the face of higher learning?

The university has no lecture halls, no debating societies, no sports teams and no fraternities. Instead, the 33 students who have made the cut at Minerva, will travel the world and change the face of higher learning
The 10 best pedicure products

Feet treat: 10 best pedicure products

Bags packed and all prepped for holidays, but feet in a state? Get them flip-flop-ready with our pick of the items for a DIY treatment
Commonwealth Games 2014: Great Scots! Planes and pipers welcome in Glasgow's Games

Commonwealth Games 2014

Great Scots! Planes and pipers welcome in Glasgow's Games
Jack Pitt-Brooke: Manchester City and Patrick Vieira make the right stand on racism

Jack Pitt-Brooke

Manchester City and Patrick Vieira make the right stand on racism
How Terry Newton tragedy made iron men seek help to tackle their psychological demons

How Newton tragedy made iron men seek help to tackle their psychological demons

Over a hundred rugby league players have contacted clinic to deal with mental challenges of game