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.'


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)

peopleFrankie Boyle responds to referendum result in characteristically offensive style
Life and Style
Couples have been having sex less in 2014, according to a new survey
New Articles
i100... with this review
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Holly's review of Peterborough's Pizza Express quickly went viral on social media
footballTim Sherwood: This might be th match to wake up Manchester City
Arts and Entertainment
musicHow female vocalists are now writing their own hits
New Articles
Arts and Entertainment
musicBiographer Hunter Davies has collected nearly a hundred original manuscripts
Blahnik says: 'I think I understand the English more than they do themselves'
Arts and Entertainment
Michelle Dockery as Lady Mary Crawley in Downton Abbey
TVInside Downton Abbey series 5
Life and Style
The term 'normcore' was given the oxygen of publicity by New York magazine during the autumn/winter shows in Paris in February
fashionWhen is a trend a non-trend? When it's Normcore, since you ask
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Marketing Manager - Leicestershire - £35,000

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager (CIM, B2B, MS Offi...

Marketing Executive (B2B and B2C) - Rugby, Warwickshire

£22000 - £25000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A highly successful organisation wit...

SEN Coordinator + Teacher (SENCO)

£1 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Job Purpose To work closely with the he...

Research Manager - Quantitative/Qualitative

£32000 - £42000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client is curr...

Day In a Page

Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam