"It meant saving the cultural wealth of Florence. It was a race against time"

An account by Dott.ssa Anna Maria Petrioli Tofani (I)

"I was one of the volunteers who took part in the recovery of the flooded treasures. The Head of the Board of Artistic Assets sent me to the sacristy of Santa Croce because the people working there had noticed that the tessere in the inlaid work were coming out as the floodwaters went down.

After that I was sent to the Horne Museum and started work on the tondo by Beccafumi and the entire collection of paintings. The painted works at the Horne Museum were also in some danger of losing all their surface paint as they gradually dried out. My work consisted in sticking pieces of gauze onto the surface with a special glue.

I realised that all of these works were important because it meant saving the cultural wealth of Florence. It was a race against time.

I also had an accident that, fortunately for me, ended up without any serious consequences: I fell down a manhole (the cover had been washed away in the flood) while I was walking through half a metre of mud. I was taken to hospital and was lucky enough only to need an antitetanus injection.

From the humanitarian point of view, I saw many tragic situations about which unfortunately I could do nothing, partly because I did not have the means and also because, in that particular moment, my task as an art historian consisted in doing all I could to save Florence's works of art".

Dott.ssa Anna Maria Tofani is now director of the Uffizi Gallery.



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