The Uffizi bomb: The Galleries reopen

£13 million voted by the government has yet to arrive: most of the restoration has so far been paid for by public donation. Alberto Ronchey, Minister for Culture, has declared his aim to see thirty new rooms created within three years in former storage space, tripling the size of the Uffizi


The destruction caused by a car bomb that exploded early in the morning of 27 May in the via dei Georgofili, just to the west of the Uffizi gallery, has already been documented in the press. The east wing of the Uffizi is once more open to the public (from 11 am to 6 pm) but damage is still coming to light. Fragments continue to fall from the decorative ceiling designed by Vasari in the Salone dei Cinquecento in Palazzo Vecchio (cost of overall repair to the Palazzo is estimated at £450,000, largely because so many windows were shattered); the deconsecrated church of Santo Stefano near Ponte Vecchio is closed because of structural damage (the bell tower has to be demolished and rebuilt); structural damage to the Vasari corridor that leads from the Uffizi over the Ponte Vecchio to the Pitti Palace is more serious than originally supposed (part of the roof is in danger of collapse); and it has been confirmed that the computerised catalogue to the collections in the Uffizi, which had taken ten years to compile, was completely destroyed. On a positive note, three masterpieces from Uffizi rooms now closed, the Doni Tondo by Michelangelo, Titian's "Flora" and Caravaggio's "Bacchus" are now on show in S. Pier Scheraggio in via della Ninna. Trained picture restorers have been working night and day in the Uffizi while volunteers (again with expert knowledge) from the Biblioteca Nazionale and the Marucelliana in Florence have succeeded in recovering 60,000 volumes from the highly important but little known agrarian academy of the Georgofili: the aftermath of the Florence flood of 1966 built up a considerable body of expertise which has now been called into play. The Accademia Economico Agraria dei Georgofili, founded in 1753 by Ubaldo Montelatici, took the full force of the blast: the face of the fourteenth-century Torre de' Pulci was blown away, pietra serena doorways and the vaulting of rooms in the academy have been split apart. The President, Professor Franco Scaramuzzi, has announced that the Accademia will be rebuilt using the original stones as much as possible, while the books and archive (recovered intact from the explosion) as well as the catalogue system (which had to be completely reconstituted after the 1966 flood) have been moved to the Sala Magliabechiana nearby. Works include the famous "Ortus Sanitatis" published in Venice in 1511. Those torn apart by the blast or cut by flying fragments of masonry or glass have suffered the most damage, some are fragile from earlier flood damage. The Accademia's programme of publications, promotion of study and organisation of conferences, with which it has been involved from its earliest days continues uninterrupted however. The oldest academy of its type in Europe, its original brief was to spur agricultural reform in Tuscany. Its reputation was such that members were consulted by Napoleon in drawing up the Rural Code that formed part of his Civil Code in 1804. Corresponding members have included Presidents of the United States Jefferson, Madison and Monroe.

Rooms now open are:

Medieval painting, international Gothic, early Renaissance, Filippo Lippi, Pollaiuoli, Botticelli, Leonardo, maps and charts, the Tribuna, Perugino and Signorelli, German Renaissance, Venetian painting (Bellini, Giorgione, Carpaccio), Flemish painting, cabinet of miniatures. The corridoio panoramico and the third corridor as far as the Loggia dei Lanzi can also be visited. The Buontalenti staircase has been restored in record time.

Works of art destroyed or damaged by the bomb


Gherardo delle Notti "Adoration of the Shepherds" (Inv. 1890, no. 772), Vasari Corridor

Bartolomeo Manfredi "Card players" (unnumbered in inventory), Vasari Corridor

Bartolomeo Manfredi "Concert" (Inv. 1890, no. 4359), Vasari Corridor

Damaged paintings

Sebastiano del Piombo "Death of Adonis" (Inv. 916), room 32

G. Pagani "Pyramus and Thisbe" (Inv. 1890, no. 5472), room 35

Rubens "Henry IV at the Battle of Ivry" (Inv. 1890, no. 722), room 41

Rubens "Portrait of Philip IV of Spain" (Inv. 1890, no. 792), room 41

Claude Lorrain "Doorway of the Villa Medici" (Inv. 1096), room 43

Bernini "Head of an angel" (Inv, 1890, no. 4882), room 43

Cristofano dell'Altissimo "Portrait of Giovanni della Casa" (Inv. 1890, no. 217), third corridor

Gherardo delle Notti "Adoration of the Infant Christ" (Inv. 1890, no. 739)

Gherardo delle Notti "Fortuna" (Inv. 1890, no. 734), Vasari Corridor

Bartolomeo Manfredi "Disputation of the doctors" (Inv. 1890, no. 767), Vasari Corridor

F. Rustici "Death of Lucrezia" (Inv. 1890, no. 6421), Vasari Corridor

A. Gentileschi "Judith and Holofernes" (Inv. 1890, no. 1567), Vasari Corridor

A. Gentileschi "Saint Catherine" (Inv. 1890, no. 8032), Vasari Corridor

G. Reni "David with the head of Goliath" (Inv. 1890, no. 3830), Vasari Corridor

B. Strozzi "Parable of the wedding gift" (Inv. 1890, no. 9468), Vasari Corridor

Empoli "Still life" (Inv. 1890, no. 8442), Vasari Corridor

Empoli "Still life" (Inv. 1890, no. 8441), Vasari Corridor

R. Manetti "Massiniss and Sophonisba" (Inv. 1890, no. 5484), Vasari Corridor

G.B. Spinelli "David victorious, with young girls" (Inv. 1890, no. 9468), Vasari Corridor

N. Regnier "Scene of game playing" (Inv. 1890, no. 9460), Vasari Corridor

School of Caravaggio "Incredulity of Saint Thomas" in storage

Valentin "Dice players" (Inv. 1809, no. 6649), Vasari Corridor

School of Caravaggio "Freeing of Saint Peter" (Inv. 1890, no. 578), Vasari Corridor

Borgognone "Battle of Radicofani" (Inv. 1890, no. 972), Vasari Corridor

M. Caffi "Flowers" (Inv. Castello, no. 576), Vasari Corridor

M. Caffi "Flowers" (Inv. Castello, no. 578), Vasari Corridor

Van der Weyden "Deposition in the tomb" (Inv. 1890, no. 1114), in storage

Damaged sculpture

Hellenistic "Dying niobid" (Inv. 1914, no. 298), room 42

Roman "Head of a young boy" (Inv. 1914, no. 53), third corridor

Roman copy of the Discobolos (Inv. 1914, no. 212), third corridor

IN ADDITION the following works of art were damaged in adjacent rooms of buildings:

Two large seventeenth-/eighteenth-century canvases in the Accademia dei Georgofili

Two paintings by Bartolomeo Bimbi and Scacciati on loan from the Florentine Soprintendenza destroyed

The Catalogue Office was seriously damaged and the museum's archive from the eighteenth century onwards will be moved