CASTAGNO D’ANDREA, Italy — This tiny hamlet with a inhabitants of round 300, situated 40 winding miles northeast of Florence, has by no means been on Italy’s must-see A-list. Its predominant declare to fame is that it was the birthplace of the Renaissance painter Andrea del Castagno, who left as a toddler, most certainly earlier than he was sufficiently old to doodle on the native partitions. (If he did, there are not any remnants of his scrawls.)
However this summer season, cultural tourism right here sharply elevated after the Uffizi Gallery lent the village a just lately restored del Castagno fresco depicting the poet Dante Alighieri. The mortgage coincides with nationwide celebrations for the 700th anniversary of Dante’s demise, in addition to the 600th anniversary of the artist’s delivery.
The fresco’s arrival was one of many first actions in a program referred to as “Uffizi Diffusi,” or “Scattered Uffizi,” an initiative concocted by the gallery’s director, Eike Schmidt. Uffizi Diffusi goals to construct stronger ties between the well-known Florentine museum and cities scattered all through the encompassing Tuscany area by lending them artworks normally saved in storage.
“As with all huge museums, what now we have on view is barely a small half” of the gathering, Schmidt stated in a phone interview. However few different museums can declare to have so many masterpieces that they’ll hold a Botticelli locked away from view. (The Uffizi can.)
As an alternative of following within the footsteps of the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, which opened a department in Dundee, Scotland, or the Louvre, which opened an outpost in Lens, France, Schmidt stated that he wished to go in “a barely completely different course and actually activate the complete area,” utilizing the Uffizi model as a calling card.
“You couldn’t try this in all elements of the world,” Schmidt stated. “However I believe, in Tuscany, it’s an ideal alternative,” he added, due to the gathering’s connection to the area. To bolster visibility, the Uffizi is utilizing its common social media accounts to plug the venues collaborating within the initiative.
The del Castagno fresco is without doubt one of the earliest surviving portraits of Dante, and exhibiting it in Castagno d’Andrea was “a dream come true” for Emanuele Piani, the mayor of San Godenzo, a close-by city that features the hamlet in its jurisdiction.
The fresco has been put in within the first room of what native officers have referred to as a “digital museum” of del Castagno’s works, consisting principally of images of the artist’s best hits, reproduced on a shrunken scale. The museum is contained in the guests’ middle of the realm’s nationwide park, whose historical beech forests had been added in 2017 to UNESCO’s World Heritage Record.
“Tourism to the realm is normally linked to the nationwide park,” principally drawing trekkers and cyclists, Piani stated. The mortgage of the fresco “is a automobile for different kinds of vacationers to get to know our territory,” he added.
That works with Schmidt’s view of the initiative. “We’re actually hoping to advertise a brand new type of tourism which encompasses each the cultural and the pure panorama side,” he stated.
About 30 miles south of Castagno d’Andrea, a fairy-tale fort towers over the city of Poppi and has lengthy drawn vacationers to this a part of Tuscany, a valley nestled within the Apennines often known as the Casentino. Begun within the thirteenth century, the fort “has all the time been a middle of energy, so it has all the time been effectively preserved,” stated Poppi’s mayor, Carlo Toni.
When Toni heard in regards to the Uffizi initiative, he wrote to Schmidt providing the fort — the place Nazi troops had hidden some works looted from the gallery throughout World Warfare II, like Botticelli’s “The Beginning of Venus” and Michelangelo’s “Doni Tondo” — as a venue.
The result’s the exhibition referred to as, “Within the Signal of Dante, the Casentino within the Divine Comedy,” which runs by Nov. 30. Six of the seven works on show — together with 4 drawings by the Sixteenth-century artist Federico Zuccari — are from the Uffizi.
“The fort attracts guests by itself,” stated Toni, “but when there’s worth added, extra individuals will come.”
The Uffizi’s curators and scholarly employees work with native curators to assist choose the works on mortgage. “It’s worthwhile to current a traditionally fascinating and proper narrative,” Schmidt stated. “We don’t simply put the title of the city into the database and say the portray was there, so let’s deliver it there.”
This yr, different loans got to an exhibition in Portoferraio, on the island of Elba, commemorating 200 years because the demise of Napoleon, and to the cities of Prato, Pescia, Montespertoli and Anghiari.
When Schmidt introduced the challenge final yr, he had “tons of letters and cellphone calls” from native officers and the administrators of smaller museums, he stated. A working group from the Uffizi started touring the cities “to have a look at what we are able to do, and whether or not the places could be applicable.”
Up to now, about 60 cities have requested to take part, and about two dozen initiatives are within the pipeline for 2022 and 2023. “Yearly,” Schmidt stated, “the concept is to develop it a bit of extra.”
Loans will take completely different types: Some will likely be as a part of momentary exhibitions, others for longer intervals of time. Longer preparations could be favored “when artworks can really return to their authentic location,” Schmidt stated.
The Tuscany regional authorities is engaged on a legislation to assist finance main initiatives below the Uffizi Diffusi umbrella, just like the restoration of the Villa Ambrogiana in Montelupo Fiorentino, close to Florence. As a part of that initiative, a few of the a whole bunch of work from the villa that the Uffizi has in storage are set to return there.
“This yr, as a result of it was very, crucial to me to start out instantly, we used essentially the most examined and conventional means,” Schmidt stated.
However now, the sky’s the restrict. This month, Schmidt gave Elon Musk and his household a non-public tour of the Uffizi and advised Musk, the SpaceX founder, that he would fortunately take into account an Uffizi Diffusi challenge, ought to an area station ever open up on Mars.
“If we glance long run, I believe artworks will likely be touring to different planets,” Schmidt stated. “I believe that if human sort will likely be deciding on one other planet, I believe that artwork will likely be a really important a part of it, and that artworks will should be there.”
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