A visit to the Archaeological Museum in Florence Posted by Serena on Nov 29, 2008 in Uncategorized
The first time my husband came to Italy I took him to Firenze (Florence) of course. I warned him before hand not to dress like a tourist (no shorts or sandals, no cameras dangling from the neck) because I intended to take him to a place that is very important to me: not the Uffizi, not Palazzo Pitti, but the Museo Archeologico.
I worked at the Archaeological Museum for three years as a part time cataloguer of Egyptian antiquities. Every morning during the summer I would walk from the railway station past Santa Maria Novella, Santa Maria in Fiore and the Battistero, through Piazza SS. Annunziata and enter the back door of Palazzo della Crocetta where the Museum is located. I’d then go through some of the exhibition rooms passing, along the way, the Chimera di Arezzo and greeting the bronze sculpture of the Arringatore (the Orator) before arriving at the storerooms, where boxes and boxes of Egyptian artifacts were stacked up on both sides of the corridor and just about everywhere in the office. The Museum houses the second largest collection of Egyptian antiquities in Italy, the largest being the Museo Egizio di Torino, which is itself one of the biggest in Europe.
Once at my desk, with a ruler and a caliper I’d start measuring and describing in detail all sort of objects, from vases to amulets, from ivory spoons to make-up pallets. I loved to turn these beautiful 5,000 year old zoomorphic pallets over and over in my hands, to feel the smooth texture of the grayish-green polished schist stone.
There were some memorable moments in my job, like the time I couldn’t resist trying on a 3,000 year old faience ring that got stuck on my finger! After a few moments of panic I managed to get it off without breaking it. Another ‘interesting’ moment came when I had to catalogue a mummified human left foot! I can still visualize the nail of its big toe sticking out from the linen bandages. I must admit that this time I tried to handle it as little as possible and I wore a pair of disposable gloves.
A visit to the Museo Archeologico is well worth while even if you don’t have the opportunity to rummage through the boxes in the storerooms. Aside from the Egyptian collection the Museum houses one of the biggest collection of Etruscan antiquities in Italy, amongst which are some exquisite pieces. In the Galleria dei bronzi (Bronze Gallery) are some famous monumental bronze sculptures such as the Chimera di Arezzo (5th cent.BC) and the Arringatore (3rd cent.BC).
The Museum is housed in Palazzo della Crocetta, built in the 17th century by Giulio Parigi for Maria Maddalena de’ Medici, sister of Prince Cosimo II. A corridor links the building with the nearby church of SS. Annunziata. This corridor was constructed to allow the Princess Maria Maddalena, who was physically deformed, to attend religious functions without being seen by the public.
If you happen to visit the museum on a Saturday morning and fancy a breath of fresh air there is a lovely 18th century garden designed by Francesco Romoli who was head gardener of the Giardino di Boboli at Palazzo Pitti.
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