The first large-scale maps of Tuscany are back on display in the Uffizi Gallery in Florence. They have been out of the public gaze for over 20 years.
Maps depicting Renaissance Tuscany are back on display at the Uffizi Gallery in Florence. They have been hidden from public view for more than 20 years.
Commissioned in the late 1500s by Ferdinando I de’ Medici, they depict the newly created Grand Duchy of Tuscany. Florence had recently conquered Siena and the new unified territory is represented.
More than 1,200 cities and towns, whose names are written in gold, are featured in the three maps designed by the cartographer Stefano Bonsignori and painted by Ludovico Buti.
Hall of Maps
The maps were the first large-scale representation of Tuscany and are displayed in the museum’s “hall of the geographical maps”. Their restoration cost €700,000.
On one wall is the map of the Florence territory. Another depicts Siena. A third wall features a map of Elba Island off the Tuscan coast.
A huge window offers a bird’s eye view over present-day Florence, showing Palazzo Vecchio and the basilicas of Santa Croce and San Miniato al Monte.
“Even the smallest and most remote towns are elegantly written in gold and are often accompanied by the first known pictorial representation of the various locations,” said Eike Schmidt, the director of the Uffizi Galleries. “The inhabitants of the [Tuscan] region will be able to recognise places they love in these large maps.”
The room had been closed since the late 1990s. It now has seats so visitors can take time to admire the maps.
“It was a very old-fashioned, stuffy room that was clearly in need of restoration, although the official reason for keeping it closed was always lack of staff,” said Schmidt. “The wall paintings were darkened and you were really able to notice the dust. We’ve been able to restore them, clean them and install technology that automatically counts the number of people inside the room at one time.”
The maps will be on show to the public from Tuesday to a maximum of 20 visitors at a time.