August 4: Free Museums & WWII Tribute
All the museums in the Pitti Palace, along with the Boboli Gardens, will be accessible at no cost on Sunday, August 4 to commemorate the date in 1944 when the Germans retreated from Florence. To slow an Allied pursuit, they mined all the bridges except Ponte Vecchio and several medieval streets, such as Por Santa Maria and via de’ Bardi, leaving destruction and chaos behind them. Florentines who lost their homes or simply feared for their lives fled to the courtyard of the Pitti Palace and the Boboli Gardens, and the iconic locations had makeshift beds and meals ready to host them. Uffizi director Eike Schmidt decided on the date as a “tribute to an important moment in history.”
From 8:15 am to 7:30 pm, guests can tour, for free: The Palatine Gallery; the Fashion and Costume Gallery; the Modern Art Museum; the Porcelain Museum; the “Treasury of the Grand Dukes ” (formerly the Silver Museum); and the Boboli Gardens. Visitors can browse and appreciate Renaissance paintings, antique sculptures, sumptuous period fashion and jewelry, artworks from the late 19th and early 20th centuries, and the formal Italian garden complete with statues and fountains, all symbols of Italy’s cultural resilience in the face of threats like “The Night of the Bridges.”
In the evening, at 9 pm, the Uffizi will host a special event in the Pitti Palace to commemorate the loss of structural heritage, including the Michelangelo-designed Santa Trinita Bridge. La Compagnia delle Seggiole, a local theater company, will perform a dramatic reading of eyewitness accounts and extracts from Benjamin Britten’s War Requiem, accompanied by audiovisuals designed to recreate the atmosphere of the Palace-turned-shelter that night. The free event will take place in the Treasury of the Grand Dukes, and requires no reservation to attend.
Also on August 4, Florence residents with a valid I.D. card can visit the following city-run museums for free: Palazzo Vecchio (9 am – 11 pm); Santa Maria Novella (12 noon – 6:30 pm); the Stefano Bardini museum (11 am – 5 pm); the Salvatore Romano Foundation of Ancient and Medieval Sculpture (1 – 5 pm); the Brancacci Chapel in piazza del Carmine (1 – 5 pm); Palazzo Medici Riccardi (9 am – 7 pm); and the San Niccolò tower (5 – 8 pm). (rosanna cirigliano & alex harrison)