It’s been a while that I don’t write here, despite being at home several months, like all of us!
During the months of lockdown, however, I caught up with several commitments that I had neglected. In fact, I managed to finish all the exams of the first year of the Specialization School and finally I have done a documentation that I have been carrying around like a ballast for a long time.
Currently I am much freer and sometimes I get bored, also because I don’t know what to do!
I started working again, but I also manage to get some free time and I finally started going out again on weekends!
After all we’ve been through I only have the desire to travel and visit our Italian cities to help, albeit in my small way, the tourism of our nation.
Over the past weekends I managed to see two of my dearest friends and together we took the opportunity to tour not only the cities chosen for our meetings, but also some museums.
The first Saturday that I allowed myself an out-of-town trip, the destination was Florence.
Every time I went to Florence, I have always focused on the most known points of interest in the city, therefore the Uffizi, the Palazzo della Signoria, the Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore, the Basilica di Santa Maria Novella, and so on … Despite my penchant for archeology even outside of my working life, I had never chosen the National Archaeological Museum of Florence as a stop on my tours, and instead visiting it was a very pleasant surprise.
The National Archaeological Museum of Florence is located in Palazzo della Crocetta, moved here in 1880, which was restored in 1619-20 by Giulio Parigi as the residence of Maria Maddalena, sister of the Grand Duke Cosimo II de’ Medici.
The museum preserves finds from excavations in Toscana, but also from Lazio and Umbria, and collects Etruscan and Roman objects. It also has an important Egyptian collection as well as a Greek section containing Greek vases found in Etruscan tombs, which testify to the numerous trade exchanges in the Mediterranean Sea.
The Etruscan section is located on the first floor and preserves the strong piece of the collection, that is, the Chimera d’Arezzo.
One of the most famous works of the Etruscan civilization dated to the 4th century BC, a bronze statue depicting the mythical Leonine fair, which was restored by Francesco Carradori in 1785, who rebuilt the serpentine tail that bit the goat’s head on the back. This work was found in a field near Arezzo in 1553 and was presented to Cosimo I by Vasari.
The chimera is now exhibited in a room, next to other famous bronzes, such as the statue of the Arringatore, dated to the first century BC. It portrays an Etruscan noble Aule Meteli with the Roman toga, while raising his arm towards the observer and the hypothetical crowd. It came to light in 1566 in Pila, near the Trasimeno lake.
Most of the other finds concern funerary sculpture, in particular the urns and sarcophagi, including the sarcophagus of the obese dated to the 2nd century BC.
The Museum boasts a numismatic section, which collects one of the most important and ancient numismatic collections in Italy.
The first nucleus of the numismatic collection was already present in the collection of antiquities begun by Lorenzo il Magnifico and enriched by various family members. Then it was donated by the last descendant to the Granducato di Toscana.
Starting in 1874, with Luigi Adriano Milani as director of the museum, the coin cabinet was further enriched thanks to the purchase of important collections and treasures.
Subsequently, the numismatic collection was expanded thanks to excavations in various localities of the territory under the jurisdiction of the Superintendence for Archaeological Heritage of Toscana.
The collection of the coin boasts about 80.000 pieces and in particular preserves the most populous collection of Etruscan coins in the world equal to 1.173 pieces.
The section called “Egyptian Museum” is extraordinary. It is the second in Italy only to the Egyptian Museum of Turin. This collection is always on the first floor and comes from the Nizzoli and Schiaparelli collections and from the excavation campaign of Ippolito Rosellini and François Champollion.
The prehistoric era of the Old and Middle Kingdom is documented by flints, vases and steles. Among the most interesting finds are the grain grinder and the woman who makes beer dating back to the ancient kingdom. Subsequently, a famous relief with scribes from the tomb of Pharaoh Haremhab in Saqqara is exhibited, and the extraordinary war or hunting chariot. It was almost intact, made in bone and wood, dating back to the 15th century BC. It was found near Thebes together with fabrics, ropes, furniture, hats, bags and baskets.
Lastly, there is a room dedicated to Coptic art, thanks to the excavations of the Florentine Papyrological Institute in Antinoe. Among the finds there is a rich collection of restored fabrics. There are tunics, caps, socks, fragments of decoration and a silk cloak, as well as numerous objects related to daily life or funeral customs, such as one of the portraits from Al Fayum.
After spending the whole morning around the museum, my friend Rebecca and I, who lives in Florence, went to lunch at the Osteria del Nacchero, chosen by my personal guide.
The place is slightly away from the heart of Florence, but Rebecca chose it specifically to let me taste a more traditional Tuscan cuisine, far from the tourist places that usually characterize the city center.
The restaurant refers to the old taverns of the past and the proposal concerns typical Florentine and Tuscan dishes, such as lampredotto or tripe.
We started with an appetizer of liver croutons, tomatoes croutons and fried polenta with mushrooms, and then continued with two first courses, paccheri with white ragù and fresh tomato soup, all accompanied by a good red wine.
Once we finished our lunch we went back to the city center and wandered aimlessly, walking through the streets of the city and taking the classic photo with the Ponte Vecchio behind.
In the late afternoon we slowly headed towards the station where I had to say goodbye to my dear friend Rebecca, who accompanied me through the cultural and culinary beauties of this beautiful city.