As reported by Ermanno Rivetti in the Art Newspaper, a surprisingly violent hailstorm and accompanying downpour has caused an estimated €1.5m worth of damage to museums and other historic buildings in Florence. The storm, which raged over Tuscany the afternoon of Friday, September 19, pelted the city with ice and rain, causing trees to fall and electricity to be temporarily cut off to numerous citizens and businesses.
The Boboli Gardens, a favorite tourist destination attached to the Pitti Palace, sustained losses to its trees and landscaping. The palace itself, built by banker Luca Pitti and later expanded as a residence for the Medici Granddukes, was damaged on its famous rusticated facade and had several windows broken. Parts of its museum were closed during repairs.
The Uffizi was evacuated during the storm, and while refunds were offered to those who could not return to the museum, many tourists were resigned to leave Florence unable to see one of its crown jewels.
The Museo Nazionale di San Marco, housed in the former Dominican friary that was home to artists Fra Angelico and Fra Bartolommeo, as well as preacher Girolamo Savonarola, sustained leaks and damage to four paintings that have since been sent to the conservation lab.
The recently restored Palazzo Davanzati suffered water damage to the rooms containing its lace collection. Damaged pieces, including some paintings, have been sent to conservators at the Opificio delle Pietre Dure in Florence.
In addition to trees at the Boboli, the Florence Botanical Gardens sustained extensive damage of up to 80% of its trees and plants, some of which were planted during the Renaissance. Tuscany’s winemakers have estimated a loss of €20m from damage to grapes still awaiting harvest. Damage to vines and olive groves has yet to be assessed.
Museo Nazionale di San Marco, flooded and strewn with felled tree branches after hail storm of 19 September 2014. Photo credit: The Art Newspaper
San Marco after the storm. Photo credit: Lourdes Flores, Discover Tuscany blog
The cloister on a typical day in summer. Photo credit: Anne Leader.
Palazzo Pitti, Garden Facade.
Boboli Gardens downed trees. Photo credit: Lourdes Flores, Discover Tuscany blog