About 6 months ago I wrote a post which lists many of the museums and galleries in Firenze. I divided it into two parts, those I had visited and those I still have to see. My plan was to just strike through the plan-to-see places and add them to the bin-there, done-that list as I visited. The current spell of wet weather has been ideal for spending time indoors and I have managed three strike-throughs so far. My original idea was not to comment any further above maintaining the list, however, in the words of Robbie Burns “the best laid plans of mice and men often go awry“.
It was the turn of the Museo Archiologico today, just a brief walk down via dei Servi from il Duomo to the Piazza SS Annunzia. Lets’s face it though. Everything is just a brief walk from anywhere else in Firenze which is one of the reasons it is such an easy place to visit. 8 euros gets you into a collection which was quite a surprise for me.
I have visited the archeological museum up the hill in Fiesole and expected that this would be just a larger version of the story of the development of the local area from Etruscan time through Romans with maybe a little medieval for good measure, though you just need to stand and look around you in the town centre to see the latter. Just walking through the bookshop into the first gallery put that mistake to rest well and truely.
This gallery has a very extensive collection of artefacts from Pre Columbian Central and South America. The collection covers vast areas of the continent and periods. For the most part, they are beautifully preserved and complete. The pottery has either been expertly restored to wholeness or was collected undamaged. Many of them have extraordinary painted decoration in bright, fresh colours as though they had been crafted in the last few years instead of many hundreds of years ago.
The next section of the museum has the artefacts that I more expected to see at this museum. This collection covers the work of excavations of a number of tombs in Italy. Of course, the labelling is all in Italian and would have taken me hours to translate and I wanted to cover as much ground as I could today so I just skimmed the opening sentences. It did take me about half of my visit to realise that a.C. in Italian means Before Christ. Sometimes I can be so slow on the uptake when this is something I should have realised myself from the style of the art.
The biggest surprise was what I found in the third section of the museum. I suspect that this is what was listed separately in the Florentine article used as reference for my previous post as the Egyptian Museum and it is extraordinary. I have seen historical documentaries about Giovanni Battista Belzoni who was, among a variety of interesting occupations, an antiquarian who was responsible for some amazing finds in Egypt. There is a perfectly preserved chariot on display (pictured here) which was one of his finds.
For anyone planning a visit to Firenze, don’t just settle for art and architecture. There are many more sides to this wonderful place. It is easy to respond to my family’s puzzlement as to why I keep coming here instead of going elsewhere. There is more to absorb here than could be done in a person’s lifetime and I only get 4 weeks a year.