The Discovery Of A Well In The Tower Of The Pulci In Florence.

The Discovery Of A Well In The Tower Of The Pulci In Florence.



It is​ in​ this​ horse-shoe shaped palace, whose two wings stretch from Palazzo Vecchio to​ the Arno, that actually creates the square itself; the porticoes on​ the western side open off into Via Lambertesca, a​ narrow street that leads right into the heart of​ the oldest part of​ the city, the mediaeval area that Vasari partly demolished to​ make room for​ his new creation.

It was here that the mafia car-bomb exploded on​ the night of​ May 27th 1993, on​ the corner between Via Lambertesca and​ Via dei Georgofili, killing five people and​ causing damage to​ the artistic heritage of​ Florence. The explosion​ seriously damaged the upper rooms of​ the Uffizi and​ disembowelled the ancient house and​ tower of​ the Pulci family beneath it, from 1932 the seat of​ the historic Academy of​ the Georgofili, specialized in​ agricultural studies and​ the conservation​ of​ the territory since 1753.

The tremendous sight is​ still a​ vivid memory for​ all the rescuers who first arrived on​ the scene after the explosion: this​ time the small palace of​ the Georgofili, which had survived so many wars and​ floods, seemed really to​ have suffered its death blow. One half of​ its facade (200 square metres) had been completely destroyed, shattered in​ the explosion, a​ huge pit, about ten metres deep, had opened up in​ the interior, while the whole of​ the south wall, which faced onto the Courtyard of​ the Caldaie, was in​ danger of​ collapsing, because it​ had been shifted 10 centimetres by the impact. The attic-flat that had been created at​ the top of​ the tower in​ the early 20th century had crashed to​ the ground, covering the bodies of​ the four people who lived in​ it​ with rubble: the caretaker of​ the Academy, her husband​ and​ their two little daughters, one aged nine and​ the other only two months. The fifth victim was a​ student who lived in​ the house opposite, which was also directly hit by the explosion.

Florence has always replied to​ barbaric acts such as​ this​ by immediately getting on​ with mending her wounds and​ rebuilding everything that has been damaged "as it​ was and​ where it​ was". Once the huge patrimony of​ books belonging to​ the Academy (50.000 volumes plus 4.000 essays from the archives of​ the Georgofili) had been carried away to​ safety and​ all the rubble removed, the walls that were still standing were reinforced and​ the ones that had been destroyed were reconstructed. Traditional techniques were combined with advanced technological solutions: the roof​ and​ bent tiles were made by hand, the corbels and​ capitals carved by Florentine craftsmen but use was also made of​ mortar injections, chains, steel plates and​ bolts. Great care was taken during restoration​ to​ keep to​ certain​ basic rules which were to​ ensure that the newly reconstructed areas of​ the building could in​ some way be recognized from the original. Therefore a​ zig-zagging fracture line divides the floor of​ the huge Assembly Hall on​ the first floor, to​ delimit the area that fell to​ the ground, and​ another line on​ the facade, a​ vertical one this​ time, divides the ancient decorated walls from the new.

Two large canvases by the painter Bartolomeo Bimbi were unfortunately irreparably damaged and​ could be replaced. this​ catastrophe, however, led to​ some unexpected and​ extraordinary results, like the discovery of​ seven small rooms, which were once part of​ the State Archives, later walled up and​ forgotten and​ now available for​ the use of​ Academy of​ the Georgofili once more. Above all it​ revealed the existence of​ a​ well and​ staircase system that leads up from the cellars to​ the upper floors and​ which probably is​ the last trace of​ the house that the Florentine land​ register of​ 1427 noted as​ being the property of​ Jacopo di Francesco de' Pulci and​ father of​ Luigi, a​ friend of​ Lorenzo Il Magnifico and​ author of​ the poem "Morgante". The house and​ tower still bear the name of​ the Pulci family even today, in​ spite of​ the fact that the building appears to​ have passed to​ the Gherardini family after 1433.
The well and​ the staircase that winds around it​ and​ reaches the top floor of​ the Uffizi Gallery are now free of​ the walls and​ plaster that once hid them; the grey stone archivolt and​ steps have been restored in​ order to​ form a​ single and​ harmonious unit with the various rooms of​ the Academy.

Apart from being an​ unexpected reward for​ all those who worked on​ restoring the building, this​ discovery is​ yet another demonstration​ of​ Giorgio Vasari's skill in​ construction, as​ he managed to​ incorporate the ancient tower of​ the Pulci family into the revolutionary architecture of​ the Uffizi without destroying it.
in​ fact the original project included plans to​ expropriate and​ demolish at​ least 43 houses and​ towers in​ order to​ build the new palace of​ the "Uffici" or​ offices, but Cosimo de' Medici decided that this​ would be far too expensive in​ the long run and​ therefore the most of​ the buildings were spared though they were eventually incorporated into the new construction. The Tower of​ the Pulci and​ the results of​ this​ extraordinary restoration​ work can be visited daily during the hours in​ which the Academy of​ the Georgofili is​ open to​ the public and​ that is​ from Mondays to​ Fridays, from 3.00pm to​ 6.30pm.




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