If you love art and Florence, chances are at some point over the years you’ve made a “pilgrimage” out to Carmignano to see Pontormo’s Visitation. Most of the time you’ll be the only person there; perhaps you discreetly shared the space with someone coming to pray in the church.
Entering through the gracious portico, if the sun is shining you probably wouldn’t notice that the large complex is in a dangerously bad condition. While emergency interventions have helped to keep the church presentable, patching the roof and fixing water damage on the walls, the annexed friary, which dates back to Saint Francis’ time, has suffered a lack of maintenance over the years—now it has reached a critical point.
For one year, you won’t be able to visit this painting in its hometown in the countryside outside Prato, a major sacrifice for the Carmignanesi, who are very attached to it. But the traveling exhibition Miraculous Encounters, in Florence, New York and LA, serves to bring people’s attention to this painting’s home, which desperately needs restoration.
The complex of Santi Michele e Francesco in Carmignano is launching a crowdfunding campaign that will last one year in order to raise necessary funds to start restoration work immediately. Substantial funds have been promised by the diocese and other sources, but it will take more than 18 months to release them. In the meantime, the building is at the mercy of the weather and is deteriorating rapidly.
Consolidating the structure will not only save the medieval friary, but will be part of a project for the creation of a new Museo della Visitazione, which will guarantee security for the painting, opening hours and guest services for an optimized viewing experience once the beautiful artwork returns from its US tour.
UPDATE June 4, 2018, 6pm: At 6am in the morning of Monday June 4, a garbage truck from the company Alia crashed into the portico of the church, into one of the pilasters, taking out about a third of the facade. The culprit: a reverse gear that did not enter. The driver was not hurt. Currently evaluations are being carried out to determine if there has been structural damage to the rest of the church. The church is closed for the foreseeable future.