A message from Friends of Florence

Simonetta Brandolini d’Adda shares her thoughts

Editorial Staff
May 7, 2020 - 10:05

As Italy embarks on a phased reopening, The Florentine’s editor-in-chief Helen Farrell kindly invited me, as president of the Friends of Florence foundation, to contribute an article regarding upcoming projects we are undertaking as safety measures permit.



Since its establishment in 1998, Friends of Florence has been a primary source providing funding to the famed Florentine restoration laboratories and professionals. They work with tremendous passion and skill—using leading-edge analytic tools along with brushes and solvents—to preserve and safeguard our singular cultural heritage to be publicly accessible now and for generations to come.

Art has a wonderful capacity for fostering empathy, bridging divides and uplifting spirits.


As they have been for centuries, these treasures are among our touchstones for recovery, making their preservation perpetually essential. Art provides endless opportunities for personal reflection and community renewal. Art also has a wonderful capacity for fostering empathy, bridging divides and uplifting spirits. During difficult times, we appreciate its powers even more.


To celebrate our past and look to the future, these current projects are emblematic of our work to which we will soon return.




San Miniato al Monte, Chapel of the Crucifix, by Michelozzo (photo by Antonio Quattrone)




The Basilica of San Miniato al Monte, a Romanesque masterwork, celebrated its millennial anniversary in 2018 with the restoration of its Chapel of the Crucifix funded by the foundation. Designed by Michelozzo and completed in 1448, the exquisite chapel features Carrara marble ciborium with inlay and gilding, an altar, paintings by Agnolo Gaddi, and a vault with glazed terracotta panels by Luca della Robbia.


In fall 2019, we began work on another San Miniato highlight: the Chapel of the Cardinal of Portugal. Like the Chapel of the Crucifix, it is a stunning combination of art and architecture including sculpture, paintings, friezes, and the Cardinal’s elaborate tomb and marble throne denoting his royal lineage.


The Sala d’Ospizio in the Museum of San Marco, once a room where pilgrims and the impoverished were received, is home to several sublime panel paintings by the Renaissance master Fra Angelico. Originally the site of a Dominican convent consecrated in 1443, the museum building is an architectural tour de force. Friends of Florence is supporting the restoration of one of the great altarpieces and the complete refurbishment of the room itself. 




Church of St. Andrea Pistoia: Pulpit by Giovanni Pisano (Photo by Niccolò Begliomini)




The intricate pulpit created by Giovanni Pisano in the Church of Sant’Andrea in Pistoia, completed in 1301, is a masterpiece that inspired Donatello and Michelangelo who were instrumental agents of the Renaissance. Since early 2019, Friends of Florence has been supporting research and intensive analysis of the structure. The conservation process will resume to complete this important project—an exceptional display of sculpture and architectural design.


We also look forward to continuing the restoration of Michelangelo Buonarroti’s Pietà in the Museo dell’Opera del Duomo that began in November 2019. Commissioned by the Opera di Santa Maria del Fiore, a key aspect of this special project is that museum visitors are able to see restorers at work thanks to a specially designed “open” work site.


During this unprecedented moment, we want to express our profound gratitude to our fellow citizens—especially those on the front lines combatting Covid-19 and its impact—for their courage, forbearance and heroic efforts benefiting the nation and the world. We are humbled by your grace. Thank you.



About Friends of Florence

Friends of Florence is a U.S. 501(c)(3) non-profit organization supported by individuals from around the world who are dedicated to preserving and enhancing the cultural and historical integrity of the arts in the city and surrounding area of Florence, Italy. For more about the foundation’s activities, see www.friendsofflorence.org.

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