Friday 25 April 2014

Rescuing Italy's Art Treasures

"[It was] a large and important undertaking in terms of giving pleasure to a people that have suffered and in establishing happy relations between these people and and their present military governors."
 (Captain Deane Keller, Monuments Man)

The Helen-of-Troy like horse made its way through the streets of Florence escorted by military vehicles.  The townspeople, umbrellas perched over their heads as the rain pummelled them, cheered as they watched the giant statue make its way back to its rightful place.  "Cosimo tornato!" yelled one carriage operator.  The Equestrian statue of Cosimo, which had sat in the Piazza della Signoria since 1598, was removed and stored for safekeeping in the 1940's.  After V-E Day, it was dusted off and returned, along with its rider in a separate transport, to the piazza.  After being ruled by a Fascist dictator for two decades, and then occupied by the Germans, the Italians were relieved to see their art treasure returned in one piece.  It went a long way to lifting their spirits after a vicious war on which, at different times, they sat on both sides of the fence, the Axis and the Allies.  Viva Italia!

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