They say people have something like 5 love languages right? Well this February Florence only needs one way to say I love you – Un Bacione a Firenze. As Meg told us a few weeks ago, one Sunday each month during 2013, Florence is opening the doors to some of its top tier treasures and not charging you a penny. So how will you feel the Florence love this Sunday, February 10th? How about with a trip to the Stefano Bardini Museum.
Who is this Italian crooner, Stefano Bardini, and why should you spend your Sunday afternoon with him? Bardini was a ringer on the art scene in Florence in the late 19th century and early 20th as a connoisseur, restorer, and collector. Bardini’s magnificent collection resides in the Palazzo Bardini in a picturesque neighborhood in the Oltrarno just begging for you to come check it out!
Distance: 1 km
Time: 9 minutes
From Palazzo Vecchio, another free site for another free weekend, exit on the south side of the Palazzo on Via della Ninna. Continue on Via dei Neri for several blocks until you reach Via dei Benci . Turn right and cross the Ponte alle Grazie. Once over the bridge, the Palazzo is an easy one block south at the corner of Via Renai. Sunday the museum will be open 11 am until 5 pm.
The Bardini Musuem will never make it on the radar of the average tourist. Their loss is your gain. The museum is a treasure chest of Classical, Medieval and Renaissance art and objects. While the true arties will be excited to stumble upon some lesser-known Donatellos, a Giambologna and the original Porcellino (I know, sorry to burst your bubble), the true spectacle lies in the stuff. The everyday stuff that people used centuries ago – cassone chests, armor, birthing trays, tapestries. Unlike your typical museum, the Bardini offers a glimpse into the lives of honest to goodness Florentines from centuries ago. Let your imagination run wild.
Not only does the palazzo house one of the most unique art collections in all of Florence, but it is also a work of art itself. Stefano Bardini refurbished the palazzo himself in the late 18th century. Notice how he artfully integrated works of art into the structure. Doors, windows, pilasters and columns from another era are so beautifully integrated into the structure that in a way, the palazzo has become a part of the collection itself.
Stefano loved his city so much that he bequeathed his collection to Florence. So this February, Florence is passing that love along to you. While the museum world is your burrito this Sunday, February 10th, we hope that you don’t overlook this truly hidden gem of Florence. My two cents, Stefano Bardini makes one great Valentine.