A journey dedicated to art and culture, from ancient times to the eve of 1861, through the pre-unification "cultural capitals"

On the one hundred and fiftieth anniversary of the Unification of Italy (1861 - 2011) Florence, the second capital (1865 - 1870) of the New Kingdom host in Palazzo Pitti, which was once the  residence of King Victor Emmanuel II, the exhibition entitled “La Bella Italia (the beautiful Italy). Art and identity of the capital cities”, after being housed in the Palace of Venaria (Reggia di Venaria Reale) in Turin.

The exhibition in Florence offers an itinerary in which art and the past intersect, disclosing past memories and showing a series of points of contact between different regions even before achieving the unification of Italy. Over 350 works of art give the visitor the opportunity to capture similarities between territories and countries in the process of uniting.

Before 1861, every Italian city had its own self-representation and identity that held together historical and cultural elements, displayed in this exhibition, dedicated to Italy and to the identity of its first capitals before the Unification. This is a special exhibition, celebrating the union of the Italian territory and its historical, cultural and artistic greatness. Among the capitals, symbol of this journey through Italy before the unification, are Turin, Florence, Rome, Milan, Venice, Genoa, Bologna, Naples and Palermo. Works of art, documents and objects illustrate each city.

The exhibition shows what was the cultural identity of the capitals of Italy in the year 1861; how the citizens of Milan, Naples or Florence saw themselves, and how they were represented by artists though the centuries. The exhibition aims to reveal the immense cultural, artistic and literary heritage that each capital city has given to Italy and the Italian people.

Annibale Carracci (Bologna 1560 - Roma 1609), Venere, satiro e putti, XVI secolo (1587  ca.-1588 ca.), olio su tela. Firenze, Galleria degli UffiziGiovanni Antonio Canal detto Canaletto (Venezia 1697 - 1768), Veduta di  Palazzo Ducale a Venezia, ante 1755, olio su tela. Firenze, Galleria degli Uffizi, DepositiGiovanni Signorini (Firenze 1810 - 1862), Carnevale di Firenze a Santa Croce,  olio su tela. Firenze, Gallerie degli Uffizi, Galleria d’Arte ModernaAntonio Cioci (Firenze 1722 - 1792), Palio dei Cocchi nell’antica Piazza di  Santa Maria Novella, XVIII secolo (1790), olio su tela. Firenze, Gallerie degli  Uffizi, Galleria d’Arte ModernaGiuseppe Maria Terreni (Livorno 1739 - 1811), Festa alle cascine  dell’Isola in onore di Ferdinando III, XVIII secolo (1791), tempera su  carta. Firenze, Gallerie degli Uffizi, Galleria d’Arte ModernaSandro Botticelli (Firenze ...? - 1510), Pallade e il Centauro, XV secolo (1482 ca.).  Firenze, Galleria degli UffiziSandro Botticelli (Firenze ...? - 1510), La Calunnia, sec. XV secolo  (1496 ca.-1497 ca.), tempera su tavola. Firenze, Galleria degli UffiziJustus Suttermans (Anversa, Belgio 1597 - Firenze 1681), Ritratto di Galileo Galilei, 1636, olio  su tela. Firenze, Galleria degli Uffizi


La Bella Italia

Art and identity of the capital cities

The Treasury of the Grand Dukes (Silver Museum), Palatine Gallery, Gallery of Modern Art, Museum of Costume and Fashion, Pitti Palace, Florence

11 October 2011 – 12 February 2012

Exhibition curated by Antonio Paolucci with Cristina Acidini and Maria Sframeli

Exhibition catalogue published by Silvana Editoriale (available only in Italian)

Ministero per i Beni e le Attività Culturali con la Direzione Regionale per i Beni Culturali e Paesaggistici della Toscana, la Soprintendenza Speciale per i Beni Artistici e Storici ed Etnoantropologici e per il Polo Museale Fiorentino con i musei di Palazzo Pitti, Firenze Musei e l’Ente Cassa di Risparmio di Firenze