On May 27, 2013, Florentines looked beyond the curtain of somber remembrance and instead embraced a bright future, in the arms and innocent, joyful faces of Tuscany’s youth. Through the efforts of an Italian initiative called Girotondo per Caterina, founded by Marco Ferri, a thousand Florentine school children, teachers and citizens joined hands to encircle the Uffizi Gallery. Their outstretched arms and smiling faces weaved down winding streets and each child wore a white shirt, featuring a design drawn by a three-year-old with the words, “Florence Embraces the Uffizi,” written in blue.
The Girotondo per Caterina event commemorated the 1993 bomb attack on the Uffizi Gallery. Five people were killed, including two children. “Caterina” was the youngest at 51 days old. Three works of art were destroyed and many more were damaged, but Florence, ever resilient, would not be defeated.
Two months after the attack, in July 1993, our founding and sister organization in Italy, Amici degli Uffizi, was created to help raise funds to repair the gallery and the art housed within. Florence may have been damaged for a time, but the heart of Tuscany, one of the cultural centers of the world, refused to be stopped.
Girotonodo per Caterina not only honored those who died, but also sent an important message to the world about the resilience of the city and of Italy’s cultural heritage. Speaking at the event, Florentine senate president Pietro Grasso called it “a gesture of hope.”
~Submitted by Rachel Vermiglio Mason