The Terrace of the Geographic Maps has reopened at the Uffizi after a 20-year closure, with the brief exception of an exhibition on Leonardo’s Tavola Doria in 2014.
The late 16th-century maps each occupy entire walls and show the Florence and Siena areas, while a third wall shows Elba Island and a large window provides a breath-taking view over the cityscape.
The reopening of the terrace was planned on the first day of the International Cartographic Conference (December 13-18) at the University of Florence. Designed by Giorgio Vasari, the space was constructed as an open loggia, which was later enclosed in the 1690s on Ferdinando de’ Medici’s return from Rome to become the grand duke of a unified Tuscany after Florence proved victorious over Siena. To celebrate the occasion and the magnitude of the dynasty, the cartographer Stefano Bonsignori made maps of the grand duchy, which went on to be painted by Ludovico Buti. The two large maps show the Medici family’s land holdings in a scale of 1:30.000. Ferdinando’s aim was to amaze his illustrious guests by the beauty and vastness of his domains as well as moving Jacopo Zucchi’s allegorical ceiling to this space from Rome.
“On these walls we can admire a spectacular depiction of Tuscany, where the ancient names of more than 1,200 towns and villages, even the smallest and most remote of places, are elegantly handwritten in gold and often equipped with the first known pictorial representation of the various places,” explains Eike Schmidt, director of the Uffizi Galleries.
The restoration was more than two years in the making, costing over 700,000 euro, half a million of which was donated by the Friends of the Uffizi Galleries association.