Exhibition to celebrate 40 years of hunting down and recovering Italy’s art treasures
Italy has a plethora of law enforcement agencies. In fact, there are eight separate ones: Arma dei Carabinieri (military police), Polizia di Stato (state police), Guardia di Finanza (financial and customs police), Polizia Provinciale (provincial police), Polizia Municipale (municipal police), Corpo Forestale dello Stato (forestry police), Guardia Costeria (coast guard police) and Polizia Penitenziaria (prison police). Reputedly Italy’s most elite law enforcement body, the Carabinieri are the police force that Italians most respect and closely relate to. Within this corps of military police, there are several specialist units that operationally report to other Ministries and not directly to the Ministry of Defence. One of these units, the Comando Carabinieri Patrimonio Culturale (Cultural Heritage Squad) is dedicated to preventing and solving crimes related to items of artistic, historical and archaeological interest and reports to the Ministry of Cultural Heritage.
To celebrate the 40th anniversary of the institution of the Squad, three interesting exhibitions in Naples, Rome and Florence have been put together under the combined name of L’Arma per l’Arte (The Corps for Art). The Naples exhibition called Archeologia che ritorna (Archaeology That Returns) was held at the Palazzo Reale from 8 May until 30 September 2009 and concentrated on the important work done by the Squad in combating trafficking in archaeological finds. Instead the Rome exhibition which began on 10 September 2009 and will end on 30 January 2010 is being held at the National Museum of Castel Sant’Angelo. There, the exhibition, Antologia di meraviglie (Anthology of Marvels), shows a series of recuperated archaeological finds and historic art works.
The third exhibition, Aspetti del sacro ritrovati (Aspects of Recovered Sacred Art), will be of interest to anyone who will be coming to Florence between 21 November 2009 and 6 April 2010. It will be housed at the beautiful Sala Bianca of the Palatine Gallery in the Pitti Palace. As its name suggests, it will focus on paintings, sculptures, illuminated books, jewels, church furniture and furnishings that have a religious as well as artistic value. Just one of the many pieces that will be on show is a precious XII century reliquary cross stolen from the Museum of Saint Clement’s Cathedral in Velletri, near Rome in 1983. Having found its way to London, it then turned up again in Italy and was finally recovered by the art squad’s 007s in Rimini.
Before visiting the exhibition in Florence, why not read or reread one or all of Magdalen Nabb’s mysteries that are set in the city. Her detective, Marshal Guarnaccia, is a carabinieri.