In the night between 26 and 27 May 1993, a Fiat Fiorino van stuffed with 277 kilos of TNT exploded in via dei Georgofili, in Florence, next to the Uffizi Gallery. The massacre, carried out by the Cosa Nostra, killed 5 people (and injured 48): the spouses Fabrizio Nencioni (39 years old) e Angela River (31 years old), their daughters Nadia (9 years old) and Caterina (just 50 days old) and the student Dario Capolicchio (22 years old). The attack is part of the wake of the other massacres of 1992-1993 which caused the death of 21 people (including the judges Giovanni Falcone and Paolo Borsellino) and serious damage to the artistic heritage. In 2002 the Cassation confirmed 15 life sentences for the massacre: among those convicted Bernardo Provenzano and Matteo Messina Denaro.
On the occasion of 30 years since that terrible attackthe «Corriere» met in Florence Louis Dainelli, relative of the Nencioni family and president of the Association of the families of the victims of the via dei Georgofili massacre; the director of the Uffizi Eike Schmidt e Anna Maria Petrioli Tofanidirector of the Uffizi at the material time.
Luigi Dainelli, the uncle of little Nadia and Caterina
We meet Luigi Dainelli in La Romola, a hamlet of San Casciano val di Pesa (Florence) where the park dedicated to Nadia and Caterina Nencioni, the girls victims of the massacre together with their parents and the student Capolicchio. Fabrizio Nencioni was born in this hamlet, who then moved to Florence with his wife and family, when his wife was offered a job as custodian of the Georgofili Academy. «On May 23 they had baptized Caterina and the party was held here – Nencioni recalls – in the usual church in Florence, the following Saturday, there were her funeral: we went from great joy to immense pain». In the video, Dainelli retraces that night and then recounts: «It was understood almost immediately that it was not a question of a gas leak, there was the smell of gunpowder and the Fiorino had disintegrated, even a part of the engine across the Arno River. Then the next day they found the crater where the car bomb had been parked.’ The man then also tells us about the birth of poem “Sunset”, written by Nadia a few days before her death. And that, on 16 January, she was once again remembered by the media for thearrest of Matteo Messina Denaro, entitled “Operation Sunset”in memory of the little 9-year-old victim, on the will of the colonel Archdeacon Lucius, who led the team to “capture” the boss. Dainelli says: «You can’t see sunsets in via dei Georgofili, so when Nadia came to La Romola she was perhaps fascinated by them: so she wrote this poem. It was kept in a notebook at school and the teacher gave it back to us. Today I take it to schools to tell stories». The poem bears the date of May 24, 3 days before the attack: «The afternoon/ goes away./ The sunset is approaching,/ a wonderful moment,/ the sun is going away (to bed)/ it’s all over already ».
Eike Schmidt: «A restoration of aesthetic, but also moral value»
The director of the Uffizi Gallery welcomes us in Museum deposits where the two works of Bartolomeo Manfredi (1582-1622; his «Card Players» it was restored 25 years later the massacre) and of Gherardo delle Notti (1592-1656) which were nearly destroyed by the bombing, then recovered after a major restoration that lasted years, and which are now on permanent display to commemorate 30 years since the bombing. “Immediately after the attack, theFriends of the Uffizi Association who organized a fundraiser to be able to restore the works. At the time more than 500 works were injured by the force of the explosion – says the director -. The two restored works had black fragments that looked like ash, and which were actually burnt parts of the canvas; then a computer put them back together. These paintings have many gaps today, parts that no longer exist and have been burned forever. Little fragments remain that have been pieced together. The process of material reconstruction of what is left represents a strong sign against destruction and organized crime. This is a work not only of a historical and aesthetic nature, but also of a moral nature.
Anna Maria Petrioli Tofani, the former director who reopened the Uffizi in just 20 days
«That night I was awakened by an anguished phone call from the gallery keepers who told me that an episode had occurred whose origin was not understood». To tell the first impressions of that night is Anna Maria Petrioli Tofani, director of the Uffizi from 1987 to 2005: «I trembled at the thought of entering the museum when I realized the devastation. The greatest damage was at the height of the access to the Vasari corridor, where the paintings of the Caravaggesque current were exhibited, and where there were the three paintings that were irreparably destroyed». Despite the heavy damage, all personnel worked day and night and managed to recover in just 20 days, continues the former director, 60% of the museum: «Twenty days later the president of the Senate Giovanni Spadolini attended the opening. Then it took a couple more years to get to the total reopening », she recalls. And finally: «Why target the Uffizi? An attempt was made to create discouragement in the population, to provoke a sense of danger and impotence, which perhaps would have facilitated certain operations of a political nature. The Uffizi, then, was a name known all over the world and they have them chosen for their visibility. That attack also crossed a ditch: until then works of art were considered sacred, the testimony of a civilization, the historical and psychological evidence of a population».