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The director of Florence’s Uffizi Galleries called Wednesday for stiff penalties against vandals who spray-painted graffiti on exterior columns of the Varsari Corridor connecting the famed museum to the Boboli Gardens.
Political and cultural leaders condemned the graffiti, the latest in a summer of high-profile acts of vandalism targeting Italian monuments, including the Colosseum in Rome and Milan’s landmark Vittorio Emmanuele II Galleria.
Italian police were examining video to identify those responsible for the Vasari Corridor graffiti, which appeared overnight on the Arno River-facing side of the nearly half-mile-long corridor.
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“Clearly this is not a drunken whim, but a premeditated act,’’ Uffizi director Eike Schmidt said in a statement. He called for harsh sanctions against those responsible, saying that in the United States such cases could bring a prison term of five years.
The Uffizi Galleries is shown on Aug. 23, 2023, with spraypainted graffiti marking seven pilasters of the Corridoio Vasariano in Florence, Italy. (Gallerie degli Uffizi via AP)
“Enough with symbolic punishments and imaginative extenuating circumstances. We need the hard fist of the law,’’ Schmidt said.
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Earlier this summer, a video of a tourist carving his and his girlfriend’s initials into the Colosseum outraged Italians, and vandals earlier this month climbed atop the Vittorio Emmanuele II Gallery in Milan and spraypainted an arch facing the Duomo cathedral.
Florence Mayor Dario Nardella promised a full investigation to identify those responsible for the “shameful act of vandalism” at the Varsari Corridor.
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Italy’s culture minister, Gennaro Sangiuliano, said that vandals “need to understand that even a small scratch will be prosecuted from now on.”
The aerial walkway designed by Giorgio Vasari was commissioned by Duke Cosimo de Medici in 1565 to allow grand dukes to move safely from Pitti Palace to the seat of government in Palazzo Vecchio.