On the 70th anniversary of Liberation, the Istituto Storico Toscano della Resistenza e dell’Età contemporanea held the exhibition Firenze in guerra 1940-1944 (24 October 2014 – 6 January 2015, Palazzo Medici Riccardi). Curated by Valeria Galimi and Francesca Cavarocchi, this exhibition covers the initial years of the war that gradually transformed daily life for the Florentines up to the decisive months of the German occupation with its widespread violence, but counteracted by solidarity and resistance.

Thanks to the set devised by architects Giacomo Pirazzoli and Francesco Collotti, Florence at war… provided a space/laboratory in which it was possible to be immersed in the multifaceted dimensions of the city in wartime: documents, objects, images, voices, film footage made up a rich itinerary carefully weaving together the individual with the collective experience.

The itinerary, summarised below in its essential framework, can be divided into three scenarios:

  1. First of all, thecity in wartime (1940-1943): while thousands of citizens leave for the front (in various places), the whole population is called into mobilisation to support the war effort. Public places are adapted to different uses, in accordance with measures taken to protect monuments from air-raids or to create ‘wartime kitchen gardens’.
  2. Then it becomes a city under occupation (1943-1944): the German forces and the RSI (Italian Social Republic) try to take control of the territory, as bombarding begins and conditions become increasingly difficult for the citizens’ daily life.
  3. Solidarity and resistance give rise to the city of Liberation: Florence, home to the Tuscan Committee for national Liberation, stands out on account of its plurality and its rich network of partisans and anti-fascists who oppose the violence perpetrated by the occupiers and by the members of the RSI towards defenceless citizens, Jews, and all those absent from military service.

In the occasion of this exhibition Florence took part in MemorySharing, devised by video-makers Filippo Macelloni and Lorenzo Garzella, through the association “Acquario della Memoria” ( Memory Acquarium) . This project has collected numerous documents, photos, recollections, personal testimonies from the war years in Florence, to be shared and handed down to future generations.

Anyone wishing to contribute to this collection of material and documents can write to: isrt@istoresistenzatoscana.it