Imagine what it must have been like to be a golden-age millionaire traveling around Europe for months simply to buy art for your newly-built home. Well, stepping into the Bardini Museum in Oltrarno transmits a feeling of what buyers would have during a visit to an antiques showroom. The space - which was once a monastery - was purchased in 1881 and redesigned by the famed antiquarian Stefano Bardini to create a huge shop for the ultra rich.
His specialty in European antiquities and Renaissance art made his shop the place to find timeless and valuable pieces meticulously restored by his team (who even perfected restoration and conservation methods). The likes of Isabella Stewart Gardner and Jacquemart-André would explore the massive space hand-in-hand with Bardini who would cater to each client's needs. It is said that Mrs. Gardner was so inspired by the design of the showroom that she painted the walls of her Venetian Palace in Boston the same hue of blue found in Bardini's showroom. Prior to his death in 1922, Bardini arranged his showroom exactly as he wanted it to be left and was ultimately turned into a gem of a museum.
Void of hoards of tourists, the Bardini Museum gives visitors the opportunity to view art ranging from Etruscan and Roman era, all the way through the great Renaissance and Baroque masters. The space even has an impressive terracotta Madonna and Child by Donatello.
If a visit to the Uffizi Gallery sounds exhausting in the height of tourist season, then head straight to the Bardini Museum for an inspiring and peaceful space to contemplate the wonderful works of art on display.
Museo Stefano Bardini, Via dei Renai, 37. Tel. +39-055-2342427