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Grad Gives "David" A Bath

Grad Gives "David" A BathThe founder of Friends of Florence, Tufts graduate Simonetta Brandolini d’Adda is helping to finance the restoration of some of Italy’s finest art. Florence.

Medford/Somerville, Mass. [01.05.04] What do Michelangelo and Mel Gibson have in common? Countess Simonetta Brandolini d'Adda. A real estate giant in Italy, the 1975 Tufts graduate has tapped her star-studded client lists to preserve some of Italy's most famous art. Her newest project is none other than the most famous man in Florence - Michelangelo's David.

"When Brandolini, an American who has lived in Florence with her Italian husband for 30 years, saw the need to help protect and preserve the city's staggering cultural legacy, she thought of her countrymen," reported TIME magazine. "Thus in 1998 was born Friends of Florence, fashioned after the nonprofit art and architecture preservation foundation Save Venice."

Among its top supporters are some of Brandolini's most internationally-known clients, including Bette Midler, Mel Gibson, Sting and Franco Zeffirelli.

"They are Florence's best friends," Antonio Paolucci - former Italian Culture Minister and superintendent of Florence's fine arts - told the magazine. "They have already spent more than $3 million helping us conserve the city's works of art."

The group has helped restore everything from marble statues to centuries-old paintings.

"This year, patrons were allowed to choose their favorite among 22 16th century paintings in the Accademia's Tribune (home of Michelangelo's David), and have their names appear on a plaque below the painting as a major donor for its restoration," reported Time.

The impact, says Brandolini, was eye-opening.

"There was an explosion of color because these are all Mannerist paintings," Brandolini - who studied abroad in Florence while a Tufts student - told TIME. "It was the first time that people walked in there, and they weren't looking at the David."

But that will soon change.

Brandolini's organization has raised the hundreds of thousands of dollars needed to begin restoration work on Michelangelo's David, to be completed in time for his 500th birthday in June.

The price tag was big, but that didn't stop the Tufts graduate and her fellow patrons from helping the historic project.

"The $200,000 for David was gathered literally in 24 hours," she told the magazine.

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