Art: Florentine Tempest

The huge bell atop Florence's Palazzo Vecchio pealed tumultuously one night last week, sending cheering Florentines into the streets to celebrate a victory over Roman bureaucracy and a triumph for local art and tourism. The Italian government, which had assembled 33 Italian masterpieces* for a good-will tour of Washington's National Gallery and Manhattan's Metropolitan Museum, had bowed to the storm of protest from Italians who wanted their treasures kept right at home, suspended plans to send the show abroad until scientific tests could be made to guarantee that no harm would come to the traveling masterpieces.

The Florentine tempest began blowing up...

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