The Italian Almanac

Perseus by Cellini

Italian Art - August 10

A leading art historian has called for a 16th-century masterpiece to be locked up safely after another renowned Florentine sculpture was damaged by vandals last week. Speaking in a press interview following damage to a statue of Nepture, Mina Gregori said a bronze sculpture of the Greek hero Perseus holding aloft the Gorgon Medusa's head should be immediately removed from its public location.

City authorities intended to shift the figure to a museum - like Michelangelo's famous David - at the end of a costly four-year restoration job. However, the repairs, which concluded in 2000, were so successful that they decided to return it to its original public plinth. Florence's art heritage chief Antonio Paolucci on Tuesday stressed that nothing had changed since then, describing Gregori's warning as "foolishness".

"The Perseus is guarded 24 hours a day by paid personnel, financed by a Florentine bank, and is just fine," said Paolucci, a former culture minister. "I see absolutely no reason to replace it with a copy." With the exception of the restoration, the sculpture has stood in the same location since April 27 1554.