Gotica Toscana npa and the Monuments Men

by Ugo Coppoli

Sometimes incredible things happen that you never expected, or rather, that you didn’t expect at all.
When we came up with the idea of creating a historical re-enactment group on the ‘Monuments Men’, we obviously had to document ourselves because we were starting almost from scratch. And one of our sources of inspiration and documentation were the books of the world-famous American writer Robert M. Edsel.
Robert Edsel in fact dedicated a large part of his life to reconstructing the exploits and missions that the Monuments Men had carried out throughout Europe during the Second World War to the point of becoming the founder of the US-based “Monuments Men Foundation”, which collects all the documentation, testimonies, photographs and publications concerning precisely the history of the men and women of the “Monuments”.
I made this clarification because when we started to make the first attempt at representation at the Giogo Pass in September 2017 on the occasion of “Un Tuffo nella Storia” organised by Gotica Toscana aps, we took some photos in uniform with the few items we had, namely 2 or 3 packed paintings and a few used books.

But they liked the idea and so we decided to present ourselves as the “Monuments” group at the edition 2018 of the La Colonna della Libertà and, beyond our expectations, it was a success in terms of visibility and public. In the meantime, we had got in touch with the Casa Siviero Museum in Florence, whose managers, enthusiastic about our performances, invited us, through the Region of Tuscany, to appear in historical uniforms at themed evenings held at this historic museum.

During some of these ‘events’, we also had the good fortune to meet the girls of the Antigonart Cultural Association, who are passionate about art history and very good actresses, telling the lives of some of the women who collaborated with the ‘Monuments’ during that historical period. The understanding with them was immediate, to the point that we decided to develop a project in order to present some events together on the subject, a project that we are currently developing.

A gradual but continuous growth, which enriched us not only from the point of view of historical notions, but also and above all from the personal and human side.
Well, after all this, we never expected yesterday that we would even come into contact with our inspirational ‘myth’, namely Robert M. Edsel!

So it was almost by chance (or maybe not) that we got in touch with him on Instagram, and after a brief description of what we do and represent, to our great surprise (“Are we sure? Is it really him?”), not only did Edsel like us, but he also invited us to send our photos and news about our future events to the official email address of the Monuments Men Foundation, managed by Anna Bottinelli, his wife, a true Florentine and current president of the Foundation!
It took us a while to realise that yesterday we were exchanging messages on Instagram with this world-famous writer, our ‘mentor’ and inspirer, and yet there he was before our eyes, we were talking to Robert M. Edsel, the real him.
Well may I say, that’s satisfying.
Sometimes it’s good to feel proud of what you do.