SkyscraperCity banner

1 - 20 of 216 Posts

·
Feel the pungency!
Joined
·
27,519 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
During my two week stay in Italy in January 2016, as I was based in the region of Emilia-Romagna, it was expected that I wouldn’t leave before paying a visit to one of the world’s greatest cities of art and architecture, Florence, which was located not far away, and I set off for this exciting journey on the second weekend. The weather in Bologna where I changed trains was wonderfully sunny and not too cold, which made me hope for the same or even better conditions in Florence. After all the two cities are only half an hour apart by high-speed train. But when the train exited the interminable tunnel under the Apennines, I found myself surrounded by grayness, with a depressingly overcast sky. Moreover, when I got down at Santa Maria Novella station (the city’s railway terminus), it seemed to me like it was quite colder than in Emilia-Romagna, although I expected the contrary as the city should normally be sheltered by the Apennines from the northern winds that sweep through the neighboring region. But anyway, I was in Florence and that was what I could get for weather (at least it was not raining, and I was hoping it wouldn’t start later!), so I exited the station to start my exploration.

As I did in my thread about Ravenna, I present first of all a summary of the lengthy and turbulent history of Florence until the mid 19th century, focusing on the role played in it by the powerful political dynasty of the Medici (who sponsored Renaissance art and architecture, and were responsible for a large proportion of the Florentine art created during their period of rule) and by the Church (for which most of the artistic treasures were commissioned), so you can get appreciate the various monuments and buildings in their historical context.
 

·
Feel the pungency!
Joined
·
27,519 Posts
Discussion Starter #2
Origins and late Antiquity:

Florence was founded by the Romans around 59 BC as Florentia (“Flowering City”). The preaching of the Gospel already began to spread among the rural population in the outskirts of the city during the reign of the Emperor Hadrian (117-138 AD), a period of great commercial and agricultural prosperity. The new religion came from Rome, brought by a colony of merchant converts of Syrian origin who settled in Oltrarno, the area south of the river Arno, outside the walls. An important year in the history of the Christian conversion of Florence was 313 AD, the year of Constantine's Edict legalizing the worship of Christ throughout the Empire, when the city became a bishopric. The church of San Lorenzo was consecrated as the city’s first cathedral in 393 AD by Saint Ambrose, Archbishop of Milan.

Three centuries of silence followed, when the city, by then reduced to only 5.000 inhabitants, was conquered and governed in succession by the Goths, the Byzantines, the Lombards and the Franks. It was not to recover until the 9th century; Fiorenza (as it was called then) soon replaced Lucca as the center of the Margravate of Tuscany, and was granted the status of a Free Commune in 1075, creating the basis for the Florentine Republic.



Left: reconstruction of Roman Florentia, right: Saint Zenobius, first Bishop of Florence

The Florentine Republic:

A flourishing textile industry was soon established in the city, to which the Arno river provided access to the Mediterranean Sea for international trade, leading to the rise of an industrious merchant community whose banking skills became recognized all over Europe. Florence experienced various forms of government from that time onward, and members of the Guilds (the economic powers that controlled the arts and trade and made the city so rich and famous) were admitted to the Council in 1193. A fight for power exploded in 1215, during which the Florentine were divided between the Ghibelline party (composed of feudal nobility and powerful merchants) and the Guelph party (an emerging but cultured middle-class with commercial origins). Despite the formation of a government later in the century, the real power remained in the hands of the families of the aristocratic merchants and bankers. The Guelph faction split up in turn into two parties in 1300, the Blacks and the Whites, and a civil war ensued between the two. It was during this period that the famous poet Dante Alighieri was exiled, for supporting the Whites.



Left: Guelphs and Ghibellines, right: representation of Florence in the 14th century
 

·
Feel the pungency!
Joined
·
27,519 Posts
Discussion Starter #3
Rise of the Medici:

In the late 14th century, Florence's leading family was the House of Albizzi, with the Medici as their main rivals. Originally farmers who had moved into the city, the Medici became first merchants, then bankers, and the fact they were bankers to the pope largely contributed to their ascendancy. The real founder of the family’s wealth was Giovanni di Bicci, founder of the Medici Bank, Europe’s largest at that time; he became popular for his generosity, as he often aided the Republic and the population in difficult times by providing financial help from his own personal fortune. He was also the first patron of the arts in the family, helping the young artist Masaccio (the founder of Renaissance painting), and paying for the reconstruction by architect Filippo Brunelleschi of the Basilica of San Lorenzo, which stood in the area of the city where the Medici lived. His two sons Cosimo and Lorenzo are both referred to as il Vecchio ("the Elder"), and it was from them that the two branches of the Medici family originated. Giovanni managed several times to obtain positions of power or to be in control from behind the scenes through his allies, in spite of the city apparently keeping its Republican system.



Left: Giovanni di Bicci de’ Medici, right: representation of Florence in the 15th century

First period of Medici rule:

Giovanni’s son, Cosimo the Elder, was highly popular among the Florentines for bringing an era of stability and prosperity to the city. One of his most important accomplishments was negotiating the Peace of Lodi that ended decades of war with Milan and brought stability to much of Northern Italy. His most notable artistic associates were sculptor Donatello and painter Fra Angelico. Cosimo’s grandson Lorenzo was an enthusiastic patron of the arts, commissioning works by Michelangelo (whom he was particularly fond of), Leonardo da Vinci and Botticelli. He was also an accomplished poet and musician, bringing composers and singers to the city, and became known by contemporary Florentine (and since) as "Lorenzo the Magnificent". Under him, the Medici rule was formalized with the creation of a Council of Seventy, which he headed, putting the instruments of republican government under his firm control.



Left: Cosimo de’ Medici the Elder, right: the Birth of Venus by Sandro Botticelli

However, relations with the Papacy soured during Lorenzo’s lordship, and in 1478, Papal agents allied with the Pazzi family in an attempt to assassinate him. The plot narrowly failed, but Lorenzo's young brother, Giuliano, was killed instead, and the failed assassination led to a war with the Papacy and was used as justification to further centralize power in Lorenzo's hands. Following his death in 1492, he was succeeded by his son Piero the Unfortunate, who was expelled by the Florentines in 1494 after he surrendered to the invading army of French king Charles VIII. This event was partly the result of plotting by members of the cadet branch of the Medici family (descendants of Lorenzo de' Medici the Elder, Cosimo the Elder’s brother). The first period of Medici rule thus ended, and a republican government was restored.



Left: Lorenzo the Magnificent, right: commemorative medal depicting Lorenzo’s assassination attempt
 

·
Feel the pungency!
Joined
·
27,519 Posts
Discussion Starter #4
Return of the Medici:

During this Second Republic, the Dominican friar Girolamo Savonarola attempted to carry political reforms to give Florence a more popular (though theocratic) rule, lambasting the attachment to material riches, and blaming the downfall of the Medici on divine punishment for their decadence. He also had thousands of books and works of arts destroyed in a “Bonfire of the Vanities” on Piazza della Signoria in 1497. But Savonarola’s own downfall came when he publicly accused Pope Alexander VI of corruption; he was eventually arrested, falsely accused of heresy, and burned at the stake in the same location as his Bonfire in 1498. In 1512, the field was left free for the return of Giovanni de' Medici, son of Lorenzo the Magnificent, and his cousin Giulio (Giuliano de' Medici’s illegitimate son, who had been adopted by his uncle Lorenzo).



Left: portrait of Girolamo Savonarola, right: Savonarola’s execution on Piazza della Signoria

The Medici Popes:

Giovanni de' Medici was elected Pope in 1513 under the name of Leo X, and the government of Florence passed to Giulio, himself elected Pope in 1523 under the name of Clement VII. Both Medici Popes served as de facto rulers of Rome, Florence, and large swaths of Italy known as the Papal States. Both were also generous patrons of the arts who commissioned several masterpieces by Raphael and Michelangelo (in particular the painting of the altar wall of the Sistine Chapel), but their pontificates were a period of troubles for the Vatican that culminated in the 1527 Sack of Rome by the armies of Holy Roman Emperor Charles V. Clement VII had left Florence to be governed by his young nephew (reportedly his illegitimate son) Alessandro, whom the Florentines drove out during the Sack of Rome, and reinstated the Republic. However, Clement allied himself with Charles V in 1530, secured the engagement of Alessandro to the king’s daughter, Margaret of Austria, and convinced Charles to name Alessandro as Duke of Florence.



Left: Cardinal Giulio de' Medici, later Pope Celement VII (left) with his cousin Pope Leo X (center) and Cardinal Luigi de' Rossi (right), right: Duke Alessandro de’ Medici
 

·
Feel the pungency!
Joined
·
27,519 Posts
Discussion Starter #5
The Medici Dukes:

In 1534, Pope Clement VII died, and with him the stability of the Medici's senior branch (the one descended from Cosimo the Elder). Alessandro de' Medici was assassinated in 1537 by a resentful cousin from the Medici’s cadet branch (the one descended from Lorenzo the Elder), Lorenzino. Following his death, the magnates of Florence chose to place as new duke Cosimo I, another member of the Medici’s cadet branch who was almost unknown in the city, thinking they would be able to condition the 19-year old boy as they wished. But Cosimo proved to be strong-willed and ambitious, and soon managed to concentrate all the power in his own hands and defeat his opponents, who were led by the Strozzi family. He then re-established law and order within the State, and organized a Tuscan militia so as not to have to call in mercenary troops. As his more prominent ancestors had been, he was also an important patron of the arts, and notably associated with painter, architect and historian Giorgio Vasari. He is perhaps best known today for the creation of the Uffizi ("Offices"), which now house one of the world's most important collections of art.

Cosimo later managed to conquer Siena (in 1555), and was finally given the long desired title of Grand Duke of Tuscany in 1569 by Pope Pius V. The Medici consequently ruled as Grand Dukes of Tuscany until 1737, with only the Republic (later Duchy) of Lucca and the Principality of Piombino remaining independent from Florence. Their reign coincided with a large part of the Counter-Reformation, a period of Catholic resurgence initiated in response to the Protestant Reformation and which lasted from the mid 16th to the mid 17th century. The Counter-Reformation and the period directly preceding it witnessed the reformation or the creation of many religious orders linked to churches and monasteries in Florence, like the Benedictine, the Cisterians, the Theatines, the Capuchins and the Jesuits.



Left: Cosimo I around 1545, right: Cosimo I as Grand Duke of Tuscany

18th – 19th centuries:

The extinction of the Medici dynasty was followed by Tuscany's inclusion in the territories of the Austrian crown, then its annexation by France in the early 19th century. After the fall of Napoleon in 1814, the Habsburg-Lorraine dynasty was restored, but finally deposed in 1859, and Tuscany became a region of the Kingdom of Italy in 1861, with Florence replacing Turin as Italy's capital in 1865. Many medieval houses were torn down and replaced by a more formal street plan with newer houses and wider avenues in an effort to modernize the city, but the new development (called Risanamento) was not always popular, especially the controversial remodeling of the central square, today’s Piazza della Repubblica. Six years later, Florence was superseded by Rome as the capital city of Italy after the withdrawal of the French troops from the latter.



Left: view of Florence in 1865, right: Ponte alle Grazie around 1870

(All pictures in this section are courtesy of wikipedia)
 

·
Feel the pungency!
Joined
·
27,519 Posts
Discussion Starter #6
Being familiar with the city’s history, we can now start our exploration of it. My itinerary in the historic center is shown on the second, larger map (which corresponds to the area delimited in red on the first map), with numbers referencing all the spots where I took pictures:

Florence map by Wasso H., on Flickr

Florence itinerary by Wasso H., on Flickr
 

·
Feel the pungency!
Joined
·
27,519 Posts
Discussion Starter #7
Part 1: a city of palaces and churches

Map: 1

Exiting the station, I find myself on a large esplanade partly occupied by parking lots and surrounded by busy arteries. An imposing brick church stands on the other side, and I cross the esplanade to get to it, taking on the way a map of the city at the tourist office. It’s the Basilica of Santa Maria Novella, from which the railway station took its name, and is the city’s principal Dominican church. The name Novella comes from the fact that it was built on the site of a 9th century oratory called Santa Maria delle Vigne. When the site was assigned to the Dominican Friars in 1221, they decided to build a new church and adjoining cloister as their headquarters. The church was designed by two architect monks; construction began in 1246 and was finished in 1360 with the completion of the Romanesque-Gothic bell tower (though only the lower part of the Tuscan gothic façade was finished at that time), and the church was consecrated in 1420:

Basilica of Santa Maria Novella by Wasso H., on Flickr
 

·
Feel the pungency!
Joined
·
27,519 Posts
Discussion Starter #8
Map: 2

The impressive façade looks onto Santa Maria Novella square, one of the largest squares in the old city center, which was enlarged several times throughout history to be able to contain the crowds of people drawn there by the preaching of the Dominican monks. The façade is entirely made of white marble inlaid with green marble of Prato, also called "serpentino". The lower part (the only one completed when the church was consecrated) is spanned by blind arches separated by pilasters, and below them are Gothic pointed arches, striped in green and white, capping tombs of the nobility. This same design continues on the adjoining wall around the old churchyard:

Basilica of Santa Maria Novella by Wasso H., on Flickr
 

·
Feel the pungency!
Joined
·
27,519 Posts
Discussion Starter #9
Map: 3

A local writer and architect, Leon Battista Alberti (who was already famous for designing the unfinished Rimini Cathedral) designed the upper part of the façade in the same materials as the lower one between 1456 and 1470. Considered an important stepping stone in Renaissance architecture, his design attempted to bring the ideals of humanist architecture, proportion and classically inspired detailing, while also creating harmony with the already existing medieval part of the façade, to which he added four columns of green marble with Corinthian capitals. His main contribution consists of a broad frieze decorated with squares, on which stands the upper part with its four white-green striped pilasters and a round window, crowned by a pediment with the Dominican solar emblem, and flanked on both sides by enormous S-curved volutes (or scrolls). The pediment and the frieze are inspired by antiquity, but the S-curved scrolls are without precedent, and the scrolls (or variations of them) found in churches all over Italy all draw their origins from the design of this church. The frieze below the pediment carries the name in Latin of the patron who commissioned the addition, which is a typical feature of Renaissance art: IOHAN(N)ES ORICELLARIUS PAU(LI) F(ILIUS) AN(NO) SAL(UTIS) MCCCCLXX (Giovanni Rucellai son of Paolo in the Year of Salvation 1470). Another two references to the patron are to be found on the frieze separating the two parts of façade: the repeated symbol of a rounded ship sail with ropes, referencing Rucellai’s prosperous shipping business that helped finance the construction, and also his coat-of-arms at the corners of the frieze. When the church was remodeled in the 16th century, an armillary sphere and a gnomon were added to the end blind arches of the lower façade (on the left and the right respectively) by the astronomer of Cosimo I:

Basilica of Santa Maria Novella - Facade by Wasso H., on Flickr
 

·
Feel the pungency!
Joined
·
27,519 Posts
Discussion Starter #10
Map: 3

The frame of the main entrance is particularly impressive. Its external part is made up of two marble pilasters with Corinthian capitals, crowned by an intricately festooned marble arch, inside which is a lunette painted in 1616. The inner part is a bas-relief with plant-like patterns, on which appears a symbol of rings with feathers referencing the Medici family. The Medici rings with feathers are repeated as well in green and white inlay in the inner band of the archway:

Basilica of Santa Maria Novella - Main portal by Wasso H., on Flickr
 

·
Feel the pungency!
Joined
·
27,519 Posts
Discussion Starter #11
Map: 2

The interior of the Basilica contains multiple art treasures and funerary monuments, among which are famous frescoes by masters of Gothic and early Renaissance art. These were financed by the most important Florentine families, who ensured themselves funerary chapels on consecrated ground. I’m annoyed to find the church closed, and think maybe this is because the tourist season hasn’t started, although there are plenty of people on the square along with immigrants selling selfie sticks:

Basilica of Santa Maria Novella by Wasso H., on Flickr
 

·
Feel the pungency!
Joined
·
27,519 Posts
Discussion Starter #12
Map: 4

The arched gated right of the church is open however, so I decide to take a look thinking I might find a side entrance to the church. It leads to a sort of cloister housing the burial grounds of the complex. A small door below an arch opens in the wall on the other side, but it is closed too, so I go back to the square, and take a quick look at the surroundings before continuing to other parts of the historic center:

Basilica of Santa Maria Novella - Cloister with burial grounds by Wasso H., on Flickr
 

·
Feel the pungency!
Joined
·
27,519 Posts
Discussion Starter #13
Map: 5

I’m drawn to a building on the right with a peculiar architecture which I think might be typically Tuscan or Florentine as I hadn’t seen anything similar elsewhere. Called Casa Baccani, it used to be the property and residence of Gaetano Baccani, one of the most important Tuscan architects of the 19th century, who is commemorated by a plaque placed on the façade. The façade is organized on four narrow axes over four floors, with the windows of each additional floor smaller in height than those of the previous one. The upper floors are decorated with sgraffito in geometric and ornate patterns, including vines wrapped around columns on the top floor. At the center is a terracotta escutcheon carved with a lion leaning on a lance, perhaps a reference to the Rosselli del Lion Bianco family. The building was recently restored and remodeled and houses today the posh Hotel Rosso 23:

Casa Baccani by Wasso H., on Flickr
 

·
Feel the pungency!
Joined
·
27,519 Posts
Discussion Starter #14
Map: 6

I cross the Piazza dell’Unita Italiana going east, and soon arrive in front of an impossible to miss domed structure: the 17th century octagonal Cappella dei Principi (“Chapel of the Princes”). It is the largest one of the Medici Chapels (Cappelle medicee), two structures built as extensions to Filippo Brunelleschi's 15th-century San Lorenzo Basilica as the burial place of the Medici family, patrons of the church. The structure is built in yellow stone and white marble, and surmounted by a 59 high dome which forms the distinguishing feature of San Lorenzo Basilica when seen from a distance; it also lies on the same axis as the nave, to which it provides the equivalent of an apsidal chapel:

The Chapel of the Princes by Wasso H., on Flickr

The interior walls bear an astonishing revetment of white and colored marbles inlaid with semi-precious stones, mother-of-pearl and coral, and sixteen compartments of the dado (the lower part of the wall) bear coats-of-arms of Tuscan cities under Medici control. Six grand sarcophagi stand in the middle, but they are empty, and the Medici remains are instead interred in the crypt below. At its center was supposed to be the Holy Sepulcher itself, although attempts to buy and then steal it from Jerusalem failed. The Chapel was unexpectedly closing when I arrived there (again maybe because it was the low touristic season), so I ruled against paying the entrance fee just to get to visit it in a rush.
 

·
Feel the pungency!
Joined
·
27,519 Posts
Discussion Starter #15
Map: 8

Right behind the Cappella dei Principi and connected to it is the Basilica of San Lorenzo itself, one of the largest churches in the city and the parish church of the Medici family. It is one of several churches that claim to be the oldest in Florence; when it was consecrated in 393 AD it stood outside the then city walls. For 300 years it was the city's cathedral before the official seat of the bishop was transferred to Santa Reparata. In 1419, Giovanni di Bicci de' Medici offered to finance a new church to replace the 11th-century Romanesque building, and Filippo Brunelleschi, one of the founding fathers of Renaissance architecture of the first half of the 15th century, was commissioned to design and build it. However, the church was not completed until after his death, with many changes to the original design due to lack of funding and the commissioning of other architects (among which Michelozzo, another pioneer of Renaissance architecture) to continue the work after Brunelleschi’s death. The church was officially completed in 1459, in time for a visit to Florence by Pope Pius II, but some of the chapels inside were still being built in the 1490s.

The Medici Pope Leo X commissioned Michelangelo to design a façade in white Carrara marble in 1518, and the artist made a wooden model, in which he adjusted the proportions of the façade to the height of the nave after the ideal proportions of the human body, but his model remained unbuilt, and the façade is still in bare stone to this day. Despite this, the church is seen as a prime example of Renaissance architecture, with its structure entirely articulated in pietra serena (dark stone) and making use of proper proportions for various elements.

The domed structure on the right is the Sagrestia Nuova (“New Sacristy”), the first structure intended as a mortuary chapel for members of the Medici family (the Cappella dei Principi having been built later) by Pope Leo X and his cousin Cardinal Giulio de' Medici. It balances Brunelleschi's Sagrestia Vecchia, nestled in the church’s left transept, and shares its format of a cubical space surmounted by a dome. It was the first essay in architecture (1519–24) of Michelangelo, who also designed the monuments inside it. However, the temporary exile of the Medici in 1527, the death of Pope Clement VII, and the permanent departure of Michelangelo for Rome in 1534, meant that the artist never finished it. The work was instead finished in 1555 by Giorgio Vasari and Bartolomeo Ammannati, by order of Cosimo I. There were intended to be four Medici tombs inside it, but those of Lorenzo the Magnificent and his brother Giuliano were never begun. Finally, the campanile of the church (covered by scaffolding in the picture) dates from 1740:

Basilica of San Lorenzo by Wasso H., on Flickr
 

·
Feel the pungency!
Joined
·
27,519 Posts
Discussion Starter #16
Map: 8

The Basilica of San Lorenzo overlooks the homonymous square, on the southern side of which stands this elegant building housing the San Lorenzo Trattoria, a historic restaurant specializing in traditional Tuscan cuisine:

San Lorenzo Square by Wasso H., on Flickr
 

·
Feel the pungency!
Joined
·
27,519 Posts
Discussion Starter #17
Map: 7

From the square’s northwestern corner starts Via dell’Ariento, lined with market stalls and leading to the 19th century Central Market or Market of San Lorenzo. The street offers picturesque views on the Sagrestia Nuova of San Lorenzo church:

Market stalls on Via dell’Ariento by Wasso H., on Flickr
 

·
Feel the pungency!
Joined
·
27,519 Posts
Discussion Starter #18
Map: 8

On the same corner is a monument to military leader Giovanni dalle Bande Nere (1498-1526), commissioned in 1540 by his son Cosimo I. The son of Giovanni the Popolano (from the Medici’s cadet branch) and Caterina Riario Sforza (do you remember when I mentioned her on my Imola thread?), he was given his nickname (meaning “of the Black Stripes”) when he changed the stripes on his emblem from white to black as a sign of mourning for the death of the Medici pope Leo X. A mercenary who would only fight for whoever paid him the highest sum, he characteristically changed sides as many as four times in four years, from 1522 to 1526. He was killed while commanding the army of the League of Cognac (a French-Venetian-Papal alliance created by Medici Pope Clement VII against the Imperial armies), leaving the path open for the Sack of Rome in 1527.

Giovanni dalle Bande Nere is depicted in Roman armor, seated and holding the staff of the command. The monumental base, almost cubic in shape, is the largest part of the monument. At its corners are four Doric columns supporting a majestic frame of the same order, and a plinth decorated with beautiful festoons and bull heads on which the statue sits. The narrower sides of the base also bear the coat-of-arms of the Medici at the time of Cosimo I (six balls arranged in oval shape), with two lion heads and the Medici symbol of rings with feathers above it:

Monument to Giovanni dalle Bande Nere by Wasso H., on Flickr
 

·
Feel the pungency!
Joined
·
27,519 Posts
Discussion Starter #19
Map: 8

One of the wider sides bears a bas-relief in white Carrara marble depicting soldiers presenting the war booty to their captain:

Monument to Giovanni dalle Bande Nere - The main bas-relief by Wasso H., on Flickr

While on the other is a fountain built in 1812, with a lion head also in white Carrara marble from which the water springs, and an ellipsoidal marble basin:

Monument to Giovanni dalle Bande Nere - The fountain by Wasso H., on Flickr

The monument was originally designed to be placed inside the Basilica of San Lorenzo; however the statue was placed in a room of Palazzo Vecchio instead, while the monumental base remained for a long time inside the Basilica, before being moved to the current spot in 1620 by Cosimo II. It is known for this reason as the “Base of San Lorenzo”, as attested by a 19th century inscription above the fountain. Only in 1850 was the statue brought from Palazzo Vecchio, and the monument took its current form.
 

·
Feel the pungency!
Joined
·
27,519 Posts
Discussion Starter #20
Map: 9

From that spot starts Via de' Ginori, a narrow paved street lined with a series of Renaissance noble houses that seem to be typical of this part of the city. The more discernible ones are, from the front to the back: Palazzo Neroni or Donati (with the flag), Palazzo Gerini or Barbolani di Montauto, and Palazzo Ginori.

The first two were both erected by Neroni brothers (in 1469 and in 1447 respectively), who wanted to show their wealth achieved through international trade. The Neroni devised a failed plot of rebellion against the Medici, which eventually led to their downfall and the confiscation of their assets, and both buildings underwent numerous changes of ownership from that time on. Palazzo Neroni was purchased by the Ministry of Cultural Heritage and Activities in the late 1980s and extensively restored. Its ground floor is made of large blocks of rusticated stone, and its façade still bears the coat-of-arms of the Neroni family.

On the façade of Palazzo Gerini are remains of restored 15th century paintings, while the two kneeling windows of the ground floor were added around 1570-1580. In the early 20th century, it passed to the Barbolani di Montauto family through a fairytale-like story: a woman who had previously been their maid entered later the service of the Gerini (the palace’s owners at that time), and was eventually married by her master who fell in love with her. Having no heirs, she remembered before dying the family where she had served in her youth, the Barbolani, who were going through tough times, and bequeathed them the palace and all its belongings. Its façade consequently bears two escutcheons: the left one with the coat-of-arms of the Gerini, and the right one with the coat-of-arms of the Barbolani di Montauto.

Palazzo Ginori, on the other hand, was the main palace of the Ginori Counts, one of the most important Florentine families throughout the city’s long history, and whom the street is named after (as you’ll subsequently notice, many streets of the historic center are named after noble families who owned houses or palaces along them). It was built in the 16th century, and originally had a façade decorated with monochrome paintings (today totally lost) depicting the Story of Samson. This was one of the first examples of this type of decoration, which was popular in the 16th century then fell out of favor. It was to a house opposite the Ginori palace that Lorenzino de' Medici first brought his cousin Alessandro, Duke of Florence, to assassinate him. The first and second floor have plastered walls and bear arched windows framed by rusticated masonry, while at the center of the facade is the coat-of-arms of the Ginori. The top floor houses an open gallery, a typical late 16th century element.

Renaissance palaces on Via de' Ginori by Wasso H., on Flickr
 
1 - 20 of 216 Posts
Top