I go back south to Via del Corso, intending to get a glimpse at one last spot of the city I haven’t yet seen. My eye is caught on the right by the church of Santa Margherita in Santa Maria de’ Ricci, founded in 1508 under the patronage of the Ricci family and renovated in the 17th century. The façade dates from this last period, and is divided by a protruding cornice into two registers. The lower register presents a portico from 1610 that opens onto the street with three round arches supported by columns with carved capitals, and separated by medallions bearing bas-reliefs, probably of the church’s benefactors, while on the edges stand two escutcheons, with the one on the right bearing a colorful coat-of-arms (but strangely not that of the Ricci family). In the center of the upper register is a large arched door-window of stained glass, supported by Corinthian pilasters and crowned by a tympanum with a shell inside; in front of it is a stone balcony supported by stylized corbels. The gable is devoid of decoration and only bears a rectangular window.
The “Santa Margherita” in the name refers to a 16th-century tablet in the first chapel representing Santa Margherita di Antiochia, but the church is better known for the ancient icon of the Profaned Madonna, housed within a sumptuous carved Baroque frame on the high altar. It originally stood in a tabernacle on a nearby alleyway, until a man called Antonio Rinaldeschi, drunk and angry after having lost a large sum of money playing dice, threw horse dung at it one night of July 1501. He was subsequently imprisoned at the Bargello, tried for outrage to a divine figure, and condemned to death by hanging, and the church was built specifically to repair the offense suffered by the sacred icon:
A short distance to the west stands another relic of the Ricci family, Torre dei Ricci, actually born of the fusion of two separate towers belonging to the Ricci and the Donati. It is composed of large, exposed stone sketches with a regular shape, and is punctuated by stone shelves that indicate the presence of wooden balconies in the past. Many of the tower’s windows do not date back to the medieval period but were created later, as evidenced by their regular appearance and width. A number of single-lancet arched windows also open on the last floor:
Further west, the spot where Via del Corso meets Via de’ Calzaiuoli is occupied by the large and elegant Palazzo Bellieni, built in Viennese style towards the end of the 19th century, during the Risanamento of the center. In continuity with the 19th century tradition, its architecture gives an insistent attention to showy and plastic ashlar elements on the ground floor, the mezzanine and the corners, so much that its many modernist elements appear somewhat restricted and of secondary importance:
The palace develops on six axes on Via degli Speziali (the continuation to the west of Via del Corso) and six on Via de’ Calzaiuoli. On the main floor of each façade are two balconies with elegant railings, onto which open door-windows crowned by broken semi-circular pediments bearing carving in the shape of a human head, while the remaining windows are crowned by triangular pediments instead. Smaller protomes (heads) crown the windows of the second floor, while the ones of the last floor are guarded by railings. The oval element carved on the corner bears the date 1893:
A nice view can be had from that spot over the arch of Piazza della Repubblica, which seems to be even more crowded than on my earlier passage. The column seen in the middle of the square (in front of the carousel) is called Colonna dell'Abbondanza or Colonna della Dovizia. It was originally erected at the exact intersection of the Roman Cardo and Decumanus Maximus roads, and thus considered the navel of the city. Its current version dates back to 1431; it is made of grey granite, stands on a stepped base, and is surmounted by an allegorical stone statue of La Dovizia (or Abundance), a replacement of the original one by Donatello, which irreparably deteriorated in 1721. During the clearing of the Piazza between 1885 and 1895, the column was dismantled and its components were stored in various sites. It was reassembled only in 1956, and placed two meters from its original position:
Turning north and walking on Via de’ Calzaiuoli, I soon get to a large late 19th-century building, noticeable for its unusually wide terrace spreading along Via de’ Tosinghi, over a ground floor in fake ashlar with a succession of arched openings housing stores. The building stands on the spot previously occupied by the house of several noble families, particularly those of the Adimari, one of the oldest and most important in Florence. The large buildings visible to the left are Palazzo Ginnasi Rosatagno and Palazzo Ceci e Rossi, both of which I featured earlier:
On the corner of the palace stands the intriguing Torre degli Adimari, one of the few surviving of the many towers previously owned by the family on that stretch of Via de’ Calzaiuoli (called Corso degli Adimari). Many of the Adimari’s houses and towers were demolished when the road was enlarged between 1842 and 1844, but the tower in question, dating from the 13th century, was luckily spared as it was already in a backward position. Spreading over five floors, it overlooks Via de' Tosinghi with a compact façade without openings, while the façade on Via de’ Calzaiuoli has five aligned windows created during a 19th century reconfiguration. There is another similar tower at the northern corner of the building that also belonged to the Adimari, but is much less noticeable as it is fully integrated into the façade and crowned by eaves:
I arrive again in front of the Cathedral, and seize the opportunity to take a picture of the Campanile from the southwestern corner, although the light is now much fainter than it was on my first passage. The lozenges visible on the west side are particularly interesting as they depict representations of the Planets (Saturn, Jupiter, Mars, the Sun, Venus, Mercury, and the Moon) while the ones on the south side depict the Virtues. The four statues on the west side represent two Sibyls, David and Solomon, while the ones on the south side represent four Prophets, among which Moses:
I cross Piazza del Duomo to continue north onto Via de’ Martelli, where the lights of the elegant neo-Renaissance palaces are gradually turning on. I have done my best to see the most I could of Florence in this limited time, and now I can finally search for a place to sit, eat something and use the restroom! :banana:
However, I’m annoyed to see there are a lot of people sitting in every establishment I check, and can’t help but think whether I will have enough time until I’m served, as less than half an hour remains until the departure of my train back to Bologna (on which I had to book a seat in advance, as it is a high-speed Freccia train). I finally decide it would be too risky to sit at one of the area’s eateries, and resign myself instead to return to the train station right away and quickly grab something in a nearby shop. I buy an overpriced and insipid cheese and ham sandwich, which I pay 4.5 euros instead of the 3 euros marked below it just to get to sit in the shop, and finally relieve myself! Would these be the worst 4.5 euros I have ever paid, or rather the opposite? :lol:
As a slight consolation, arriving to Piazza della Stazione, I get to watch and photograph the unusual spectacle of a large flock of birds (probably starlings) as they execute impressive rhythmic figures over the square, before finally perching on the nearby trees to spend the night. I close my thread with photos of this unusual (for me at least) phenomenon, hoping to see you soon again to discover another city! :wave:
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