Town Center East, Florence
The area southwest of the Florentine Cathedral, the so-called Centro (center) was modernized at the end of the 19th century.
The Palazzo Gondi, one of the finest examples of 15th century Florentine palaces, was built between 1490 and 1501 by Giuliano da Sangallo but not completed until 1874 by Poggi. The main feature of its façade is the way the stone has been meticulously worked on the individual storeys, becoming flatter towards the top.The courtyard, one of the most charming of the Renaissance, is especially worth seeing. Here again one is struck by the careful use of the material and the artistic craftsmanship (on the capitals, the staircase and the fountain).
Palazzo dei Pazzi
The palace was built for Jacopo de'Pazzi (executed in 1478 after the conspiracy against Lorenzo and Giuliano de'Medici). The work was originally under the direction of Brunelleschi (1430) but was later taken over by Giuliano da Maiano (1462-1472) whose contribution is marked by its meticulous finish and love for architectural detail.The Pazzi family, who moved to Florence from Fiesole in the Middle Ages, personified commercial acumen and hunger for power. Once Lorenzo de'Medici had survived their murder bid their attempt to break the power of the Medicis was doomed to failure. The family was banned and their palace came into the possession of the Cibo family and then later the Strozzis and Quarantesis.
Piazza di Santa Croce
In front of the church of Santa Croce is a square which would have been unusually large for the Middle Ages, and was clearly intended for festivals and popular assembly or as a site for the Franciscan monks to preach their sermons. Focal points are the 17th century fountain on the west side of the square, the large monument to Dante and two palazzi.A type of football was played here as early as the 16th century; a commemorative plaque on the facade of the Palazzo dell'Antella marks the boundary line. The tradition has been carried on till the present day, and every June the piazza is the setting for the "Calcio Storico Fiorentino", a game of football in 16th century costume.
Opposite the Dante House, in a little square, is the unassuming church of San Martino where Dante was to marry Gemma Donati. Founded in 986 it passed to the Compagnia dei Buonomini, a charitable brotherhood which cared for the "shameful poor", once wealthy burghers who had lost everything they possessed. The present church is from the second half of the 15th century.The church is worth a visit for its frescoes which depict the good deeds of the brotherhood - visiting the sick, sheltering pilgrims, etc., and thus provide a vivid picture of everyday life in Florence in the late 15th century.
The Palazzo Altoviti in the Borgo degli Albizi, a street with many fine town houses, first belonged to the Albizi family and then to the Valori and Guicciardini families. In the 16th century Baccio Valori decorated it with busts of famous Florentines (Ficino, Vespucci, Alberti, Guicciardini, Dante, Petrarch, Boccaccio et al) which is why the locals nicknamed it the "Rogues' Gallery".
Restoration work after the 1966 floods revealed the extent of the treasures that the little church of San Simone had to offer. Founded in the 12th century and completely remodeled in the 17th century by Silvani it has extremely elegant architecture, frescoes and paintings that had almost been forgotten, including a "St Peter in Majesty" ascribed to the "Maestro della S. Cecilia", the master of St Cecilia.
Santa Margherita de'Ricci
In the center of Florence stands the church of Santa Margherita in Santa Maria de'Ricci or della Madonna de'Ricci which owes its name and its existence (1508) to the miraculous picture of the "Madonna de'Ricci" (ca. 1300) on the high altar.Santa Margherita was the parish church of some well-known Florentine families.
Town Center East Pictures
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