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London: Henry S. King & Co., 1877; Transcribed and Photographed, Carolyn Carpenter. CD, Florence in Sepia, contains full-scale images, and several other Victorian e-books on Florence, and is available from Julia Bolton Holloway
 

WALKS IN FLORENCE: CHURCHES, STREETS AND PALACES

SUSAN AND JOANNA HORNER



 
 
 

Chapter XXXIV:  Via de' Bardi – Palazzo Torrigiani – Church of San Nicolo – Porta San Nicolo and Porta San Giorgio

Opposite the Templar's residence, at the corner of the Ponte Vecchio and the via de' Bardi, is the Palazzo Manelli, where Boccaccio spent many an hour with his friend Françesco di Amanetti, who made a copy of the Decameron from the original manuscript.

The street following the course up the river from the Palazzo Manelli to the Piazza de' Mozzi is known as the Via de' Bardi; but the line of picturesque houses, of which it once consisted, have been in great part destroyed to form the new quay.  Many a bloody battle took place in this long winding street, but the hardest fought was in the year 1343, when the nobles offered a stout resistance to the attack of the popular party, whom they had roused to anger by their insolent pretensions, even after they had lost all political power by the fall of the Duke of Athens, which they themselves had been the first to occasion.275

Among the buildings lately demolished was the little Church of Santa Maria sopr' Arno, once under the patronage of the Buondelmonti family, and connected with a romantic story, which is illustrative of old Florentine manners.  The Buondelmonti, who were Ghibellines, held in abhorrence all the Bardi who belonged to the Guelphic party.  It chanced, however, one day that Ippolito Buondelmonti, a handsome and accomplished youth, met in the Baptistery, or Church of San Giovanni, Dianora, the beautiful daughter of Amerigo de' Bardi, who inhabited a palace which, amidst late demolitions, is still left standing, and is better known as the Palazzo Tempi.  Ippolito inquired her name, and from that hour sought every opportunity to pay his court to the lady, although he dared not declare his attachment from the enmity which subsisted between their families.  This concealment preyed on his health, and his mother, with difficulty, extracted from him the cause of his malady.  In her anxiety for the life of her son, she sought counsel from a lady related to Dianora, named Contessa, who contrived a meeting for the lovers at her villa outside Florence.  A secret marriage followed, and Ippolito and Dianora were thus made happy.  But one evening when Ippolito was on his way to visit his wife, carrying a rope ladder in his hands, he was observed and seized by the Bargello and his officers, who were going the rounds of the city, and mistook him for a robber.  Rather than betray Dianora, Ippolito submitted to this accusation, and when his father Buondelmonti was summoned, his entreaties for the pardon of his son were all in vain.  The following day, the flag of justice, the sign of a condemnation to death, was hoisted over the gate of the Palazzo del Podestà.  Ippolito's one prayer was, however, granted – that, on his way to execution, he should be led past the house of Amerigo de' Bardi, in order, as he said, that he might seek a reconciliation with his enemies.  Dianora was at the window when the procession appeared below, and rushing down the stair case she acknowledged Ippolito as her husband.  The young couple and their parents were brought before the Podestà, who persuaded Amerigo de' Bardi to consent to the marriage, when peace was for awhile restored to the city.276  On the façade of the Church of Sta. Maria sopr' Arno was an inscription – "Fuccio mi feci, M.C.C.XXIV." – supposed to have been placed here by Ippolito Buondelmonti in commemoration of his exploit, and of his having feigned himself a robber, as Fuccio was the name of a noted brigand of those times, who has been celebrated by Dante: -

...son Vanni Fucci
Bestia, e Pistoia mi fu degna tana
.....
In gìu son messo tanto perch' è fui
Ladro alla sagrestia de' belli arredi.277
   Inferno, canto xxiv., v. 124-151
A sarcophagus was attached to the outer wall of Sta. Maria sopr' Arno, where a Certain Cavaliere de' Bardi was interred in the year 1342.  A priest contrived to climb into it that night with the intention of robbing the dead of the jewels and money placed there.  One of the bravos employed by the Duke of Athens happening to pass that way, the priest, raising himself from the tomb, gave a shout, which so terrified the assassin, who imagined he beheld the ghost of the dead man, that he fled to his house, and declared that he would never again consent to go on the Duke's missions.  This was reported to Walter de Brienne, who was so much enraged, that had not the man feigned sickness and declared he had seen a vision, he would not have escaped death.

The Palazzo Tempi, from the windows of which Dianora saw her husband led to execution, is most celebrated for a most beautiful Madonna by Raffaelle, possessed by the Tempi family, but now in the Gallery at Munich.

Behind the new Quay is all that remains of the Via de' Bardi.  In the earliest times this street, under the name of the Via Pidigliosa, was inhabited by the most wretched population of Florence, until the Bardi, partners of the Peruzzi in a bank which was the richest in Europe, took up their abode in this quarter, and built a street of palaces.  The family were originally from the country, and settled in Florence in the tenth century.  At the commencement of the quarrels between the nobles and popular party in the year 1215, the Bardi took the side of the Buondelmonti or Ghibelline faction, and it was not until much later that they became Guelphs.  In 1338 the Bardi and Peruzzi Bank failed for the sum of 900,000 florins, which they had lent to Edward III. of England for his invasions of France, and which he refused to repay; but the Bardi soon recovered from this blow, and even after other losses they became as powerful as ever.

When Walter de Brienne ventured to order the amputation of the hand of one of their followers, Ricci de' Bardi was so indignant at the infliction f a mode of punishment reserved for the common people, that he joined the conspiracy which caused the downfall of the tyrant:  in reward for this service the Bardi as well as the rest of the nobles were admitted to a third share in the government, until their attempts to usurp greater power occasioned the privilege to be withdrawn.  Bishop Acciajuoli of Florence was sent to announce to them the decree by which they were excluded from the government, but he was received with high words from Messer Ridolfi de' Bardi, who excited the populace against the democratic party in the state, whilst sending for arms and other assistance from Lombardy.  The nobles of the Oltr' Arno barricaded the bridges, streets, and houses; the Nerli undertook the defence of the Ponte all Carraia; the Frescobaldi and Manelli that of the SS. Trinità; the Rossi and Bardi defended the Ponte Vecchio and the Ponte Rubaconte.  The Government succeeded in suppressing the rebellion on the right bank of the Arno, and attempted to pass the Rubaconte, but were repulsed by the Bardi, who were at length taken in the rear and forced into flight; they were received by the Quaratesi, and other nobles, but their houses, as before related, were sacked, and many of them burnt to the ground.  With this destruction of the Bardi, the humiliation of the nobles was accomplished.

The wall which supports the gardens on the hill to the left, was built after the landslips had caused the fall of houses, and destruction of life and property; in the last, which occurred in 1547, Bernardo Buontalenti, then a child of five years old, was buried.  When dug out, his forlorn condition excited the compassion of the Grand-Ducal family, from whom he received the education which made him the first architect of his day.  Nearly opposite this wall is the Palazzo Capponi, formerly Uzzano, belonging to a younger branch of the Capponi family.  It was built by Nicolò da Uzzano, after a design by Lorenzo de' Bicci.  Nicolò was one of the most distinguished Florentines of the fourteenth century.  He was born in 1350, and filled the office of Gonfalonier three times.  Alike opposed to the ambition of the Albizzi and Medici, and foreseeing danger to the Republic from both these influential families, he prevented Giovanni de' medici being chosen Gonfalonier, and it was only after Uzzano's death, in 1433, that Cosimo attained to power.  Uzzano's only daughter, Ginevra, was married to a Capponi.

The bust of Nicolò d' Uzzano, in terra-cotta, by Donatello, is still preserved in the Palace which he built; it belongs to his descendant the Marchese Capponi; the head is full of life and truth, and is finished with marvellous care and attention to detail, even to every wrinkle in the face, the peculiar form of the ears, and a mole on the upper lip.  The drapery is simple, and arranged in large folds.  At the foot of the staircase of this Palace, in the entrance hall, are two ancient porphyry Lions, supposed to be Etruscan.
Next to the Palazzo Capponi is the Palazzo Canigiani, at one time the Hospital of Sta. Lucia, built in 1283.  In this Palace was born Eletta de' Canigiani, who became the mother of Petrarch, and died in Avignon, at the age of thirty-eight.

The adjoining church of Sta. Lucia degli Magnoli was founded by one Uguccione della Pressa, and finished by his son Magnolo, who gave his name of Magnoli to the church.  In 1244 the patronage was bestowed by the Bishop of Florence on the monks of San Miniato al Monte; but in 1425 the archbishop transferred this privilege to Nicolò da Uzzano, in recompense for having caused the principal chapel to be painted and decorated at his own expense.  The beautiful distemper picture of the Madonna and Saints, by Domenico Veneziano, in the Uffizi Gallery, was once in Sta. Lucia degli Magnoli; but there is no good picture now remaining there.  A graceful composition by Luca della Robbia is over the entrance door.
At the end of the Via de' Bardi is the Piazza de' Mozzi.  The Mozzi was an ancient Guelphic family, who, from the thirteenth century, were the Pope's bankers; and when Roman prelates or any other church dignitary arrived in Florence they were lodged in their palace.  Pope Gregory X. was entertained here, when he came to attempt the reconciliation of the Ghibelline and Guelphic parties in 1273; and when he laid the foundations of the Church of St. Gregory in this Piazza.  The motto of the Mozzi family, - "Pax" – dates from Pope Gregory's visit.  The fine gallery belonging to their palace was sold some years ago.

On one side of the Piazza de' Mozzi is the Palazzo Torrigiani, begun by Baccio d' Agnolo for the Neri, a distinguished family, who filled the highest offices of the State from 1382.  The Torrigiani belonged to the guild of Vinattieri – Vintners – in the fourteenth century.  One of the family, Benedetto di Ciardo, after having been twice Prior, was chosen Gonfalonier in 1380; but, wholly devoted to commerce, they only became distinguished in the seventeenth century, when a Torrigiani became Archbishop of Ravenna, and his brother was made a Senator:  in 1657 he purchased the Barony of Decimio, which, in 1719, his son exchanged for a Marquisate.  The Marchese Giovan Vincenzio had been brought up for the Church, and was made a Cardinal in 1753, and Secretary of State to Pope Clement XIII.  At his death, in 1777, his nephew, Pietro Guadagni, the son of his sister, Teresa Torrigiani, succeeded to the title and name.  A tablet has been lately placed over the door of that part of the palace which was inhabited by the late Marchese Carlo Torrigiani.278

The Palazzo Torrigiani contains one of the finest private collections of pictures in Florence.

No. 1.,279 in a small entrance room, is a fanciful production of Botticelli's – a nymph in a wood hunted by a man on horseback and his dogs; two men are looking on.  The subject is taken from one of Boccaccio's tales, so curiously illustrative of the manners of those days, and the light in which ladies were then regarded who refused to return the affection of their admirers, that we think it worth while to give a somewhat curtailed translation of the tale: - "In Ravenna, an ancient city of the Romagna, lived many noblemen and gentlemen, among whom was a youth called Nastagio degli Onesti, who, at the death of his father and uncle, inherited immense wealth.  Being without a wife, he, as is usual with youths, fell in love with a daughter of Messer Paolo Traversari, a young maiden of far nobler birth than his own, but whom he hoped to persuade to love him by his virtuous acts.  Yet, although his acts were most generous, lovely, and praiseworthy, they were not only fruitless, but rather seemed to injure him in her eyes, so cruel and savage was his mistress's behaviour towards him; which conduct was so hard for Nastagio to bear, that often, after having lamented in vain, he would fain have killed himself.  But as often he tried to take courage and abandon her, or if possible hate her, as she hated him; but it seemed the more his hopes failed him the greater grew his love.  As he persevered in lavishing vast sums on the lady, certain of his friends and relations began to fear that he would end by destroying himself and wasting his whole substance.  They therefore entreated him, and advised him, to leave Ravenna, and to go for a while to another place, that he might diminish his expenses and cure his passion.  Nastagio often ridiculed this advice, but at last consented, and ordered great preparations to be made as if he intended to visit France or Spain, or some other distant place.  Mounting his horse, and accompanied by his friends, he then left Ravenna; and when he reached a place called Classis, three miles beyond the town, he told them that he had determined to remain there, and that they might return whence they came.  Having pitched tents and erected pavilions, Nastagio began to lead the gayest and most splendid life, now inviting one friend, then another, to supper.  It happened that in the beginning of May the weather was unusually fine, which brought the recollection of his cruel mistress to his mind, and, desiring all his servants to leave him that he might indulge in thoughts of her, he dragged himself along, step by step, lost in contemplation, until he reached a pine wood.  Suddenly he heard a great weeping and loud lamentations as from a woman, which interrupted his pleasant thoughts; and, raising his head to see whence these arose, he beheld a most beautiful damsel approaching him, running through the briers and thorns towards the place where he stood, torn and scratched, and crying aloud for mercy:  and he also beheld a pair of large and fierce mastiffs in pursuit, which, whenever they reached her, tore her cruelly; and after them, a knight on a black horse, with a rapier in his hand, using terrible words and menacing her with death.  This sight struck terror into Nastagio, who, taking compassion on the unhappy lady, desired, if possible, to rescue her.  Being unprovided with weapons, he seized a branch of a tree, and thus approached the dogs and the knight.  But the knight called out from afar, 'Nastagio, do not interfere in this matter; leave the dogs and me to deal with this wicked woman as she deserves:' to which Nastagio replied, 'I do not know who thou art; but this much I tell thee, that it is the basest cowardice for an armed knight thus to seek the life of a helpless female, and to set thy dogs at her, as if she were a wild beast; and I shall certainly defend her to the best of my power.'  The knight then said, 'Nastagio, I am from the same land as thyself, and when thou wert yet a little child, I, who was called Guido degli Anastagi, was far more enamoured with this woman than thou art with her of the Traversari; by her pride and cruelty I was driven into such misery that, in my despair, I slew myself with this rapier which thou beholdest in my hand, and was condemned to eternal torments.  Nor was it long before she, who was enchanted to hear of my death, died also, and for the crime of her cruelty, and for her joy at my torments, of which she did not repent, as she did not believe to have sinned but to have done well, she likewise was condemned to the pains of hell; in which, as she descended, the punishment assigned to her and to me ws for her to fly before me – and for me, that had loved her so fondly, to pursue her as my mortal enemy, and not as my mistress, and when I reach her to kill her, as I killed myself with this rapier; to tear out her hard and cruel heart, in which neither love nor pity ever entered, and give it to my dogs to eat; and, in no long interval, she rises again, to recommence her flight, and I and my dogs follow; and every Friday at this hour I arrive at this place, and here I punish her, as you will see; and do not suppose that we repose the other days of the week, but we arrive somewhere else, where she cruelly thought and acted against me; and I, who from a lover have become an avenger, am forced in like manner to pursue her, for as many years and as many months as she ws cruel to me.  Allow me, then, to fulfil the mandate of Divine Justice, nor oppose what thou canst not prevent.'  Nastagio, hearing these words, was so terrified, that there was hardly a hair of his head which did not stand on end, as he gazed at the unhappy damsel, who timidly awaited her fate.  The knight, like a mad dog, sprang upon her, who was held down by his mastiffs, and, whilst she cried for mercy, plunged his rapier through her breast.  The damsel fell on her face to the ground, and he, seizing a knife, cut out her heart, and threw it to the mastiffs, who devoured it instantly.  But before long, the damsel rose suddenly again, as if nothing had happened, and began her flight in the direction of the sea, the dogs after her, and the knight, remounting his horse, renewed his pursuit; so that in less than half an hour, they disappeared, and Nastagio saw them no more.  He remained there long in fear and pity, when it occurred to him that as this scene was to be repeated every Friday, it might be of use to himself.  Marking the place, he returned to his servants, and sending for his friends, he addressed them thus:  'You have long urged me to cease from loving her who is my enemy, and I am ready to do it, if you will grant me one favour, which is this, that next Friday you persuade Messer Paolo Traversari, and his wife and daughter, and all the ladies of their family, and any others you please, to come here and dine with me.'  His request appeared a very trifling one to those present, and, returning to Ravenna, they invited all whom Nastagio wished to see; and, though it was difficult to persuade the lady beloved by him, she nevertheless went with the rest.  Nastagio ordered a magnificent repast to be prepared, and had the tables placed under the pines round that place, where he had beheld the punishment of the cruel maiden, and so arranged that his mistress should be seated exactly opposite where the deed would be done.  The last dish had just been brought, when all began to hear the cries of the hunted damsel, and, in wonder, asked what it meant.  Rising from their seats to see what it could be, they beheld the unhappy lady pursued by the knight and dogs.  The knight, addressing them, as he had Nastagio, filled them with terror and wonder; and when he repeated what he had done before, all the women present – and there were a great many who had been relations of the unhappy damsel, as well as of the knight, and remembered the story of his love and of his death – wept, as if they too suffered with her:  which scene being ended, and the damsel and the knight having disappeared, all the spectators fell into many and various discourses on what they had seen.  But among those most terrified was the cruel maiden beloved by Nastagio, who had distinctly seen and heard everything, and was conscious that the scene was more addressed to her than any one else, remembering the cruelty she had always shown her lover; so that she already seemed to fly before his wrath, and to have the mastiffs at her heels.  And such was her fear, that she herself told her father and mother she was ready to marry Nastagio, at which they were well pleased, and the following Sunday, Nastagio espoused her, and after the marriage they lived long and happily together.280

The next picture in the Torrigiani Gallery is a Magdalene, by Jacopo da Pontormo, extremely lovely, and the expression of sorrow and devotion very beautiful.  Nos. 5 and 7, the Triumph of David, from a cassone, or bridal chest, painted by Benozzo Gozzoli.  The figure of David, in No. 7, is very dignified, as he is borne along in a triumphal car after Saul.  In No. 5 the perspective and horses recall Paolo Uccello's picture in the corridor of the Uffizi Gallery.  Nos. 22 and 23, opposite – the Fable of Acca, - an Etruscan legend of the nurse of Romulus and Remus, - and the Expedition of the Argonauts, are by Paolo Uccello;  both likewise belonged to a cassone.  The subjects are treated with much animation, though the pictures have neither the elegance nor the beauty of the work of Benozzo Gozzoli.

Some of the finest pictures in the Gallery are in the second room – three noble portraits:  No. 9, by Leonardo da Vinci, formerly supposed to represent the Poet, and friend of Savonarola, Girolamo Benivieni, but now believed to be the portrait of Bernardo del Nero, an eminent Florentine citizen who was three times chosen Gonfalonier, 1474 – 1487 –1496 – but who, when he resigned his high office in 1497, was accused of having been engaged in a conspiracy to restore the Medici; he was therefore condemned by the ruling faction of the Piagnoni, led by Françesco Valori,281 and beheaded in the court of the Bargello, at the age of seventy-two.  The family of the Neri made their fortune as dealers in old household stuff, or brokers.  The Senator Agostino del Nero in the reign of the Grand-Duke Cosimo I. built this palace, since occupied by the Torrigiani.  This portrait is wonderfully expressive:  Bernardo has a noble countenance; he wears a black cap and dress.  The background is a very sweet landscape, treated sketchily, in a pale greenish-blue colour.  No. 7 is the portrait of Masaccio, by himself – a splendid drawing, careful, correct, and finished with surprising delicacy and truth.  No. 11, a portrait of Luca Signorelli, likewise by himself – grandly drawn, forcible, and carefully finished, though hard in outline.  No. 21, Pollajuolo – characteristic, though hard, angular, and somewhat stiff.  No. 3, a picture, by Garofalo, of Christ and the Woman of Samaria.  Over the door, No. 1, is the riddle of Æsop, by the Cavaliere d' Arpino, from a drawing by Michael Angelo.  A Madonna, by Ridolfo Ghirlandaio, is very sweet and soft, but rather feeble.

In the third room are two most beautiful paintings for a cassone by Filippino Lippi, representing the history of Esther.  In the first, No. 8, Ahasuerus is seated on his throne; Esther kneels before him to invite him to the banquet; the surprise of Haman, who holds his hand to his mouth, is well given.  The attendants of Esther, delicate and refined maidens, wait without; her own figure in white, walking away, is very lovely.  In the background is seen the banquet.  The sharp brilliancy of the lights in the open air, the distinct drawing of the small figures which yet preserve their distance and proper planes although the foreground figures and principal part of the story is kept in a comparatively subdued light, is very remarkable.  Nos. 21 and 22, small pictures by Filippino Lippi, represent Esther, and the triumph of Mordecai.  No. 7 is a very lovely Madonna and Child, generally attributed to Raffaelle, of his Florentine period; in composition it resembles the Bridgewater Madonna.282  The child lies across his mother's lap, and looks back with a most sweet expression, as he playfully holds her veil; the Virgin's head and hands are extremely beautiful and graceful.

No. 3 is a Deposition from the Cross, by Titian, painted in his old age – a noble production, wonderfully vigorous; the figure and head of Christ are especially beautiful.  No. 12, a fine portrait of one of the Alberti family, by Paolo Veronese.  No. 14, a very interesting portrait of the historian Françesco Guicciardini by an unknown artist.

In the furthest room is a fine Lucrezia by Guido Reni; a good portrait of Duke Alexander, the Moor; and a female portrait called Ginevra de' Benci, attributed to Leonardo da Vinci.

Returning through this apartment and crossing the first small entrance room, in a further suite, are several pictures of merit:  Christ in the Garden of Gethsemane, by Passignano; Muleteers, by Salvator Rosa; and a very fine Hobbema.

Beyond the Torrigiani Palace, on the former Renai, is a monument by Bartolini, to the memory of Prince Demidoff, who, in conjunction with the Marchese Carlo Torrigiani, liberally assisted the cause of education in Florence.  Behind the palace, where was once a picturesque line of houses, forming the back of the Via Bardi, are also now plats of flowers, and a broad paved road.

At the end of the Piazza dei Renai, facing the Torrigiani Palace, is the Palazzo dei Serristori, a family who were from an early period, adherents of the Medici.  Some, however, made an honourable exception; and Françesco Serristori, with his sons Guglielmo and Nicolò, attempted to liberate their country from the tyranny of the Grand-Duke Cosimo I.  They were declared rebels, and the youngest, Nicolò, when taken prisoner at the battle of Montemurlo, was confined for life in the horrible subterranean dungeons of the Tower of Volterra.  The Palazzo Serristori was occupied during the siege of 1528 by Malatesta Baglioni, of Perugia, to whom was confided the conduct of the defence, and who betrayed the city to the imperialists.  Malatesta consulted his astrologer on all occasions; and the room supposed to have been inhabited by this imposter, is all that remains of the palace, as it existed in the sixteenth century.  In another palace of the Renai, facing the river, are some good frescos by Overbeck; the subject is the tribute paid to genius in every country.

Near the Palazzo Serristori is the Church of San Nicolò sopr' Arno.  In the Piazza before this church the citizens met in 1529 and swore to defend their Republic to the last drop of their blood:  after Florence had been surrendered to the Imperialists, it was in the Belfry of San Nicolò that Michael Angelo concealed himself, until Pope Clement VII. Promised to pardon him for having constructed the fortifications above Florence.

San Nicolò was one of the first twelve churches of Florence erected about the tenth century.  Before 1184 it belonged to the monks of San Miniato al Monte, but in 1374 Gregory XI. placed it under the jurisdiction of the Bishop of Florence.  On the external walls of San Nicolò is a tablet recording the height reached by the Arno during a flood in 1557.  Over the high altar was once a picture by Gentile da Fabriano, painted for the Quaratesi family, much praised by Vasari, but of which nothing now remains except the side panels with saints which were on either side of the Madonna.  Cavalcaselle observes: - "The side panels of the votive piece are still at San Nicolò, filled with a pretty graceful Magdalene in profile; St. Nicolas, on whose cope scenes from the Passion are given with exquisite minuteness; a fine St. George and a Baptist were in the old Siennese antique style; the whole ornamented with profusion, flat and fused in tone, and with a rosy flesh tint shadowed in cool grey.  In the gables of these panels are figures of canonized friars between angels."283  In the sacristy is a much-injured fresco, attributed to Ridolfo Ghirlandaio, of the Virgin letting down her girdle to St. Thomas.  St. Thomas is a graceful figure, and expresses in his action the gratitude and humility with which he receives the gift.  A picture on panel, recently discovered in the church, but also now in the sacristy, is worthy of attention; it is thus spoken of by Cavalcaselle: - "The Eternal, surrounded by a glory of Cherubim of Umbrian type, sending down the dove of the Holy Ghost to the Virgin and Christ, both of whom kneel on a rainbow, spanning a golden heaven lighted by a sun in relief.  The resurrection of Lazarus, in the foreground of a landscape, and St. Louis of Toulouse, form the subjects of one side; whilst on the other are St. Cosimo, Damian, and a third saint together, and St. Benedict with a chained devil.  It is more hasty than the Virgin of the Quaratesi, and strongly impressed with the defects of the Umbrian and Gubbian schools."

The Porta San Nicolò is the only gate remaining in its original height and form.

The Porta San Miniato, between the Porta San Nicolò and the city wall which skirts the gardens of the Boboli, leads to the churches of San Francesco and San Miniato, beyond Florence, and is now connected with the Porta Romana by the beautiful road of the Colli.  In the Fondaccio di San Nicolò was the house of Doni, the patron of Raffaelle d' Urbino.

Returning from San Nicolò to the Via Bardi, on the top of the Costa, is a large building, now the villa Schwartzenburg, formerly a monastery of barefooted Augustinians.  It was founded by the Grand-Duchess Christina of Lorraine in the sixteenth century, upon the demolished houses of the Sermanni family.  A narrow passage leads to the Via della Costa, or Hill of San Giorgio; the ascent to the top is terminated by the Porta San Giorgio and the Fortress of the Belvedere.  Halfway up this street, on the right, is a house once inhabited by Galileo Galilei; the sun-dial in the garden behind is supposed to have been constructed by the philosopher.

The Fortress of San Giorgio or Santa Maria in Belvedere was built by the Grand-Duke Ferdinand I., who employed Buontalenti for this purpose.  The first stone was laid in 1590.  Beneath it is a subterranean chamber, in which the medici kept their treasures, and for which Buontalenti invented a lock which none could open without being made acquainted with the secret of its construction.

The Porta di San Giorgio was built in 1324, and was so called from a little Church of St. George which once existed in that neighbourhood.  On the side towards the country is a square marble tablet, on which is sculptured in high relief St. George and the Dragon.  Within the arch is a fresco, better preserved than any other on the gates of Florence.  The Virgin and Child are seated on a magnificent throne.  On the right is St. George in armour leaning on a shield, on which is painted the arms of Florence, the Red Cross on a white field; and on the left is a saint with a pen and book, who either represents St. Sigismund or St. Maximilian.  This fresco is attributed by Vasari to Bernardo Daddi, a scholar of Spinello Aretino.


Descending the hill, and passing the Augustinian Convent, the street divides into two marrow ways – that to the right leading again to the Via Bardi, near the Palazzo Tempi; and that to the left, a steep descent to the Piazza della Sta. Felicità.  A small church at the entrance of this street, near the Costa, is called San Girolamo, and at one time possessed a painting by Ridolfo Ghirlandaio, but is now Government property.

_______________

Chronology
 

Benivieni, Girolamo 1452 – 1542
Boccaccio 1313 – 1375
Botticelli, Sandro 1447 – 1510
Brienne, Walter de, Duke of Athens, died 1356
Buontalenti, Bernardo, buried under a landslip 1547
Donatello 1386 – 1466
Gregory X., Pope, in Florence 1273
Guicciardini, Françesco 1482 – 1540
Guido Reni 1575 – 1642
Lippi, Filippino 1457 – 1504
Lucia, Sta., de' Magnoli, under the monks of San Miniato al Monte 1244
Lucia, Sta., de' Magnoli, the patronage bestowed on Uzzano 1425
Nicolò, San, Sopr' Arno, built before 1184
Nicolò, San, meeting of citizens in Piazza 1529
Petrarch 1304 – 1374
Polaiolo, Antonio 1429 – 1498
Salvator Rosa 1615 – 1673
Signorelli, Luca 1441 – 1523
Spinello Aretino 1410
Uzzano, Nicolò 1350 – 1433
Vinci, Leonardo da 1542 - 1539
 
 

Notes
 

275 See Fantozzi, "Pianta Geometrica di Firenze," p. 233.
276 This tale is preserved in a MS. In the Peruzzi family, who were partners with the Bardi in the bank of Bardi and Peruzzo.
277

..."I am Vanni Fucci
Beast, and Pistoia was my worthy den,
So low am I put down, because I robbed
The sacristy of the fair ornaments."
  Longfellow's Translation.
278 The Marchese Carlo Torrigiani, already mentioned for his philanthropy, was grandson to the Marchese Pietro Guadagni.
279 Ellen Orton noted:  "Two of this series much repainted were exhibited at the Old Masters, Burlington House."
280 See "Decameron" of Boccaccio, vol. iii. p. 387.  Also Poetical Works of John Dryden, Esq., "Theodore and Honoria."
281 See Badia, pp. 313-314.
282 A copy, supposed to have been made by Michele Ghirlandaio from the Raffaelle in the Bridgewater Collection.  See "Cavalcaselle," vol. iii. p. 532.
283 See "Crowe and Cavalcaselle," vol. iii. p. 102.  A faithful engraving from this picture may be seen in Rosini's "Storia Tavola," xxxviii.
 

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Chapter XXXV:  Sta. Felicità to the Piazza Soderini
 

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