Where is it: between San Felice square and the bridge a Santa Trinita.
Via Maggio was the broadest street in the city (hence the name) and gained further importance when the Medici transferred their court in the near Pitti Palace (16th Century), becoming the main axis of the court life and the connection between the Medici and the centre of Florence.
History - In the spotlight
The area between Borgo di Piazza (today Via Guicciardini-Via Romana) and Via dei Serragli towards the Gate Romana remained empty until the second halfth of 14th Century, when the nobleman Bonaccorso Velluti built a new street across the landed property of his family in order to connect the church of San Felice in Piazza with the recently built Bridge a Santa Trinita. This new street was called «Maggiore» ("broader") and then «Maggio» because at that time it was by far the broadest street of Florence.
The first palace built in Via Maggio was the Velluti's own; very soon other noble families (among them Capponi, Corsini, Ridolfi) built their palaces on the new street. In 16th Century Via Maggio became new importance: it is very near to Pitti Palace, and all most important families wanted a palace here, so that the original buildings were soon replaced by magnificent palaces.
After it lost his rôle of "court street" Via Maggio never lost its elegance, thanks to the many antiquarians and to the frequent restoration of the palaces.
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In the spotlight
A comprehensive description of all notable buildings of Via Maggio would be too long. Among the most important palaces following can be named:
Palazzo Ridolfi Zanchini
(nr. 13) Thi palace was built at the end of 16th Century after a project by Santi di Tito for the noble Zanchini family and has a very simple façade with ashlar at the corners. In 1843 it was bought by marquis Cosimo Ridolfi, owner of the nearby palazzo Ridolfi (n. 15).
The courtyard of palazzo Ridolfi Zanchini is a typical example for the sober Florentine civil architecture of the time.
Palazzo of Bianca Cappello
(nr. 26) This palace was designed by Bernardo Buontalenti and is named after the Venetian noblewoman Bianca Cappello, lover and later wife of Francesco I de' Medici. The building was completed in 1566 and the recently restored façade is characterized by the grotesque sgraffito-decoration by Bernardino Poccetti; at the side of this Palazzo is the oldest building in the street (14th Century);
(nr. 30) This building retains at the ground floor the original ashlar (14th Century), but the rest of the façade is typical for the 16th Century; in front of it is located the House Velluti
, whose façade (16th Century) shows the coat of arms of the family who founded the street;
Palazzo Corsini Suarez
(nr. 42) Palazzo Corsini Suarez (also known as "Palazzo della Commenda"): it was built at the end of 14th Century from the Corsini on the place where some buildings had been destroyed during the Ciompi uprising in 1378. At the end of 16th Century the palace went to the portuguese nobleman Baldassare Suarez de la Concha, brother-in-law of Cosimo I de' Medici and chief of the Order of Santo Stefano. He commissioned Gherardo Silvani with the decoration and reconstruction of the palace. The façade has been fully restored in 1999.
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