Palazzo Strozzi is definitely under the limelight as the new exhibition, The Cinquecento in Florence, has just started. But why Palazzo Strozzi still is a Florence must see even when no special exhibitions are on?
Palazzo Strozzi: from rivalry to… assimilation!
Yes, the Medicis in the Renaissance Florence were a bit as the Star Trek’s Borgs: at some stage they owned everything cool and important…
Palazzo Strozzi is no exception.
Adventures and misadventures of the Strozzi family
The Strozzis were exiled from Florence in 1434, the year of the triumphant return to Florence of Cosimo il Vecchio, the Medici’s forefather.
While in exile, Filippo Strozzi became an important – and hugely rich – banker in Naples.
Rich and huge enough to come back in Florence in 1466.
A man on a mission: to crush the Medicis and to demonstrate that the Strozzis had more wealth than the Medicis.
Filippo Strozzi started buying all the other buildings around the family mansion to demolish them, to have enough space for building the biggest building ever built in Florence.
In 1489 the works started.
Filippo never enjoyed his dream, as he died in 1491.
In 1497 Benedetto da Maiano, the Palazzo Strozzi architect, died; the works went on under Simone del Pollaiolo, in charge until 1504.
The ground floor of Palazzo Strozzi became inhabitable only in 1507.
Palazzo Strozzi was finished by Baccio d’Agnolo in 1538. Just in time for Filippo Strozzi il Giovane and Piero Strozzi to be exiled and to have Palazzo Strozzi confiscated by Cosimo I de’ Medici.
The palace will be returned to the Strozzi in 1568. Filippo il Giovane was dead in prison meanwhile.
In 1638 Gherardo Silvani added the first floor chapel (wealthy family used to have a chapel in their own palace, as the Medicis in Palazzo Medici Riccardi, for instance); in 1662 he enlarged the Via Tornabuoni staircase.
In 1864 a very peculiar feature of the Palazzo was built: the panca di via by Giuseppe Poggi, appointed by Ferdinando Strozzi: a stone bench along the wall, to reinforce it.
Palazzo Strozzi today
Nowadays the Palazzo Strozzi hosts the library of the Gabinetto Viesseux and of the Fondazione Spadolini; the Istituto Nazionale di Studi sul Rinascimento and the Istituto di Scienze Umane e Sociali, of the Scuola Normale Superiore academy.