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Palazzo Capponi

This large palace seems to have been built on top of old houses of the Capponi family. It owes its fame to the story of a romance between a young couple, Ludovico Capponi and Maddalena Vettori. She was an orphan and the owner of the palace. Initially there was great hostility towards the relationship, but both families finally gave way and the pair married in 1557. They came to live in this palace and as they were very rich they furnished it with beautiful and valuable objects which they brought back from their many travels. Ludovico had the new facade erected to symbolise his possession of the building and the opposition there had been to the marriage. Inside he had a marvellous hall built which was frescoed by Poccetti with various episodic scenes and with portraits of the Capponi family.

Other artists such as the painters Jacopo da Pontormo, Bronzino, and Frà Filippo Lippi were also engaged to embellish his palace. An initial enlargement of the palace was ordered by Ludovico's son, Bernardino, who married Elisabetta Salviati around 1600; the stem of the Salviati family can be seen united with that of the Capponi on the gables of some of the doors. Further work was carried out around about 1650 on the instructions of the Senator Vincenzo Capponi, who was famous for a splendid collection of antique codices, parchments, and printed books, which on his death was inherited by the Riccardi family.
This collection is now in the Firenze State Archives. In addition to this collection, the Riccardi family also inherited a number of other Capponi possessions, including the palace on the Lungarno which was sold in 1800 to someone called Forlin. After numerous other changes in ownership, the palace was bought in 1938 by the the Conti Bulgarini d'Elci of Siena who rented part of it, including the Salone del Poccetti, to the College of Engineers of the Province of Firenze, who still occupy the building today.

Picture by Sandro Santioli
Translated by Jeremy Carden

 
 
 
   
 
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