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Palazzo Capponi delle Rovinate

The descendants of the noble family of Count Capponi can pride themselves on living in the oldest palace of the family. The building is known by the name “delle Rovinate” in that the hill rising above it, Poggio dei Magnoli, was affected on a number of occasions by landslides and the houses on it destroyed or “ruined”, until Cosimo I finally put a stop to any rebuilding work after yet another landslide in 1547. The main section of the palace was built at the beginning of the 15th century by Niccolò da Uzzano; the presence of his portrait on a fresco in the entrance hall together with the Da Uzzano family crest on the facade are a clear indication of his prominence in the Republic.

The architect of the building is unknown, though Vasari claimed it was Lorenzo di Bicci. Given its date of origin, this imposing palace is very important in the history of private buildings in Firenze, because a number of its characteristic features, for instance the ashlar facade, reappeared in other palaces built in a later period. The distinctive internal quadrangular courtyard surrounded by porticoes was also a forerunner of similar palace courtyards build in the Renaissance. On the first floor it is still possible to admire the linear elegance of the original style, while the other floors have been heavily modified over the centuries.

The palace was adapted in the 17th century and a small chapel was constructed and decorated with fine works of art. During the second half of the 19th century, the construction of the new Lungarno Torrigiani induced Count Capponi to modify the back section of the palace facing the Arno. The commission to redo the facade was awarded to the architect Poggi, who carried out the work and added two open side terraces at the first-floor level. The majority of the floor housing the quarters of the noble family was then transformed and furnished according to the taste of the period.

Picture by Sandro Santioli
Translated by Jeremy Carden

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